Woodworker's manuals 1941 to 1950

What follows immediately below are preliminary remarks designed to highlight matters that I have discovered in beginning a survey of woodworking manuals published over a period of three centuries.

Why survey three centuries of woodworking manuals? The main focus of my study is the 20th century, but since woodworking manuals published in the 18th century remain popular among certain amateur woodworkers today, I believe that I need to explore approaches that allows you to visualize the context in which these "original" woodworking manuals were published, and thus may be able to sense their significance as timeless artifacts.

My first convictions about woodworking manuals is that the intent of their authors in assembling these manuals is to instruct and to inspire.

The "to instruct" -- the "how-to-do-it" function -- is obvious. Potential woodworkers need guidance, and guidance comes best from other woodworkers' experience.

The "to inspire" part may not be obvious to beginners, of course, but finding any evidence of attempts toward inspiration is usually not difficult, especially if you read the introduction to a woodworking manual.

For example, read the introduction to the 1946 woodworker's manual, How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, published by Popular Science.

This manual's Introduction revives the term, "Skill Hunger", coined and popularized in the Depression by promoters such as Lawrence Pearsall Jack, for promoting use of "leisure time" wisely.

What is "skill hunger?" For the editors of the woodworker's manual, How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools, skill hunger concerns "How the Hammer, Saw and Try-Square Can Satisfy the Urge to Make Things". Read more on this term by clicking on this hyperlink.

In comparison, how does this 1946, How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, manual stand up in promoting use of power tools over competitive manuals?

I checked this matter by doing a survey of woodworking manuals published between 1941 and 1950 in the Worldcat bibliographic database

(Worldcat, the world's largest bibliographic database of books, periodicals, publications of governments, etc, etc., currently contains records for over 50 million items.)

How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, Worldcat registers only 17 copies in libraries worldwide -- telling us that libraries did not perceive this title as a "keeper", meaning that we can't use library holdings as an indicator of the impact of this manual on the amateur woodworking movement in the '40s.

(Since How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools is over 50 years old, and has been "replaced" by numerous other more up-to-date manuals, most public libraries could have "discarded" their copies for more recently published books.

By discard, do not think the trash can; instead, it is more likely that the book was offered for sale at one of the book sales public libraries conduct annually. As a rule, public libraries -- unlike college libraries -- do not consider themselves "last copy" repositories. However, while this assumption may be soundly based, it is still only speculation.)

Worldcat registers that in 1946, 35 volumes were published, and for the decade, i.e., from 1941-1950, 206 volumes were published that libraries classified as woodworking manuals. So, with these figures, we can conclude that the How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools volume had much competition, especially in a nation occupied by a war.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools was, however, indexed in the Index to Handicrafts,  Modelmaking  and Workshop Projects, 2d supplement, 1950. This is one volume in a series of five volumes, published between 1943 and 1975. These volumes were purchased widely by public libraries, because their contents are indexes the internal contents of manuals. Pages of The Index to Handicrafts where certain "how-to" plans are accessible: for example, the following entry shows that you can find:

"Mortising and shaping on the drill press". In How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, pp. 91-95.

The Index to Handicrafts began as an in-house file of hand-written 3 x5 inch library cards in the Pittsburgh Public Library. Click on this link for an online example of how a public library lists these volumes.

How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools is still in the Index to Handicrafts,  Modelmaking  and Workshop Projects volume, but the manual itself -- probably because in public libraries it is considered outdated -- has been removed from the shelves of many public libraries.



Chronological List of Woodworking Manuals, Periodicals,  1941-1950:

Edwin T. Hamilton, Home Carpentry. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1941, copryright 1940. 466 pages.
The copy I am using is dated "1941", but the copyright date is 1940, and -- on the verso of the title page -- is a note stating that this is the second printing, meaning that the book could be included on the 1931-1940 list. 
(Again, on numbers of copies printed, I have been following this general rule: each printing is 2,500 copies, which means that this book has sold at least 5,000 copies, not bad for a nation still in the throes of Depression and, in 1941, poised for a declaration of war against Germany and Japan.)
While the title reads "carpentry", it is obvious from the book's contents that what Hamilton means is really "woodworking". Throughout, attention to "building construction" -- which i believe is the true realm of carpentry -- is minimal; instead all of the projects recommended are furniture. 
Widely ranging over woodworking tools operations, the book itself covers the topic in a manner that is helpful for a beginner to amateur woodworking, as noted by reviews -- found through Google Print -- in Scientific American and Child Study -- unfortunately without notation of exact issues.

