In the Interim, 2014
April 20, 2014
It is now official. TSC has shifted to a downloadable
format. No waiting, no postage, no handling, no unforeseen tariffs,
no hassle. You can now buy any issue of TSC for $6.00 (less than the
original cover price for the later issues of the original journal),
download it to your computer, notebook, or i-pad, and be at your workbench
or favorite easy chair in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee
(keeping in mind that we are still using an ancient Mr. Coffee that
takes a donkey's age to brew). Just go to dpllconline.com,
register, and off you go. If you are uncertain which issue to start
with, there are copies of the TSC Index and the Table of Contents for
all 20 years available as downloads. (mhd)
January 4, 2014
By the end of this month, Dorsett Publications and The
Scale Cabinetmaker will take another technological step forward.
Over the past eight years, we transferred TSC from a print format
to cd-roms, retrieving twenty-years of material from mothballs. Now
we are taking what we think is the next logical step, and making the
individual issues available for immediate download. The price per issue
remains the same ($6.00), but it will give folks a chance to buy the
specific issues they want rather than the four issues included on each
cd. No shipping, no waiting, and an enormous change from where we started.
We expect the project to take three months to complete, but we will
be adding new issues as we work through them.
"Technology" and "The Scale Cabinetmaker"
have rarely been used in the same sentence. For the first few years
of TSC's existence, the copy was typed on an ancient Selectra
typewriter and then delivered to a firm in a neighboring town, who retyped
the text onto long narrow strips of paper, which we picked up and took
back to the production office (an office that had previously functioned
as Jim and Helen's living room). The drawings were drawn by hand, using
the same drafting tools that had been used to create the first Cabinetmaker's
Guide the decade before (although we had upgraded to rapidigraphs from
Helen's old lining pen. When the "typeset" articles arrived
back, we pulling out the rubber cement, a wooden T-square that wasn't
entirely square, some plastic triangles, the x-acto knives off the workbenches
(housed in the spare bedroom), we stood at the drafting tables and laid
out the latest issue.
While Jim hired a "graphics" firm after the
first issue to handle the final layout for the printer and used outside
firms for almost half of TSC's twenty-year life, the quarterly routine
changed very little. The Selectra remained on Jim's desk until the journal
moved to Christainsburg and Dorsett Publications finally purchased a
AM Varityper to improve the typesetting. The Varityper was a wonder.
It produce high quality type on photographic paper and allowed Jim to
write his final articles directly into the machine. The drafts of the
articles were stored on 8" floppy disks. Although we did upgrade
the T-square and the triangles and French curves, and we switched from
a drafting paper to mylar, very little in the overall routine changed.
Subscriptions and rock stacking were handled by hand for
the first few years until Jim broke down and bought a Trash80 (model
II), which was later replaced by a MacPlus with an add on disk. Beyond
basic rock staking (and the original Lode Runner game), the computers
sat on a desk in the mailroom.
The shift to computer layout in 1992 occurred because
the typesetter died in the middle of an issue. Jim hated computers.
A very large computer at the University of Missouri had consumed about
half of his dissertation data nearly 20 years before, so he was reluctant
to trust a computer to handle the requirements of TSC. The shift to
the computer had a fairly dramatic impact on the print and layout quality
of TSC. Computer type was still pretty ragged compared to the photo-crispness
of the Varityper; however the print out didn't yellow or turn brown
when left near a window and with age; correcting errors didn't require
printing and processing photo paper, and the smell of photo chemicals
disappeared from the company's offices.
The shift also allows us to broaden what we publish (and
what we carry) and to bring out new books more quickly and without the
constraints imposed by traditional approaches to document production.
One final note however, while we are learning how to handle the new
technology, the drawings are still created using the drafting equipment
we purchased in 1976. There is, at least to a degree, some comfort in
knowing that some things remain the same.
In the Interim, 2013
November 24, 2013
As of this weekend, we have now "officially"
entered the 21st Century, although if you looked at our workshop, you
might disagree. The Scale Cabinetmaker now has its own blog
and Facebook page.
We have been debating the "blog" idea for a
couple of years, but it was always shifted to the back burner in favor
of other projects (not the least of which was converting everything
to cd-rom). In some ways, Jim's quarterly "In the Interim"
column, often the last thing he wrote before an issue went to the printer,
was the precursor to blogging--an artform no doubt he would have enjoyed.
November 21, 2013
On principle, we do not put up Christmas decorations at
the Cambria Depot (the home of Dorsett Publications) until the day after
Thanksgiving. While we recognize that the business variation of Christmas
starts the day after Labor Day and that "Jingle Bells" now
defines the shopping experience well in advance of Columbus Day, there
is something not quite right about erasing the fall holidays in favor
of a few extra "ho, ho, hos."
This year marked a couple of notable red letter days.
On October 15, 1963, Helen published the first of the Cabinetmaker's
Guides. It was the first of its kind--a book geared towards the miniature
scale modeler. Sure, there were plenty of books on model railroading
and model shipbuilding, but nothing on miniatures. Miniatures had always
been far more of a collector's hobby than a modeler's hobby, so the
publication of The Cabinetmaker's Guide to Dollhouse Furniture: Country
Furniture was a marked departure.
The first volume (and the subsequent series and, for that
fact, The Scale Cabinetmaker) would not have existed if not for
two entwined events. In 1962, at her mother's prodding, Helen took on
a commission from Emma Poe, a doll collector in Peabody Kansas, to build
a dollhouse for her doll collection. In the spring of 1963, with Emma's
dollhosue near completion, Jim decided it was time to return to school
for a PhD in Sociology. In order to qualify for a house loan (they had
been living in Presbyterian manses for more than a decade), they created
Dorsett Miniatures and spent most of the spring and summer putting together
the first Cabinetmaker's Guide, which included plans and patterns from
the Poe dollhouse.
The first Guide was published by Calico Press, a printshop
in Wichita, Kansas best known for printing wallpaper for miniature rooms.
The original books were 11" x 17," spiral bound, and slightly
unwieldy. They didn't change the format of the Cabinetmaker's Guides
until the mid-1970s when they started publishing The Scale Cabinetmaker.
Neither Jim nor Helen expected the Cabinetmaker's Guide to do all that
well, and in terms of the publishing industry, it was never much of
a best seller, but it kept plodding along.
Over the past 50 years, Dorsett Publications published
9 more Cabinetmaker's Guides, all of which are still in print.
Nearly eight years in the making...
When we agreed to try to get all 20 years of The Scale
Cabinetmaker back in print (a promise made to my father,
Jim Dorsett), we had no idea 1) what we were doing; 2) exactly how long
it was going to take to make one of his final wishes a reality; and
3) the range of skill sets we were going to have to either relearn or
learn from scratch. Neither Carol or I had tackled such a venture before,
but after eight years of work, a steep learning curve, andmore than
a few failed attempts, we can now somewhat gleefully announce that for
the first time ever, all 20 years of TSC (some 80 issues and
nearly 800+ articles) are now in print.
One large project marked off the list. The next projects
are also TSC -based. Jim had a list of nearly 40 "Best of
TSC" books he wanted to release, including a Beginners' Workbench
series geared specifically for the new modeler. We are hoping to have
the first in the Beginner's Workbench series completed in time for Christmas.
Watch for an announcement by the middle of December, along with two
other titles: Mid-20th Century Furniture (Haywood Wakefield, Cushman,
Sears, Wards, and others), and a book on lathes and lathework (turnings).
Back to the drawing board.
Meghan H. Dorsett