‘Jennie-isms’ from ‘Make a Chair from a Tree’

The proofs for “Make a Chair from a Tree” arrived this morning; it should be in the store and available in about eight weeks.

William Shakespeare is credited with the invention of 1,700 words (or at least his plays are the first known printed use thereof). Jennie Alexander can be credited with just a few less – and we even left some of them in the third edition of “Make a Chair from a Tree” (if their meanings could be easily gleaned from context). Below are just a handful of the interesting neologisms she coined and a few actual (but rarely used) words and phrases she uttered (and wrote) on a regular basis. Who knows? Maybe in 450 years, everyone will be saying “dingus” instead of “fixture.”

Baby Jerome (n.) Someone who crawls under the furniture (to look at joinery).

clacker (n.) A depth stop made from a chopstick that attaches to a drill bit shaft. It clacks when it hits the work.

clean-out chisel (n.) A chisel with a curve or angle at the bottom for cleaning out a mortise (like a gooseneck chisel, but shop-made).

dingus (n.). Any shop-made jig that gets used over and again. For example, the IYFLL (see below) is a dingus.

dotter (n). A thin stick with screws through it, used to simultaneously mark all mortise locations (or mark whatever you’ve laid out with said screws). Conscripted from the turning world.

furshlugginer (adj.) A piece of junk.

GABG (n.) The Glowing Acrylic Bevel Gauge. A dingus made from green acrylic. Used in sighting legs to the proper angle.

gixerdee (adj.) Something that’s out of truth – synonym for cattywampus (which she used interchangeably with gixerdee).

Goldilocksing (adj.), Choosing the best compromise between alternatives, such as the size of a rung mortise.

IYFLL (n). In Your Face Line Level. A dingus that hooks onto a drill-bit extender to help you keep the bit level.

knocker-docker (n.) a wooden mallet.

Miss Moist-Bone Dry (n.) One of many Jennie’s many pseudonyms.

Mouldy figs (n.) People who listen to early Jazz; Jennie (who was a jazz musician) appropriated it as a term for hand-tool purists.

ovality (n.) The quality of being oval.

spruck (n.) The sound a piercer or spoon bit makes while tearing up the wood fibers as it makes its way around a hole.

truncadon (n.) The remainder of a billet after the sapwood and bark has been rived from it – i.e. it has been truncated into its useful wood.

toothy critters (n.) A metal planing stop with sharp teeth.

— Fitz

p.s. Anyone who spent time with Jennie has more to add – above are the just the words/phrases that Larry Barrett, Peter Follansbee, Christopher Schwarz and I could jot down off the top of our heads. So if you have others, please add them in the comments!

A “knocker-docker” in Jennie’s hand. (Photo by Harper Burke)

William Shakespeare is credited with the invention of 1,700 words (or at least his plays are the first known printed use thereof). Jennie Alexander can be credited with just a few less – and we even left some of them in the third edition of “Make a Chair from a Tree” (if their meanings could…Read MoreMake a Chair from a TreeLost Art PressRead More

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