add to furniture makers’ reading list

Only a little bit of shop time these days. Two five-year olds and Christmas tend to keep someone pretty busy…

Last week when I was at Lie-Nielsen’s Open House, I spent some time with folks I had only met electronically previously; Tico Vogt and Raney Nelson While talking with them, I mentioned the journal American Furniture; which somehow I have nevered discussed in detail here on the blog. then I saw that Adam Cherubini mentioned it in the comments on his recent post about woodworking magazines (not that it’s a woodworking magazine; but Adam wandered a bit… and no, now is not the time for me to discuss Fine Woodworking Magazine)

American Furniture journal

It often seems to me that many woodworkers/furnituremakers either don’t know this journal or they think it’s not for them. It’s sometimes seen as aimed at museum/curator/antiques collectors/dealers – but woodworkers studying furniture made prior to industrial revolution will get a ton of information and inspiration from it.  If you are inclined towards “period” furniture, (whatever that is) it’s a fabulous reference to have. American Furniture comes out once a year, costs somewhere between $45 to $60 (based on what I saw on the web tonight). It’s produced by the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, WI. – first issue was 1993.

 The production is first-rate; high quality work throughout. The photos are mostly the work of Gavin Ashworth, often the pieces are presented in detail, including construction details, decorative aspects, etc. Comparisons between related pieces are frequently shown. There are usually between 5-10 articles in each issue, a number of detailed book reviews and a long bibliography of works on furniture studies.

While some issues are presented on Chipstone’s website,  I always recommend getting the printed version. There are photos that only appear in print, Chipstone doesn’t have permission to post some of it online. It usually comes out in the early winter for the previous year, thus the 2010 issue is about a month or so away. That one has an article I worked on with Bob Trent on Boston chests of drawers. Chipstone also does the journal Ceramics in America, same execution, just pots, not furniture.

I’ve really cut way back on book buying over the past two years, but there are two that I make sure I get every year, American Furniture is one, the journal Regional Furniture (from England) is the 0ther. I’ll give you the lowdown on that maybe next week.

Now, how about another annual occurence, a photo from me of a heron in the snowy Jones River in December.

this year's December Heron snow picture

7 thoughts on “add to furniture makers’ reading list

  1. This is an outstanding journal. It is everything that Peter describes, but I tend to view it as an academic journal. Many of the contributors are from the academic world, and the articles have extensive citations. The research is first-rate.

    I picked up most of the back issues at about $35 apiece. The first year, 1993, is the hardest to find and by far the most expensive.

    it’s all great reading.

  2. You can find the contents of American Furniture on the publisher Chipstone’s website. Not only are the contents of the individual issues there, but the text of many articles as well. They do not have any of the thousands of pictures that accompany the articles, however.

    You can find the publication homepage at

  3. Oh, now I get it – I thought Andrew was commenting on the Regional Furniture journal. That’s what I get for essentially writing about 2 things at once.

    John, thanks for clearing that up. One more comment though – many of the images are there. You have to click the arrows below the first image. Some have no permissions for posting online, others do. When there is an image, you can click it to enlarge.

  4. Peter, you gave high praise to Regional Furniture, which prompted me finally to join. But what are your thoughts on the other British journal, “Furniture History?”

    • John: I don’t subscribe to Furniture History; but I have a couple of back issues here & there that concern stuff related to my studies. It’s a first-rate journal, just usually about very high-style furniture.

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