the next batch of JA’s books; TOOLS




I sorted out some books specifically about woodworking tools. Most are inscribed with John Alexander’s name on the inside. Rarely are there notes written in them. sometime might have slips of paper in them, noting something JA wanted to come back to. All prices include shipping in US. Leave a comment if you want one. I’ll send paypal invoices tonight.


SOLD   W.L. Goodman, The History of Woodworking Tools, hardcover. JA & I used this book a lot; mine’s a photocopy – used to belong to Benno Forman, but this is JA’s hardcover copy.



SOLD   Paul Kebabian, American Woodworking Tools hardcover, signed.



SOLD   R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Tools. Hardcover, used. There was a later paperback edition by Taunton Press, but this is the 1975 English edition. A JA favorite – that’s why it’s used.



SOLD   Instruments of Change: New Hampshire Hand Tools and their makers, 1800-1900, softcover. Good condition, but a glued binding.




SOLD  Henry Mercer, Ancient Carpenters’ Tools

Anyone interested in hand-tool woodworking that doesn’t have Mercer’s book is missing out. There’s a modern paperback edition. This is a 1960 hardcover edition.



SOLD   John Whalen, The Wooden Plane, Astragal Press, hardcover, excellent condition.



SOLD  John Whalen, Making Traditional Wooden Planes -softcover. Just what it says. I made planes with the help of this book.



SOLD  The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton, 1st edition. Too weird to go into, but this first edition is listed as more valuable than the expanded 2nd edition. Nonsense, I say. It’s nice, but the 2nd edition is better. Don’t buy it & re-sell it though, I’ll be mad.



SOLD   Josef Greber, Die Gschichte des Hobels (The History of the Woodworking Plane)

This was an EAIA reprint. The hardcover book is in German, with all the illustrations. The translation is the softcover companion volume. So you read two books at once to know what’s going on, unless you read German.




SOLD   Kenneth Roberts, Some 19th Century English Woodworking Tools. inscribed by the author to JA. hardcover, excellent condition




SOLD   Tools and Technologies: America’s Wooden Age, softcover. New one to me, look at the table of contents – some old friends in there.




SOLD  Early Tools of New Jersey and the Men Who Made Them.

Just what it says. Hardcover








Summer/fall reading; new pile of books


It’s been a summer of inspiration for me in many ways. One way is books. So much book inspiration that I’m building a new bookcase. Just have to see where I can fit it. Here’s a few titles I’m rummaging around in these days.

First up, a gift. Thanks, Jögge.



It’s  Jögge Sundqvist’s book Slöjda I Trä  (something like “Handicrafts made in wood”) – the publisher is Natur & Kultur, Stockholm. It’s a revised edition of an earlier book of the same title. More projects, more text. Nice clear drawings and diagrams, great photos and COLOR! As you expect from Jögge… it’s in Swedish.

Another revised edition that just arrived here this week is Victor Chinnery’s Oak Furniture: The British Tradition.

bigger & better


One of the great thrills of my joinery career was getting to know Vic. His book originally came out in 1979, and stayed in print for eons. But since Vic’s death, his wife Jan has been working on revising it for a new edition, and they’ve taken a great book and made it better. When Jan wrote to me asking for help contacting American museums for photos, I thought it was mostly to just add more color. But the new edition is way more than that, there’s better photos all around, lots of color added, it’s true. But many new figures. The old photo numbering system is still there. Each photo is numbered according to the chapter it’s in, thus fig. 3:210. When Jan and the editors have added new items, they get a small letter after the figure number, thus there is a fig. 3:210a, where there wasn’t before.

Most of the pictures are bigger, thank-you very much. The book is bigger, which helps. In an age where it seems like everyone but me is running around looking at things on small screens, it’s nice to have some images get bigger rather than smaller. If you are serious about oak furniture, then you’ll want to get this new edition. I’m glad I did…it’s well worth it. (and yes, the cover of Oak Furniture is still a walnut chair. Nice one, Vic).

I had mentioned some time ago about Lost Art Press’ new edition of Ants Viires’ Woodworking in Estonia. (I just now realized that’s 3 revised books in a row…weird) 



I wrote a short intro to it, just some notes about my exposure to the original English edition. Now we get better, clearer illustrations, and a text that is related to what the author wrote. And you can buy it easily, whereas the 1969 edition was like hen’s teeth. Suzanne Ellison wrote a nice history of the book, and how it got to be translated and published by the US government back in the 1960s. If you’re not familiar with the book, the author travelled his native countryside in the 1950s and 60s, recording in photographs, drawings and notes the woodworking practices in the countryside, which he reckoned were soon to disappear. Much of the work presented relates to agricultural work; but lots of it is things for the home – cooperage, boxes, some spoons, some furniture. What always strikes me is the familiarity with the material these craftsmen had. A must-have for green woodworkers…

In some ways, this next book is similar, in that it’s about knowing the properties of trees.



