A History of Woodworking  ~  Raymond McInnis
manual authors #5

Woodworker Manual #5: Franklin H Gottshall -- A "Classic" Cabinetmaker/Teacher in American Woodworking Annals

1931: Franklin H. Gottshall. Simple Colonial Furniture: Building Your Own Family Heirlooms.   Bonanza Books, 1931. 

1935 Franklin H Gottshall, Simple Colonial Furniture. 1935.

1937: Franklin H. Gottshall. How to Design Period Furniture, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co.

 Indexed in Index to Handicrafts 1943

Gottshall’s 1937 book is one of the landmark publications in woodworking, pretty much still in demand today as a source of inspiration, ideas, and design principles. Below, in the gray-shaded box, is Gottshall's "Foreword". I have added a few caveats, in square brackets, at the bottom.


This book, with its principles of design directly related to furniture of the important periods, is presented with the hope that it is a step toward improvement in a field where improvement is desirable. Good taste in furniture design, as in all arts, may be cultivated. The acquisition of fine judgment and good taste is seldom the result of chance. Definite rules, of a type that do not con-fine the designer within limits that are too narrow, will be of material assistance in laying the foundation for designs that are consistently superior in beauty and merit.

The material and information is presented so that illustrations and descriptions are as near together as possible. This makes the assimilation of vital facts and information easier than where more turning of pages is necessary. Dimensions have been given in every case where this was possible or desirable. While it is frankly admitted that these cannot fit every case or problem that will come up, they are, however, sufficiently accurate to form sound bases for the type of experiments that will be necessary to formulate original designs. The author's aim, throughout the book, has been to aid the designer who wishes to do original work. For this same reason, a rather lengthy and complete glossary has been added, which, with its references andcross references, together with references constantly given in the text, makes the finding of valuable information and definite facts easy.

In addition to the large number of illustrations whose scope is limited to the presentation of information of a general character, definite projects too have been included. We refer to the projects shown on Plates 7, 8, 13, 15, 20, 25, 27, 31, 36, 37, 42, 46, 49, 50, 53, 55, and 60.

Most of these projects have been built from the drawings herewith presented, and photographs and all other essential data are given. This was done with two aims in view. One was to show the student the correct manner in which to work up his designs, and the other aim was to tie the information given in each chapter definitely to a case problem.

A great deal of the information appearing in this book has never been presented in a single volume before. In order to make the presentation of such a large amount of information possible it was necessary to do two things. First, the necessary and desirable facts and characteristics concerning each style had to be collected. Secondly, they had to be presented in such a manner that authenticity would not be impaired or lost. This, it is believed, has been accomplished by working up new and original designs in most cases, in which this information is clearly shown in its proper forms and combinations. Many authors have tried to present information on the important periods, resulting in exhaustive works, usually in several large volumes. One author, for example, in presenting the characteristics of American furniture alone, took three large volumes and several thousand photographs and a great number of line drawings. By adopting the method of presentation used in this book, the prohibitive expense of gathering many photographs is not necessary. The essential characteristics of a large number of chairs, for in-stance, may be combined in one illustration, which presents, perhaps more in-formation than ten or more photographs, on which it is difficult or impossible to show pertinent facts relating to the project. The styles and techniques of drawing have also purposely been varied, to aid the draftsman who lacks experience.

The book is intended for three classes of people: (1) For schools and teachers, to use as a text or reference book. (2) For professional men, including furniture designers, draftsmen, architects, and interior decorators. (3) For amateurs who design and build furniture as a hobby. The need of each class has been definitely kept in mind when the material was being assembled.

The author wishes to thank the following people for material assistance and suggestions:

William Ball, Sr., of Hope Manor, West Chester, Pa., for permission to make drawings of hardware which he manufactures, shown in Figures 2, 7, and 10, Plate 6; Figures 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11,12, 13, 14, and 15, Plate 12; Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, g, 10, and 12, Plate 21; Plate 26; Figures 1 to 12, Plate 38; Figures 1 to 9 and 11 to 18, Plate 54.
The Berry Schools, Mt. Berry, Ga., for photographs of Figures 46, 103, 126, and 235; Queen Anne hall table, page 95; Sheraton chair, page 151; mirror, page 153; Brothers Adam armchair, page 163.

