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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Most Hedonistic Book in Woodworking

Did I get your attention?  Coarse synonyms in the title notwithstanding, the newest title from Lost Art Press, Make a Joint Stool From a Tree, has nothing to do with immediate gratification.  In fact, this book, written by Jenny Alexander and Peter Follansbee, is all about patient satisfaction.  But hyperbole gets the page views.

The book has not been released long enough for anyone to actually make a green wood joint stool yet.  However, I did read it twice.  The first read for me is all about getting a sense of the whole.  I do a fair bit of skimming over fine technical detail on the first run.  Basically I look for sanity of the content and relevance to my work and/or desires.  The second time reading technical material is when I build the subject in my head.  A lot of things do not get a second reading from me.

I have to admit that I started reading this book with a negative attitude.  I have never worked with green wood and have read very little about using it as a medium.  I expressed my misgivings about working green wood on another blog and Peter Follansbee himself replied that there is much more to the book than green wood.  He did not lie. 

Make a Joint Stool From a Tree is a 17th century history disguised as a technical wood working book.  Every step, every component, is put into historical perspective.  If you are not in a reading mood, you can pick this book up from the coffee table and peruse the large number of photographs, plates, and diagrams; the large 9" by 12" format really does place this book into the coffee table class.  Unlike traditional glossy coffee table books, this title is printed on matte paper thereby preserving it's usefulness as a reference (shiny pages are heck to read).

Do not be turned off by the learning history stuff because there are still plenty of hard core woodworking tips and techniques buried in the pages.  The authors wisely skip discussing things that are mundane or rudimentary to modern day woodworkers.  Instead the reader is treated with how to construct, or join, furniture in the vein of the stool with a minimum of tools.  Make a Joint Stool From a Tree is a man's book full of hewing, hacking, rough tolerances, and an aversion to directions beyond what you see in front of you.

The preceding two paragraphs sound like quite the contradiction, don't they?  You'll understand once you read the book.

Here is a low cost list of uncommon tools to get you started in green woodworking:

Beadle (I never know what the correct spelling is because I see it so many ways)
Broad Axe (hatchet, really)

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