Recharging: a reading list for a snowy winter

December and January. Cold, dark, and not too pleasant to be working in the shop when it’s in the teens outside. The little heater is designed to keep the greenhouse above 32 Fahrenheit. On sunnier days, it gets to the balmy ’60s in there, and I can carve freely. But, today, there is one of New England’s infamous ice storms blowing outdoors; the day will never lighten up, nor will it warm up.

I am settling in by the woodstove. The cat and dog are joining me for an afternoon of study. If you’ve read my advice to beginners, you’ll note that literacy in the craft is very high in my esteem for those beginning. Even more so then for those of us who have spent time maturing in the craft. This post will be about what’s on my reading table right now ( well aside from the Sci-Fi that I read for fun).

1.) Woodworking Wisdom & Know-How, The Editors of Fine Woodworking. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers- 2018

This book is available as a very thick paperback or as an e-book. Neither of these formats will break the budget, and it belongs on many a woodworker’s shop bookshelf – that assortment of books with practical information that you may need on demand. It proclaims itself to be “One Complete Practical Volume!” Well, I don’t know about that, but there is enough to keep you dipping in for knowledge on areas in which you have voids. The paperback was $21.99 (US). The printing is handicapped by the inferior paper quality and a faded look to the photos. The digital form might be preferable if you are comfortable using a tablet. Too bad such a useful book is shackled by poor production.

Being that we can’t know everything relating to woodwork, but might need a comprehensive reference, I advise this as a should buy. The first essay in the book is about cherry ( my favorite wood); OK, I am prejudiced.

2.) Woodcraft- Master The Art of Green Woodworking with Key Techniques And Inspiring Projects. Barn The Spoon ( author).DK Penguin Random House, 2019

I craft many of my treen ( spoons, spatulas, bowls, and such) from green cherry. Otherwise, I do little in greenwood. I picked this book up to expand my knowledge base. It’s comprehensive and offers a staged introduction to tools, techniques and projects. Unlike the Woodworking Know-How book this one is a pleasure to pick up and read. The publisher did a fantastic job on page design and layout. Everything is well photographed or illustrated, and printed on good quality paper. At $30.00 (US) I considered it to be a good shop shelf addition. It is also available in a digital edition. 

Both of the above books are hefty and could double as weights in a pinch around the shop.

3.) Samuel McIntire * Carving an American Style, Dean T. Lahifainen. Peabody Essex Museum- 2007

Not a casual read. I have been dipping into it on and off for a year. McIntire was a polymath who worked as a decorative carver of furniture, ships carver, architect, house builder, and even a musician. McIntire was an influential stylist, and his work continues to inspire and influence design down to this day.

 I’d recommend this book to you as the best researched and comprehensive examination of McIntire’s work and life to date. The many illustrations and top quality photos are, for a carver, worthwhile even if you don’t read the carefully researched text. This book would not be a casual purchase; look for it through Interlibrary Loan unless you are willing to part with $80 – $200.

That’s what I am exploring. If you have favorites send me a message and let me know – Lou

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