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Problems of the Finishing Room, by Walter K. Schmidt
A Red Rose Press CD Re-Publication of the original book. Published 1916.
(This is an 'e-book' which will be delivered to you on a CD, in .pdf format, from which you may use your computer to read, or you can print a copy on your computer printer. Paper copies of this book are not available. The following is from the introduction to the book by Tim B. Inman)
If you're interested in turn-of-the-nineteenth century furniture finishing methods used in the Grand Rapids area, you will be thrilled with this book. Whether you are interested in restoration work or new work, the methods, materials and formulae found in this volume are priceless.
This volume was originally published in 1916, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our research reveals that the author, Walter K. Schmidt, was not an employee or owner of a furniture factory, nor was he a professional finisher by trade. Instead, we find that Mr. Schmidt was in fact a registered pharmacist in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition to his drug store he also owned and operated The Camera Shop, which he formed in 1908 and operated until 1936. He was a graduate of the University of Michigan.
So how did Schmidt come to write such a definitive book on factory finishing procedures used in the early 20* century? We have no answer. It is purely speculation to go further, however we can make a guess. In all likelihood, he was the son of a man, or at least a relative of one, who did in fact find his life-long work in the finishing rooms of the Grand Rapids furniture industry.
It is entirely within the realm of possibilities that he worked in the furniture factories while a young man and maybe even before completing his course of study for his pharmacy degree. This is our speculation - our opinion - not supported by fact nor proven.
We came into possession of our copy - the only one we have ever seen - as a result of the kindness and sharing of a very good friend and true finishing professional, Jerry T. TerHark.
Jerry was at the time the lead instructor in the Wood Finishing program at the famous Dakota Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, near Minneapolis. This program is the only one of
its type in the United States. It is a fully accredited technical college curriculum for those interested in the study of fine wood finishing. Since the early 1980s, I have served on the advisory board for this course. When Jerry showed me his copy, I was immediately enthused by theidea of republishing it. As a collector of old books myself, and one who has a personal library of furniture and furniture related books numbering over 3000 volumes, I knew this was a rare find.
I had never seen nor heard of this book previously. As I read through its pages, it was obvious that this was the Mother Lode of information relative to the furniture produced and finished in Grand Rapids in the early 20th century. Remember that todays safety practices may not allow the use of some of the materials or techniques recommended in this volume. Use the text with this in mind; if you feel unsafe or unsure about trying any of the things in this book, do not do it.
At the time we originally discovered this book, republication on paper was the only option available. Although I did own a printing press and used it for specialty technical publications such as our newsletter, WoodFinishing and Furniture Restorers Guide (which is now out of print but also available as an electronically republished CD) re-printing a volume with over 400 pages was just not a realistic option. The demand for this book, even though it is important and interesting, is very limited among the general population. As so often happens, budget - or the lack of budget - put the project on the shelf for nearly 15 years.
But as time passed technology improved. The concept of republishing on electronic format came to me when I purchased a copy of the Society of Ornamental Turners entire newsletter collection on one CD. All the issues from World War II on had been scanned and collected into a complete set on CD. Best of all, it had not been re-typed or reset. The scanned images were exactly as the originals. It was like being able to see the original documents on screen. Better yet, I could print them on my own printer and have the paper to read and hold -just like the real thing. From that experience the seed for this CD was planted. Through the miracles of modern technology the ability to scan from the originals and republish electronically via CD in an
affordable format became reality. You will hold in your possession an archivally stable piece of digital media which contains the entire book scanned from the original pages of Jerrys copy, just as it would look were you holding the real thing in your hands. We have published this with no restrictions or security limitations so you may print this on paper with your own printer.
As you will see in several places, and especially toward the end of the book, there are some voids. This is an unfortunate part of the history of this particular volume. After Jerry had shown
me his book, but before I could get it to digitize, he loaned it to another friend. The original book was published with a leather cover. Jerry was heartsick when he telephoned me to say that his friends dog had discovered the book and chewed on it! So, the voids you see are the result of canine vandalism. Regrettable to say the least, but that is the cause. Our first reaction was to do editorial in fills of the missing bits. Then as we examined the damage we decided that the voids were mostly cosmetic and those that did affect the text were not too serious. Most readers would be able to piece in the missing words or letters on their own. Thus we decided to
republish the images of the pages just as they really are. We have elected to do no touch ups whatsoever.
Lastly, we want to say something about the copyrights to this book. We firmly believe this book to be within the public domain and free to be republished as we present it here without violating any existing copyrights. We have researched the title and author as much as practical for this project. There is still a small budget involved for a book of this nature, so exhaustive amounts of legal research are not possible. But our research, knowledge and experience leave us convinced that we are in the right to be able to present this volume to you as a republication, without violating the original copyrights. If it should be discovered that we are in error, we want to be on
record here and now to say that we have no intention of purposefully violating any authors copyrights nor will we continue to do so if it is shown that we are. But we are willing to take that risk in order to return this book to the light and to bring to you and others like you the benefit of the priceless historic information it contains. Thus, with no malicious intentions, we assume the risks of our actions. Problems of the Finishing Room is, in our opinion, just too good to remain hidden.
Tim B. Inman