Woodworker's manuals 1981 - 1990

under construction 5-20-08

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, realistically, 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.

    Some Final Notes:

    First, before starting this woodworking history project, I was not aware of the manuals listed below. Since examining them, and writing about them -- and, yes, buying used copies of many -- I have convinced myself that we -- as woodworkers -- are neglecting a vast potential resource. Why? Woodworking -- both an artform and an acquired skill -- continues to build upon a very long historical tradition that traces back as far as man's first appearance on earth. Woodworking, in other words, rests upon a foundation of knowledge and wisdom derived from its past, and -- each in its own way -- the manuals below exhibit qualities of this wisdom.

    Second, these manuals could/should be arranged in reverse chronological order. Why? At the end of the decade, we view some truly significant events: One, under Arthur Wakeling, two 1930 manuals -- The Home Workshop Manual. Things To Make in Your Home Workshop. -- that are foundation stones in the formation of the National Homeworkshop Guild. (For more info on this important manual click here) Two, Delta releases its 3-vol The modern woodworking shop, a vehicle for announcing its new power machinery. In 1926, Charles G Wheeler features a manual which covers power tools -- unusal for that date -- but only a hand full are for the home workshop. Three years later, almost all is changed. The sections on power tools in Wakeling, for example, could have been ripped out of the Tautz and Fruits set.

    Third, several manuals of this decade stand out as contributors to building an amateur woodworking movement: Paul Woolley's two volumes that index 22 + The Boy's Busy Book.


Chronological List of Woodworker's Manuals 1981 to 1990:

1980-1994: Woodworker: projects and techniques. New York, N.Y. : Davis Publications, 1900s- Published bimonthly (every 2 months) between 1980-1994 ISSN: 0197-4149 Brief entry for library of congress: Woodworker (New York, N.Y. : 1980)

1980: Robert B. Russell. Attractive and Easy-To-Build Wood Projects: Plans and Step- -Step Instructions for Furniture and Household Objects. Dover, 1980.

1981: Ronald P. Ouiment. Contemporary Furniture Plans: 114 Projects You Can Build Yourself. Sterling, 1981.

From the PREFACE

Modern furniture is very popular, and this popularity increases with each passing year. In its simple unobtrusive forms, contemporary furniture is having a greater influence on modern Americans' taste and modern American interi ors. The reasons are obvious: both for utility and aesthetic appeal, modern furniture blends well with the needs of today.

It is the author's desire that this book will serve as a practical guide to fine modern furniture as well as a manual for the home-workshop en thusiast or expert craftsman.

For the amateur or the skilled craftsman, there are working drawings accompanied by illus trations of most of the furniture pieces in a room setting. The preceding text includes a special "how to" section on working processes, includ ing joinery, finishing, gluing, and other impor tant aspects of fine cabinetmaking.

The 114 individual projects shown are for various levels of expertise and equipment. Some are suitable for hand tools, some for portable power tools, and some require woodworking machinry. Many of the pieces are relatively simple to make, others are more difficult undertakings that will satisfy the most advanced cabinetmakers.

1981: Peter Stamberg. Build Your Own Furniture. Ballantine Books, 1981.

1981: John Makepeace and Piers Dudgeon, Art of Making Furniture Sterling Pub Co 1981.

1981: Berthold Schmutzhart The Handmade Furniture Book. Prentice-Hall, 1981.

1981: R. J. DeCristoforo Build Your Own Wood Toys, Gifts and Furniture New York : Sterling Pub. Co., 1981.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1981: Ronald P. Ouimet. Contemporary Furniture Plans: 114 Projects You Can Build Yourself. Sterling, 1981.

1982: G. W. Endacott. Fine Furniture Making and Woodworking. Sterling, 1982. Libraries Worldwide: 203

1982: Ronald P Ouimet, Contemporary furniture plans: 114 projects you can build yourself. New York: Sterling ; Poole : Distributed by Blandford, 1982.

1982: Donald R. Brann. Toymaking Children's Furniture Simplified. Easi-Bild Dir Simplified, 1982.

1982: John A. Nelson. Easy to Make Antique Furniture Reproductions: 15 Small Projects. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982; Dover, 1988.

1982: Lynda Graham-Barber. Kit Furniture Book. Granite Impex, 1982.

[dubious inclusion, although experience with kits could convince neophyte to try woodworking.]

1982: Joseph J.Bavaro and Thomas L. Mossman. The Furniture of Gustav Stickley: History, Techniques, and Projects. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1982. 175 pp.; illustrations, bibliography, index.

This manual seems to be the first one dedicated explicitly to the Arts and Crafts styles, an indication of the "second" Arts and Crafts movement. Bavaro and Mossman, design professors at Los Angeles Valley College, give their manual a scholarly bent, including a bibliography of almost thirty entries, with publication dates that range from "turn-of-the century" classics to John Crosby Freeman's The Forgotten Rebel and Robert Judson Clark's 1972 exhibition catalog, The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, two of the books said to have helped usher in the currrent interest in Arts and Crafts. For accounts of the "first" Arts and Crafts movement, click here. Bavaro and Mossman divide their book into five sections: a brief biography of Stickley is followed by something of his "philosophy", a chronicle of his achievements as part of fin-de-siecle American and European furniture and related art developments, an explication of Craftsman materials and methods, and step-by-step procedures, working drawings, and exploded views for nine examples of furniture: mirror, screen, combination bookcase-table, rocker, recliner, settle, dining table, book-case, and clock case. Five of these projects are from the "Home Training in Cabinet-Work" series published in The Craftsman. Part of my enthusiasm for this book is its prescient recognition of Harvey Ellis' designs, but that they do not also mention LaMont Warner's contributions to the impressive body of Stickley pieces is disappointing.

