The Works of Moxon in Modern Day

If you have spent any time in or around traditional woodworking circles you have undoubtedly heard the name Moxon, even if only in reference to a style of Wood Vise commonly, and mistakenly, named after him. Joseph Moxon (1627-1691) is credited with the very earliest of known publications on English Trades and is particularly revered for his documentation of Joinery in Mechanick Exercises, published in 1678. Along with the enlightenments of English technique Moxon also provides us with excellent illustrations of the tools used at that time including the Double Screw Vise.

Unfortunately for the modern student of tradition, Moxon’s manuscripts are written in Early Modern English. While much of the vocabulary has remained unchanged it can be difficult to grasp and digest the information the first time through. For that reason I have provided Moxon’s original text below along with my transcription into Modern English. At each original page break you will see a thumbnail, clicking the thumbnail will bring up a scan of the original text. I’ve also included supplemental pictures where I felt it was most efficacious for illustrating the material.

Pt 1 - The Art of Joinery

Pt 2 - Manner of Plaining and Trying

Download The complete PDF of Joseph Moxon's Mechanick Exercises to your device by clicking here.

More to come soon!...

-Jean Becnel  

*Moxon Manuscript courtesy of the Univeristy Of Michigan
*Images of Old Coins courtesy Colchester Treasure Hunters

© Jean Becnel, 2012. 
The material found herein is the sole intellectual property of it's author(s). 
Reproduction of this information is strictly forbidden without the written permission of it's author(s)


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your translation and for adding your wisdom to Moxon's work. It is greatly appreciated!

    I'm looking forward to further installments, but until then, I think I'll download my own copy of Moxon for some leisure reading (or maybe to just look at some cool illustrations ;).


  2. Anything I can do to raise interest and awareness of what we have going at LSU!

    Tim, if you have trouble finding a copy of that I can get it to you... along with Diderot and Roubo if you care to brush up on your French!

    Thanks for reading,


  3. Thanks for the offer Jean, but I was able to download a copy of Moxon just a couple of days ago.

    I'd love to have a copy of Diderot and Roubo, but my French is non existent so it would be kind of pointless. I'll just have to wait for your translation :)

  4. You can nonethe less look at the pictures, haha

    My French is pretty rough these days too. I spent a goodly amount of time in Southern France and studied it in college but that has been many years ago. I can happily say though that I'm back in school again extending my reach with undergraduate work in History. I'm looking at taking Early French as well to help with those older texts. Just like Moxon's work in Early Middle English, french of the same era is quite a bit more difficult to peruse.

    You can expect to only see selected excerpts translated. I'll leave it to Schwarz's associates to translate it as a whole... They aren't as busy building furniture ;)