In many respects, Hamilton's manual compares with John Gerald Shea and Paul Not Wenger's  Woodworking For Everybody, which came out only three years later, in 1944.


1941: Baxter, William T. and Lackey, Paul G. Woodworking projects and upholstery. Van Nostrand,  1941.


1941: Stanley Works Inc. Stanley tool guideNew Britain , Conn. : Stanley Works, 1941. 32 pages.

1941: Popular Mechanics. Forty Power Tools You Can Make. 1941. 

This  96 page manual was reprinted in 1943, 1944, and 1948.

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1943 and 1950


1941: Giant home workshop manual; a handbook of tested projects, working methods, and shop hints for the home workshop enthusiast, with directions and detailed construction drawings for making furniture, models, novelties, household accessories, sporting equipment, home and garden improvements, shop aids, and many other articles. With over 1500 working drawings, diagrams and illustrations. 1941 496 p. illus., New York , Popular Science Pub. Co. [2d ed 1943?]


Prepared by the editorial staff of Popular Science Monthly, only about 1/5 of the manual's pages are dedicated to woodworking..

Given the era in which this manual was published -- its publication coincides with America' s entry into WW II in 1941 --  you have forgive the aura of dreariness that it evinces. "Giant" in the title is indeed the operative word, and you suspect that the urge to gorge this volume with projects comes from the constraints of rationing that inevitably accompanies a nation's deployment into a war economy. Recognizing this, apologetically, the Preface states,

...To present such a large amount of material in the scope of one volume, it has been necessary to use much of it in the briefest possible form. In certain cases supplementary information may be found under other headings..

One gets a gist of this sketchiness in the two pages -- for each project -- dedicated to explaining how to construct a Chippendale Slat-Back Armchair and an "eighteenth century secretary. ...



However, these reservations do not dampen our enthusiasm for the progress in home workshops that this manual signals:

its section on woodworking tools features at least four significant events in the history of the amateur woodworking movement.

First, the use of a shaper in the home shop: "the Light Duty Delta " shaper. Is it the Delta Light Duty? Popular Science does not indicate the manufacturer, but in appearance it is a Rockwell Delta Light Duty no 1180.

Second, "high speed routing", combining a lathe and a circular saw, a set-up that in effect creates a horizontal mortiser for the home shop, and which anticipates the Shopsmith, which hit the home shop market in 1947.

horizontal mortiser



   shopsmith 10E


 shopsmith 10E with speed changer













Brief note on Shopsmith models pictured above:

Shopsmith 10E (Experimental) & 10ER (Experimental Revised)

These combanation machines were distributed to Montgomery Ward and many are still in use today. They had exposed belts and were put on hand made benches. Loved by amateur woodworkers, a reputed 150,000 units were sold between 1947 -- when the 10E was introduced on the market. From Magna's advertising (in February, 1952), over 125,000 units were sold world wide, with approximately 100,000 of those were sold in the America. Production continued until the end of 1953.

(A Horizontal Mortiser can make accurate, identical mortises quickly and easily, a fact that users of horizontal mortisers confirm readily; check out the review on combination tools, Fine Woodworking,  January/February, 2003, p 53.)



Third, "resawing" rough pieces of timber with a 14-inch bandsaw.

Fourth, using router bits and/or shaper cutters on a drill press.


1941: Williams A. D. Spanish colonial furniture. 1941. Bruce.

  Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1943

I judge this woodworker's manual to be part of the Colonial Revival, although, as you read the quoted section below -- it comes to us in a rather indirect manner. According Williams, the revival was more accidental than deliberate. For a more detailed and up-to-date account of the revival of Spanish colonial furniture, consult Lonn Taylor's  New Mexican Furniture: 1600-1940 (1987), cited in Glossary entry, Colonial Revival. Taylor begins his account in a much earlier period,  with the Spanish expedition of Francisco Vasques de Coronado in 1540 in search of gold and the Seven Cities of Cibola , and ends with the 1930s craft revival of early Hispanic-style furniture.  