1983: R. J. DeCristoforo. The magic of your radial arm saw New Ringgold, PA : Scharff Associates. 309 p.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1983: Andrew W. Marlow. The Early American Furniture-Maker's Manual. Stein and Day, 1983.

1984: R. J. DeCristoforo, George Emery and Daniels Hand Jackson. Woodworker's guide to basics : woods, construction, glues, fasteners, clamping, finishes New York : Popular Science Books, 1984.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1984: Alfred W.Lees, Prizewinning Plywood Projects. New York : Sterling ; London : Blanford [distributor], 1987, 1984. 372 pages.

Sixty-seven prizewinning plywood projects: From eight years of the Popular science design competition. Opd has plans for laminated adjustable chair.

1984: Aldren A. Watson and Theodora A. Poulos. Furniture Making Plain and Simple. Norton, 1984.

See an extended discussion of Watson's Woodworking manuals here

1984: John A. Nelson. Antique Furniture Reproduction: 15 Advanced Projects. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984.

1985: Author UnknownFurniture in Twenty-Four Hours Paperback, Xs Books (June 1985) List Price: $1.98


See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1985: R. J. DeCristoforo. R.J. De Cristoforo's drill press methods [Albuquerque, NM] : DeCristoforo Video Classroom, 1985

1985: R. J. DeCristoforo. R.J. De Cristoforo's table saw expertise. vol. I : Albuquerque, NM : Dist. by Woodworker's Supply, 1985.

1985: R. J. DeCristoforo. The complete book of stationary power tool techniques. New York : Popular Science Books ; Emmaus, Pa. : Distributed to the trade by Rodale Press, 1985

1985: R. J. DeCristoforo. Toymaking [Albuquerque, NM] : DeCristoforo Video Classroom, 1985

1985: R. J. DeCristoforo. Popular science complete book of power tools. New York : Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; Distributed by Workman Pub., 1998, 1985.

1985: Dona Z. Meilach Creating Modern Furniture: Trends, Techniques, Appreciation. Random House Value Pub, 1985.

1986: Susan Osborn. American Rustic Furniture. Random House, 1986.

1986: Aldren A Watson. Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings, New York: Norton, 1982. 416 pages.

See an extended discussion of Watson's Woodworking manuals here

1986: John A. Nelson. Colonial Classics You Can Build Today: Plans and Drawings for 80 Authentic Projects, All Exact Replicas of Early American Antiques. Stackpole Books, 1986.

1986: Percy W Blandford. 79 Furniture Projects for Every Room. Tab Books, 1986.

1986: Alec Webb. Making Country Furniture. Sterling, 1986.

1986: James Clapper. How to Make Classic American Furniture. Creative Homeowner Press, 1986.

1987: Spaulding, Benjamin W. Self study course for the Shopsmith power tool woodworking system. Tipp City, Ohio : Shopsmith Inc., 1987.

I have yet to obtain a copy of this document.

1987: John Reid From One Sheet of Plywood. New York: Sterling 1987.

1987: Percy W Blandford. 77 One-Weekend Woodworking Projects. Tab Books, 1987.

1987: DeCristoforo, R. J. The complete book of portable power tool techniques. New York : Sterling Pub. Co., 1987, ©1986.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1987: Suzi West and S.P. Bob (Editors). Family Workshop, Inc. How to Make 2x4 Furniture for Indoors and Outdoors. Doubleday, 1987.

1987: Richard A. Lyons. Making Country Furniture. Prentice Hall, 1987.

1987: Scott Landis. The Workbench Book. Taunton, 1987. 247 pp.

See further discussion of this significant account of the woodworker's major "tool".

1988: DeCristoforo, R. J. The table saw book . Blue Ridge Summit, PA : TAB Books, 1988.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1988: Percy Blandford. Designing and Building Colonial and Early American Furniture, With 47 Projects. Tab Books, 1988.

1989: Albert Jackson & David Day Collins Complete Wood Worker's Manual by cover 320 pages.

Claimed as “the most comprehensive illustrated guide to woodworking tools, materials, techniques & constructions ever published.” Includes woods of the world, designing & plans, handtools, power tools, machine tools, woodturning, workshops, joints, bending, veneering, marquetry, carving and finishing. French and English translations. Latest ed. 2005.

1989: R.J. DeCristoforo. The band saw book: with 20 projects. Blue Ridge Summit, PA : TAB Books, 1989.

See an extended discussion of DeCristoforo's Woodworking manuals here

1989: Woodworker magazine (editors). Woodworker's 39 sure-fire projects

262 p. : ill. Blue Ridge Summit, PA : TAB Books, ; ISBN: 0830690514 : 0830693513 (pbk.) Libraries worldwide that own item: 146

1989: American Woodworker. American Woodworker Furniture Projects. St Martins, 1989.

1990: Norman Vandal. Queen Anne Furniture: History, Design and Construction. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1990. 247 pages.

(More to say on this later. But see glossary entry, cabriole leg.)

1990: Percy W Blandford. A Home Full of Furniture: 79 More Furniture Projects for Every Room. Tab Books, 1990.