Astragal Press books on antique tools and more






Tales from the Blue Ox

Dan Brett

Tales From the Blue Ox is a collection of the best tools, techniques, recipes and general common sense gleaned from the history of Victorian-era ingenuity. Interspersed with these gems of nearly forgotten wisdom is the story of one of Northern California's least-known treasures, the Blue Ox Millworks Historic Park.


The Blue Ox is a combination living-history museum, sawmill, and custom woodworking shop, specializing in the distinctive gingerbread decoration of Victorian-era homes. It is also a workplace for area artisans and craftspeople whose work ranges from blacksmithing and metal casting to boat building, pottery and vintage printing.

This book marks the first attempt to tell the story of the Blue Ox in its entirety, while sharing the skills that have been kept alive there. Starting with a tale of the Victorian craftsmanship that inspired it all, subsequent chapters elaborate on specific crafts ands skills practiced at the Blue Ox.

Also included are dozens of formulas for homemade paints, varnishes, glues, and other concoctions useful to artisans and craftsmen alike. Lavishly illustrated with nearly 300 pen-and-ink drawings by the author, Tales From the Blue Ox is a source of both information and inspiration for anyone interested in the traditional arts and/or the golden age of craftsmanship: the Victorian Era.

232 pages, Paperback, B&W, 8.5" x 11", © 2004
Order Number: AP162..............$29.95

"…that rare combination: a "history of" and "how to" book that manages to be both informative and entertaining. A wonderful teaching tool for those who want to learn, and preserve, the traditional techniques of doing custom woodwork (without contemporary tools or machines), using the same simple tools and materials that artisans have used for centuries." — Beti Trauth, Humboldt Beacon

"The story of a working historic park engaged in preserving, practicing and teaching a variety of trades from the Victorian era, all of which are beautifully illustrated with drawings by the author." The Gristmill

"A source of information and inspiration for a reader interested in the traditional arts or the craftsmanship of the Victorian era. The section on boat building provides the basis of understanding boat design and construction as well as sail configurations, hull types, planking and caulking, the tools of the trade and the creation of the steam box." — Paul Ridgway, Editor, The World Ship Review
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