From Williams' Preface:

This book is the outgrowth of some years of study of Spanish-American colonial furniture as this was developed in the vast territory now embraced in the states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The collection is offered in the hope that the designs which are frankly adaptations or copies of early pieces in private possession or preserved in museums, will appeal to homecraftsmen and students.

In the course of his career as a teacher in public schools and in Indian schools in the Southwest, the author at first followed the conventional plan of teaching the usual simple woodwork and furniture construction. Hardwoods were used and pieces of interest to students or of value to the schools and institu­tions were made. Little attention was given to the local inheritance of Spanish and Indian culture, until one day a very old Spanish colonial chest was brought into the school shop for repair.

The excellent results of this simple job led to the study of locally available ancient pieces, and a number of tables and chairs were copied or adapted. Further study of old furniture and experiments in the school shops led to the gradual development of a course which has been successfully offered in grades seven to twelve. ...   The pieces developed have given satisfaction in the making and in daily use in the home and school, and are here offered in the hope that they will help perpetuate some of the valuable early American culture which has been long neglected.

1942: Griswold, Lester E. Handicrafts; simplified procedure and projects in leather, celluloid, metal, wood, batik, rope and cordage, primitive Indian crafts. 1942 ed. Author. Colorado Springs , Col.


1942: Stanley Works Inc. How to Work with Tools and Wood 1942. Original, hardcover, 188 pages


1942: Nelson Lincoln Burbank . Shopcrafter's handbook, Simmons-Boardman 1942 141 p. illus., diagrs.

  Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1943  

From p. 9:


CORNER CLOCK CASE [(photo and drawing on opd.) Note that in 1942, there is an assumption by the authors of this manual that that the amateur woodworker has access to a table saw with stacked dado blades, a shaper and a band saw.]  

"Patterned somewhat on the lines of the familiar grandfather clock, this attractive clock case has the advantage of fitting into a corner while offering shelf space for the display of other pieces.  

The construction is quite simple. There are three uprights, two front and one rear. These are rabbeted to take the 1/4 inch plywood panels, and also dadoed to form supports for the shelves. The dado cuts are diagonally across the work, making it necessary to hold the upright in a vee block, as shown in the photo, while making the out. Each out in each of the three uprights should be made one after the other, using the same stop in order to insure accurate spacing.  

The shelves are made from 3/4 inch stock to the shape shown in the plan drawing. It is a good idea to make a full-size drawing of this plan before sawing wood. The front edge of each shelf is rounded on the shaper. The door is a simple job of mitering.  

As shown in the drawing, the sides of the door are out at 45 degrees to fit the inside faces of the uprights. Top and bottom pediments are cut out on the band saw to the shape shown, after which the ends are rounded off, as can be seen in the drawing (bottom pediment). Each pediment is screw-fastened to the shelf against which it fits. A turned finial in wood or brass should be fitted to the center portion of the top pediment. A professional touch is given the piece by covering the facing edges of the front uprights with lace mouldering. This can match or contrast with the finish.  

The clock movement and dial are fitted on a suitable framework, the base of the frame being fastened to the shelf. The rabbet in the door frame is for glass only. A 12-in. square dial is required. Any style of movement from a simple electric to a full Westminster chime with twin motors can be fitted in the clock compartment."



1942: Clifford K. Lush It's Fun To Build Modern Furniture. Bruce Publishing 1942 111 pages $2.00

Blurb from dust jacket for Shea's Colonial Furniture, extolling Lush's It's Fun To Build Modern Furniture:  


  It's really fun to build the modern furniture shown in this interesting collection of more than fifty things to make, rang­ing from a simple condiment shelf and knife rack to the more complex pieces such as a desk, a table, and other pieces.  


By following these instruc­tions, the home craftsman can make simple economical, and not too time-consuming wooden things of modern design. Some articles are constructed with ordinary hand tools, others with a minimum of light power equipment. All are made from easily obtainable, modern ma­terial.  


An accurate bill of material, a fully dimensioned working drawing, a picture drawing, in. structions for making, and de-tailed descriptions of special operations or unusual problems accompany each abject. Choice of woods, methods of construction, and finishes are suggested in wide variety so the worker can adapt them to his own time and means.



1942: G. A. Raeth. Master Homecraft Projects. 1942. Bruce.  

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1943: Popular Mechanics. Forty Power Tools You Can Make. Chicago : Popular Mechanics, 1943. 96 pages.  