The Grand Rapids Brass Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., for permission to make drawings of hardware which they manufacture, shown in Figures 1, 3, 9, 11, 12, and 14, Plate 6; Figures 1, 3, and 10, Plate 12; Figures 5 and 11, Plate 21; Figures 13 to 19, Plate 38; Plate 47; and Figure 10, Plate 54.

The Metropolitan Museum of New York for photographs of important pieces in their collection, shown in Figures 41, 61, 67, 86, 144, 172, 190, 241, and 252; the Queen Anne settee, page 97; Chippendale wing chair, page 125; and the chest of drawers, page 229.

Wallace Nutting, and The Old America Co., of Framingham, Mass., for photographs of Figures 81, 94, 122, 165, 274, 275, 281, and 286; the Sheraton bedstead, page 154; the chest on chest, page 227; and Figures 6, 8, and 13, Plate 6.

The F. Schumacher Co., of New York, for photographs of Figures 47 to 55 inclusive and of the American Federal chair on page 229, and for permission to use printed material relating to fabrics, formerly published by them.

The Elgin A. Simonds Co., of Syracuse, N. Y., for photographs of Figures 66, 107. 108, 223, 226, 243, and 256; the illiam and Mary table, page 82; Queen Anne chair, page 95; Sheraton wing chair, page 153; and the Spanish table, page 196.

Mr. L. Day Perry, Editor of Popular Homecraft, for permission to use material published by the author in a series of articles on principles of design.

Mr. John J. Metz, Editor of The Industrial Arts and Vocational Education
Magazine, for permission to use material published in a series of articles on principles of design.

Mr. Nelson Grofe, artist, of Boyer-town, Pa., for material aid in working up the chapter on Color.

To all others, who may have been missed in the foregoing list, but whose encouragement and assistance the author gratefully acknowledges.


1939 Franklin H Gottshall, Santa Claus's Workshop 1939.

1940 Franklin H Gottshall, Design For the Craftsman Milwaukee, Bruce Pub. Co, 1940.

1942 Amanda Watkins Helium and Franklin H Gottshall, You Can Whittle and Carve New York, Bonanza Books, 1942.

1943 Amanda W Helium and Franklin H Gottshall, You Can Whittle and Carve Milwaukee, WI: Bruce, 1943.

1950 Franklin H Gottshall, Making Useful Things of Wood New York: Bonanza Books, 1957.

1952 Franklin H Gottshall, Woodwork For The Beginner Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Pub. Co. 1952.

1954 Franklin H Gottshall, Craftwork in Metal, Wood, Leather, Plastics Milwaukee, Bruce Pub. Co. [1954]

1957 Franklin H Gottshall, Heirloom Furniture New York: Bonanza Bools, 1957.

1963 Franklin H Gottshall, Wood carving and Whittling Made Easy New York: Macmillan, 1963

1966 Franklin H Gottshall, Furniture of Pine, Poplar, and Maple Milwaukee: Bruce, 1966.

1971 Franklin H Gottshall, Reproducing Antique Furniture New York, Crown, 1971.

1971 Franklin H Gottshall, How to make colonial furniture New York Bruce Pub, Co. [1971

1977 Franklin H Gottshall, Wood Carving and Whittling For Everyone New York. Scribner, 1977

1979 Franklin H Gottshall, Masterpiece Furniture Making Publisher Harrisburg, Pa : Stackpole Books, 1979.

1979 Franklin H Gottshall, Making Furniture Masterpieces: 30 Projects With Measured Drawings Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1979. 222 pages. Reprinted, Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 1996.

1983 Franklin H Gottshall, Woodcarving And Whittling For Everyone. London: Bell & Hyman 1983.

1994 Franklin H Gottshall, Making Antique Furniture Reproductions: Instructions and Measured Drawings For 40 Classic Projects New York: Dover Publications, 1994.