The World’s Most Beautiful Font?

The Futility Closet podcast had an interesting episode a few weeks back that told the story of the creation of what many consider to be the most beautiful font ever designed: Doves type. In 1913 the type’s creator, Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, threw the typeface into the Thames rather than let it fall into the hands of his unscrupulous business partner.

Designer Robert Green spent years attempting to recreate the font. Unsatisfied with the results, he went to the bridge that Cobden-Sanderson had stood on while pitching tons of typeface. Over one hundred years later in the shallow, muddy waters at the base of the bridge, Green found enough Doves typeface to perfect his digital recreation. You can now purchase Doves font through Green’s website.

Something should also be said for Cobden-Sanderson’s bookbinding skills.

William Morris made some equally impressive printing achievements with his Kelmscott Press, a last ditch effort to hold back the tides of industrialized mediocrity. I found a list of Kelmscott Press facsimiles that you can view online including John Ruskin’s The Nature of Gothic : A Chapter of The stones of Venice.

Call me fuddy-duddy, but I think the Cobden-Sanderson/Morris Arts and Crafts posse have a few things left to tell us about the importance of beauty in our lives.

Why You Should Own an Impact Driver

Drill on left, impact driver on right.

Drill on left, impact driver on right.

How did I spend so many years without knowing the liberating power of the impact driver? How many needlessly stripped screws have abused my patience? How long has the madness of switching bits out on my under-powered drill mocked my home repair progress? Why did I not gift myself an impact driver sooner?

A cousin to those “rat-tat-tat” noise-making impact wrenches found at the auto garage, an impact driver is mostly for driving home screws (or a rough hole in recalcitrant wood). An impact driver works like a normal drill up until the point it starts to encounter resistance. At that point an anvil engages to increase torque. It’s not to be confused with a hammer drill, used for drilling holes in concrete and masonry. A hammer drill taps down the length of the bit, whereas a impact driver’s internal hammer is used to increase torque, i.e. rotation. The increased power of a impact driver means fewer stripped screws and less muscle fatigue. The two disadvantages are the need for more expensive forged steel (rather than cast steel) accessories and the fact that impact drivers make a lot of noise. They also only work with 1/4″ hex shank bits and have a collet instead of a keyless chuck. As for the noise, you’ll definitely wake up the night clubbing members of the household if you begin work early.

If you’re an urban homesteader type planning to do a lot of chicken coop/shed building type projects I would highly recommend owning both a drill and an impact driver. That way, you can drill pilot holes and then drive the screw with your impact driver without having to constantly change bits on your drill. And the increased power of an impact driver means your arm will be less sore after a day’s work. When my corded drill started to give out I replaced it with a Milwaukee M12 12-volt driver and drill. You can buy these two as a kit or separately. If you’re manufacturing cabinets all day you’ll probably want to go with an 18-volt tool but, for most of us, a 12-volt drill and impact driver is all you need. I like the compactness of the Milwaukee M12 even though it means charging the batteries more often.

Saturday Tweets: The Weather, Moletakers and More Cats

City Mapper, an Alternative to Uber/Lyft

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Queasy about the exploitation of gig economy employees? I am, and this is why I’ve yet to step into an Uber or Lyft. Apparently the City of London agrees with me having, this week, pulled Uber’s license.

My ride sharing alternative, when I don’t feel like driving or riding my bike, is a handy and free public transit app called City Mapper. City Mapper works in 39 cities worldwide. Enter a starting and ending point in City Mapper and the app offers you a number of transit options along with estimated travel time.

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Once you choose a transit option it shows you a map and helps you navigate to the nearest transit stop. When you’re on a bus or train it will buzz your phone to notify you when to get off (good for the transit dozing types, I suppose).

City Mapper runs on iPhones, Androids and on the web. It also suggests bike sharing options (though I haven’t tested this feature) and will even help you hail an Uber if that floats your transit boat.

110 A Report from the 2017 National Heirloom Expo

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On the podcast this week are three interviews I recorded at the 7th annual National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, California in the first week of September 2017. The organizers of the expo, Baker Creek Seeds, hold a press conference in the midst of the fair and that gave me the chance to talk to some really interesting folks including:

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.