Evidently also issued in 1944. Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1943: Willoughby, George A., and Chamberlain, Duane G. General Shop Handbook; Instruction Units for Beginners in School and at Home. Peoria, IL: Manual Arts, 1943. 96 pages.


The second of three editions, the first and third, respectively, 1936 and 1958, this woodworker's manual follows the same theme as the textbooks designed for industrial education by Emanuel E Ericson -- four eds for 1930 through 1976 -- the inclusion of the homeworkshop component for boys. What is different about Willoughby and Chamberlain is that not until 1958 is any attention given power tools in the textbook's contents.


1943: William W Klenke. Furniture joinery. Peoria , Ill. , C.A. Bennett Co. 1943 144 pages. incl. front., illus., diagrs. 20 cm. File on opd


FOREWORD for Furniture Joinery


FOR SEVENTEEN years, Joints and How They Are Made, the book on which this book is based, was used with success in the school shops, by the home craftsman, and as a reference book by furniture de-signers, architects, and draftsmen. During that period there has sprung up throughout this vast land of ours an ever-increasing number of home craftsmen: boys, men and women of all ages, who are especially interested, not in jointmaking alone, but rather in how to make furniture and other articles of wood wherein, of course, the making of joints and how to assemble them play an important part.  

([Temporay notes: Statistics on women in WW II: In 1942, just between the months of January and July, the estimates of the proportion of jobs that would be 'acceptable' for women was raised by employers from 29 to 55 percent; About half of the working women were married; By the end of the war the average income for women had risen by 38%; By 1945, one in every three workers was a woman. source: Wikipedia, but as time allows, will look for more stats].)  

However, for GIs, conscription/enlistment cutoff date was 35th birthday, meaning that only young men served in the active armed services, leaving a cadre  of older men at home. Plus, rationing -- imposed by the federal government -- created a need for furniture (to be made by amateurs?) ]  

More text from FOREWORD: "Since furniture, cabinet, and mill work is only as strong as its weakest joint, it at once becomes of paramount importance first to select the correct joint and secondly that it be made to fit and hold together permanently.

Although no attempt is made to show all the wood joints known to man, as some of these joints are impractical, some can be replaced to advantage by joints the author has given, and still others come under the heading of the steel square, the complete treatment of which has' been given by many good authors; however, within these pages a good joint is shown for every type of wood construction as used by the home craftsman.  

So as to simplify matters for the less experienced woodworker, who has no expert to instruct or help him, detailed working drawings of different type pieces of furniture are included in this book and then simple instructions are given in making the joints involved.

1943: Rothman, Michael. Build it yourself. 1943. Greenberg.

  Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1944: Dundore, Roy H. Home craft course in Pennsylvania German painted furniture. 1944. Keyser.



1944: John Gerald Shea and Paul Not Wenger. Woodworking For Everybody. International Textbook, 1944.


1944: COLLINS, A. FREDERICK. Working With Tools For Fun and Profit. New York . New Home Library.. Reprint. 8vo. 228 pp. with index plus adverts. Manual of home carpentry with 250 illustrations.


1945: Edwin T Hamilton. Home carpentry. New York : Dodd, Mead & Co., 1945 466 p. : ill.


1945: Popular Science. Complete Home Workshop Encyclopedia: 868 Things to Make and Do at Home. Popular Science publishing, 1945. 578 pages.

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950

Lacking an "introduction", this guide to the home workshop, curiously, mixes many different topics associated with activities in/around the home at the close of WW II, but even an elaborate table of contents and index fail to relieve users from having to leaf through the book's pages. The book gives you the feeling that, in anticipation of a burgeoning market for peacetime activities at the drawdown of the War, it was rushed out quickly.

1946: Edward W Hobbs. Easy furniture building: a practical handbook for the home craftsman. London, Cassell Co. 1946 [2d. ed.]. 147 p. illus.,


1946: How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools. Popular Science Publishing, 1946.

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950

For a take on this woodworker's manual, as a departure from the straight-forward guide to woodworking -- and a foray into the notions of the psychology of creativity, through the reference to "skill hunger"-- see this webpage.

router fixture PS how to get the most out of your homeworkshop 1946However, this manual suffers from the constraints imposed by our government during WW II, i.e., rations imposed on manufacturing and publishing. It is of poor quality in several ways: pulp-ish paper, now very fragile -- my copy a light brown --; most photographs are undersized, and not sharp and clear, and the numerous diagrams and drawings -- while mostly quite clear -- are small, which makes the viewer struggle to get needed details.

Perhaps the best example to validate my claim about a low standard is the article on the router: In the image from the section of the router -- reproduced on the left --, for example, readers are asked to visualize a fixture of a router "veining" a round workpiece, "using notched edge of fence". Where is the "notched edge" and the "fence"? I think, instead, it should read, "curved edge", something that you can see if you click here.

Such criticism -- sixty years after the fact is perhaps unfair, or at the very least, unwarranted, given the conditions everybody was operating under in the wake of rationing during WW II.

(Another consideration: the router, as a recently introduced portable power tool, had yet to be viewed as a
needed tool in a homeworkshop,  attitude that changed quickly when you look at the treatment the router receive four years later, in Milton Gunerman's How to Operate Your Power Tools


1946: Herman Hjorth. Principles of Woodworking. Bruce, 1946. TT185 .H65 1946 in wilson

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950   An updating of Hjorth's 1930, first edition?

1946: Wyatt, Edwin M. Wonders in wood. Bruce, 1946.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1946: William H. Johnson L. V. and Newkirk. General woodworking. New York: Macmillan, 1946. 283 pages. This book is 29 cm.

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950.


FOREWORD: Woodworking is an important part of our industrial world. The young people of today should learn about the woodworking industries as a part of their general education and as a possible future vocation or avocation. A clear picture of the woodworking industries and their products not only adds interest to living but also improves consumer appreciation for the products of these industries.

    This volume ... is a pupil text in general woodworking. It covers the fundamentals of woodworking and gives the basic introduction to carpentry, cabinetmaking, patternmaking, and carving. It contains a wealth of projects that vary from elementary to advanced. The projects give the pupils a wide choice and afford them an opportunity to learn the processes that are fundamental in woodworking. The content of this text is adequate for a two-year course in general woodworking or an intensive one-year course, or it can be used for the woods area in the industrial arts laboratory. The text has been checked for reading level and supplemented with in-formative drawings and photographs. ...


A textbook that reflects the "Industrial Arts" era in the history of American education, which roughly dates from 1920 to 1950.  Organizationally, this textbook similar to  the model developed in 1888 by W. F. M. Goss and later employed by authors like Charles G. Wheeler. That is, for ease of teaching and learning in the school shop, after a broad arrangement of material, chapter by chapter, the discussion is laid out by topical units, such as "dado", "groove", "rabbet" and so on. The text is enhanced using both photos and diagrams. Goss and Wheeler used numbers as well as headings to designate topics, but Johnson and Newkirk simply lay the information with headings.

(When numbers are included for topics, the manual is automatically set up with a very useful indexing system; that is, in the manual's section on cutting "grooves" in workpieces, if a reader doesn't know what a "stacked dado" is, by inserting the number of the paragraph in which stacked dado is discussed, readers can go directly to the section on stacked dado. Such a practice eliminates going back and forth between the manual's text and its index.)

What really distinguishes this woodworker's manual, though, is the amount of space, 20 pages, dedicated to "the homeworkshop" and to messages throughout that woodworking, is -- indeed -- a worthwhile leisure activity. For example, included among the introductory paragraphs for the chapter on cabinetmaking is this observation:

From the book's Unit V,  on Cabinetmaking

    ... Many home craftsmen turn to cabinetmaking as an interesting hobby and as a fine use for leisure time. The tools and materials are readily obtainable and are not prohibitive in price, and with careful work many useful articles will result. ...



   From the book's Unit X, on The Home Workshop


      The home workshop enables a boy to spend his leisure profitably. In working there he gains valuable experience with tools and materials. Much technical information is acquired in working with wood and other materials and in doing repair jobs in the home. The home workshop may be devoted entirely to working with one kind of material, such as metal, wood, plastics, or clay, or it may be designed so that work may be done there in more than one of these materials.

    If you live in a borne where repair jobs on the building must be done, provision should be made in the workshop for such work as painting window screens and making minor plumbing and electrical repairs. Since this is a book on woodworking, we are concerned mainly with a home workshop that is centered about wood. How-ever, many objects made chiefly of wood have some metal parts, and often electrical connections are desired. ... 


1947: Walter  E. Durbahn and J. Ralph Dalzell, Dictionary of Carpentry Terms  CHICAGO: AMERICAN TECHNICAL SOCIETY, 1947

Please note the details about this dictionary in the gray-shaded box below. Deceptively slight in appearance -- including with its wire binding -- this small work packs much information useful to the woodworker as well as the carpenter. Durbahn's bona fides as a promoter of the amateur woodworking movement deserves much greater acknowledgment than he has been given to date.  In  impact,  he compares with Norm Abram. See an extended discussion of Durbahn's impact here. 

  WALTER E. DURBAHN  B.S., M.A., was in 1947, Chairman of Vocational Department, Highland Park High School, Highland Park, Illinois, a  Member of American Vocational Association, and Author of Fundamentals of Carpentry .
J. RALPH DALZELL, B.S., Managing Editor, American Technical Society, is author of How to Plan a House, How to Remodel a House, How to Estimate for the Building Trades, Building Trades Blueprint Reading, and Painting and Decorating.  

THE objective of this book is to provide clearly and simply the exact definitions of words used in the building trade. Words are the means by which men communicate with one another. A traveler in a strange country must learn the language spoken in that country or communicate with the residents by means of an interpreter. Every trade or profession has a vocabulary peculiar to itself. The legal terms used in a courtroom must be learned by all who desire to become practicing lawyers. Like-wise, the man who wishes to become a skilled mechanic or craftsman of any kind must learn the terms peculiar to his chosen field of activity.

Since words are tools by which men convey their ideas and thoughts to others, it is especially important that these tools be used correctly if they are to give effective service. A foreman must be able to convey his ideas to the men who are performing the labor, and the workman must be able to understand the terms used by the foreman. A term used incorrectly may create confusion and result in costly errors.

In order to acquire such a vocabulary as quickly as possible, it is advisable not only for the carpenter, but for everyone engaged in the building trades to have on hand for ready reference a dictionary of terms. To supply the need for such a book this Dictionary of Carpentry Terms has been prepared. In this dictionary the carpentry terminology in common use today has been brought together in one convenient volume.

The wide experience of the compilers has especially fitted them for this task. The terms included in this book have been carefully selected from reliable and authoritative sources. The aim has been to include as many carpentry and woodworking terms as will be necessary to give the building tradesman a working knowledge of the nomenclature of his trade. However, the book should also prove to be of value to draftsmen, contractors, and workmen in related trades.

Acknowledgment is due Miss Pearl Jenison for thorough research work during the process of collecting material and for careful editing of the manuscript.







1947: Van Tassel, Raymond. Woodworking crafts. 1947. Van Nostrand.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1948: Douglass, James H., and Roberts, R. H. Projects in woodwork. 1948 ed. McKnight.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1948: William W Klenke. Furniture book. Manual Arts, 1948.  


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1948: Herman Hjorth. Reproduction of antique furniture. 1948 Milwaukee , Wis. : Bruce Pub. Co. 198 p. : ill.; 28 cm.


1949:  Home workshop annual : 288 pages of projects anyone can build with hand or power tools ; more than 500 pictures, diagrams and working drawings / English Book : 274 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. New York : Popular Science Pub. Co. , 1949


1949: Pelton, B. W. Furniture Making and Cabinet Work: A Handbook. New York : Van Nostrand. This is a remarkable book, chiefly for its comprehensiveness - almost 600 pages -- in disclosing -- from a "cold" beginning - many details, extensively described in simple prose, numerous black and white plans, materials lists, miscellaneous charts -- about what skills, ideas, inspirations, a wannabe woodworker can use to become an accomplished craftsman. Order arrived on alibris 5-19-06. scanned on opd 5-10-06. indexed in 2d supp of index to handicrafts.


1949:  Mario Dal Fabbro, . Modern furniture: its design and constructionNew York , Reinhold, 1949. 158, 16 p. illus. 31 cm.

Link to extended treatment of woodworker's  manuals by Mario Dal Fabbro

1949: Goodger, C. A. Woodwork and Metalwork. (1949) Dryad Press. Manual Arts.

  Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1949: Margon, Lester. Construction of American furniture treasures. New York: Home Craftsman Pub. Corp., 1949.

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950

Notice that the publisher of Margon's book is Home Craftsman. HC is one of the few magazines of the Depression -- the other is Deltagram -- that is almost entirely dedicated to woodworking. Insightfully, in the mid-1930s, HC's editors started publishing Margon's extensive drawings and details of construction of classic museum pieces of American furniture on an almost monthly frequency. I have leafed through all the volumes for the 1930s and the 1940s -- still working on the 1950s an '60s, it died in 1965 -- and  have read the letters from readers, who -- frequently with pictures of furniture they made -- note with great pride the fact that they managed to build a Margon piece. It was in the late 1940s that Wallace "Mr Sawdust" Kunkel met Margon, and became a great fan. In his book, How to Master the Radial Arm Saw , Kunkel shows a Margon drawing (below).  (Kunkel also shows on -- page 218 -- the bombe chest he made that was chosen "International Award of Excellence for Professional Furniture-Makers" - in 1993.)

From page 133 of How to Master the Radial Arm Saw:

Back in the `40s, I was working in Rockefeller Center. A new book came out, called, Construction of Early American Furniture Treasures. Dover Press published it (sic) - and, I'm happy to say, it's still available.
It sent my life off into a beautiful, new direction: Period Furniture. From then on, I was to "live" in museums and relish every little pointer of the methods and designs used by the great master wood-workers. (continued below)


wallace kunkel's lester margon piece 

I learned that Lester had his studio not far from Rockefeller Center - and I made a date with him. I found him in a "sanctuary" of drawings - the product of a lifetime travelling the face of the earth, studying the finest furniture of many cultures.
He would choose nothing but the best and then make superb measured drawings of each one. Every last jointwas drawn and I have yet to find an error in his measurements. I quickly learned that Lester was a deaf-mute. We conversed by writing notes to each other. Until his death, we wrote letters back an forth. He truly "gloried" in somebody who ould bring his drawings to life. Because he had to live and work in a totally quiet world of his own, he could not have chosen a better profession. He had no distractions - and could concentrate all his creativity on a noble purpose.

There are several books under his name. Each one better than the other. Though I prefer the one mentioned.  

Source: Wally Kunkel, How to Master the Radial Arm Saw, page 33

This is a portion of the book's ad  in Home Craftsman, July-August, p 7:  


First Edition off the Press in September

By Lester Margon
Large Page Size Cloth Bound Contains 38 Masterpieces From 23 Museums
AT LAST! The long-awaited collection of Lester Margon's unique drawings will be published in permanent book form!

This special announcement is made in advance of publication to give readers of Home Craftsman Magazine the opportunity to reserve a copy of the First Edition, which Mr. Margon will autograph on request.

Construction of American Furniture Treasures is unlike any other furniture book ever published.

FIRST, it includes only furniture master-piece. each one personally selected by Mr. Margon in his visits to museums and historical shrines.

SECOND, it presents only makable and usable furniture. Every magnificent piece included in this volume can actually be reproduced by the average craftsman; and every piece serves a genuine need in the home of today.

THIRD, it gives the craftsman his first complete set of working drawings, details and instructions for accurate, faithful duplication of famous American treasures.
The new Margon book is a real working manual: its a practical instruction book that shows craftsmen for the first time actually how the hest American cabinetmakers designed and built furniture that lasts through the centuries. For every one of the priceless pieces detailed in this book you will find all the help you need in construction. Every segment, every joint, every operation is clearly illustrated and described.

You'll be amazed how Mr. Margon's simplified, take-apart drawings reveal the hidden structure of chests, tables, chairs, beds, clocks and so many other useful pieces. In this book Mr. Margon will teach you, just as he has taught thousand of others, to build the kind of furniture few people can afford to buy.

American Furniture Treasures is being published at the low introductory price of only $4.95. It contains 38 full-page plates plus hun-dreds of detail drawings and photographs of the original museum pieces. Reserve your copy now before special offer expires. Don't pass up this chance to own a First Edition, auto-graphed copy of American Furniture Treasures. Tear out coupon. MAIL TODAY.



1950: Lammey, W. Clyde . Power Tools and How to Use Them. Popular Mechanics Craftsman's Library

Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1950:  F. H. Gottshall. Making useful things of wood. 1950. Bruce.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950


1950: C. H. Hayward. ed. Staining and polishing. 1950. Evans Bros., London .


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1950

1950: M. J. GunermanHow to Operate Your Power Tools.   Home Craftsman Pub. Corp., 1950. 

router hjorth-gunerman 1949-50

This manual contains articles originally published in
issues of Home Craftsman in  1949 and 1950. In HC, they are, however, under the pen of Herman Hjorth. (Hjorth died in 1951.)

Compare the image above with  the drawing published four years earlier

1950: M. J. Gunerman, ed. Cabinets, bookcases and wall shelves. 1950. Home Craftsman Pub. Corp.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1965


1950: Yates, Raymond F Antique Reproductions For The Home Craftsman, Whittlesey House, 1950.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1965


Painstakingly detailed account of reproducing early-19th-century, furniture pieces, with emphasis upon "primitives",  including techniques for distressing, where the craftsman can give an authenticity to a piece's vintage, by making the piece look well-used.  

Every design given herein is authentic in every respect, the actual measurements having been carefully taken from original pieces known to have come from the quaint shops of early craftsmen.

Yates demonstrates construction techniques using only hand tools, a curious policy for 1950, given that woodworkers, e.g., Wallace Kunkel, were promoting power tools, such as the Dewalt radial arm saw, for home workshops when Yates' book was published. (Yates does admit that you can achieve the same results with more up-to-date tools, but that is a personal choice the craftsman has to make.)

The book's contents includes:  Preface: A Word to the Reader, ch 1 Understanding Wood and Lumber; ch 2 Old Tools and Methods; ch 3 Joints; ch 4 Making It Look Old; ch 5 Speaking of Hardware; ch 6 Old-time Stenciling and Finishing; ch 7 An Early Nineteenth-century Pine Chest; ch 8 Country Chippendale Blanket Chest; ch 9 Old Pine Dressers; ch 10 There's Charm in These Easy-to-make Tables; ch 11 Corner Cupboards; ch 12 Chairmaking; ch 13 Chair Seats: Rush and Splint; ch 14 An Old Pine Clockcase; ch 15 Walls and Backgrounds; and Index.

Ch 1, for example, focuses on woods and wood behavior, where Yates tries

...to capture the mood and manner of the village tinker and to share as far as possible the philosophy and the technique of his unhurried craft. This requires, among other things, a knowledge of raw wood, especially pine, maple, tulipwood, and wild cherry, for these were the most widely used of all the provincial cabinet woods. They were employed in the construction of chests, settles, beds, and tables. Oak, hickory, and ash, too, were used; the latter two especially for chairs..

In Chapter 2, "old tools and methods",very detailed, with illustrations,


... uses [old] tools as examples in describing the various cabinetmaking processes em­ployed by the craftsman of a century or more ago




Illustrated with excellent drawings, including measured drawings of furniture pieces, and many black-and-white photographs of furniture and old tools. (The three images below come from ch 9.) Not heavy on bibliography but does reference a few classics, including Joseph Moxon's 1683 Mechanick Exercises - also this link -- emphasizing the printing trade - but, as Yates shows,  also includes woodcuts of 17th century woodworking tools -- and Henry C. Mercer's 1929 Ancient Carpenter's Tools. (Mercer's book is also available in several other editions, including a Dover reprint.

yates 1yates 2yates 3

The pages of Antique Reproductions For The Home Craftsman reveal Yates personal passion for woodworking. His devotion to the craft is especially exhibited when he explains details about the "warmth of wood", the feel of the hand tools in your hand as you shape workpieces, but most especially when describing the  reconstruction of the primitive pieces using hand tools. Taken together, all features about this book, first,  appeal to me personally - since I have a similar passion for woodworking  -- Yates' enthusiasm is catching -- and second, gives the book itself an appeal that is timeless. In short,  it is an "old" book that will never be old, in the sense it is outdated by technological advances.

1950: Paul V Champion. Creative crate craft. Milwaukee : Bruce Pub. Co. , 1950 110 pages. 


1950: Cramlet, R. C. Woodwork visualized. 1950. Bruce.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1965


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). Bedroom furniture. General, 1950.


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). Dining room furniture. General, 1950.


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). 450 questions/answers on home repairs/workshop methods. General, 1950.


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). Living room furniture. General, 1950.


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). 9 corner cabinets. General, 1950.


1950: Popular Homecraft (periodical). 35 tables of all kinds. General, 1950.


Indexed in Index to Handicrafts, 1965