This one, however, is new, and written by woodworkers, it is the Swedish book Slöjden börjar i skogen – The title roughly translates to “Craft begins in the Woods.” How to use what sort of tree where, what sort of growth – straight, crooked, hard wood vs soft. I bought mine at Sätergläntan’s great craft store, an amazingly inspiring place. I have just started to work out some of the text via Google translate. It’s enough to get the gist of it. (here’s the link to Sätergläntan’s store; it’s available elsewhere, but I know nothing about who ships where… )

At the same time, I bought a book about turned vessels in Sweden Vackert svarvat-skönt målat. Folkkonst ur skålaknallens fässing under tre sekler.



I had seen this one on Jarrod Stone Dahl’s blog, after one of his earlier trips to Sweden. I haven’t turned a bowl in 2 years, but hope to get to it again before too long. This book was one of those things where I thought, I’m not going to see this again, so better get it now. Might need it later.

Continuing the Swedish theme, when I got home, I was searching used books for one on Swedish vernacular furniture. I didn’t find one yet, but I did find Swedish Folk Art: All Tradition is Change.



(edited by Barbara Klein and Mats Widbom, published by Harry Abrams, 1994) It’s an exhibition catalog of sorts. Lots of great painted interiors for one thing, and there is a good deal of furniture and other decorative arts in it. It’s a very nice book. Makes me want to decorate everything in sight.

I also got the Lost Art Press edition of Charles Hayward’s articles titled The Woodworker: the Charles Hayward Years. I got both volumes, seems silly to scrimp on this sort of reference material. Lots of depth to the ideas, there’s both fundamental and advanced information in there. With this much content, every woodworker is going to come across stuff they don’t agree with, but there’s still many good concepts. (For instance, I hate the way 20th-century woodworkers scribble all over their stock with pencils – all those stupid wiggly lines. Ugh.) All in all well worth having, it gets the usual Lost Art Press treatment, nice production.  


One last woodworking book, a gift from our friend Masashi Kutsuwa.


It’s about a chair he’s been studying in Japan, based on a Vincent Van Gogh painting; hence the nickname “Van Gogh chair”. Masashi’s facebook page has some details about the project, starting with Tatsuaki Kuroda’s 1967 trip to Spain to see these chairs being made…this link includes a short film of one of the Spanish chairmakers.

The book traces the introduction of this chair, via imports, into Japan; all the way to Masashi and students making them now in Japan.

And while I was in Sweden, I got 2 books on birds there – I used this one a lot; and I didn’t see the woodpeckers shown below, but I was ready for them…it’s a very good bird book. One thing, the maps are large enough to see…




The next one was pure indulgence. I have a couple other Lars Jonsson books; they’re bird books and art books. I like both.



a few leftover bits & a question

Here’s a few things I’ve been meaning to put in a blog post, but with one thing or another I haven’t.

copying pencil

Pencils – I hate them for furniture work, although I have softened and let students use them in laying out carvings. I usually use chalk, easier to remove. But for spoons and hewn bowls, I like to draw the shapes I’m after. These drawings get continually cut away and redrawn, as the design is refined during the process. But regular pencils mostly don’t work well on green wood. Alexander to the rescue once again. For years, Jennie Alexander used to use the Eberhard Faber NOBLOT Bottle of Ink in a Pencil, #705, (or is it #740?) It worked wonders writing on green wood. Just don’t ever forget it in your pocket during the laundry. When it hits the green wood, the line turns a strong blue that you can see easily. But the pencil is no longer made…and while researching this post, I saw one offered on the French Ebay site for $25. Pretty stupid, and there’s no way I’m going to get in competition with pencil collectors. There’s a whole pencil culture out there.  They treat the NOBLOT like it’s a Nic Westermann hook knife or something. Maybe they look at us & think, “there’s a whole wood culture out there…”

About two years ago, I found some online from a boatshop in the Northwestern US. These were Brevillier Urban copying pencils #1925. Made in Austria. They work great, and I’m down to my last few…if you’ve been in one of my spoon or bowl classes, you know I guard them carefully…

So I thought I’d order another dozen tonight while I wrote this post. Ha. Not so easy. I can’t remember the name of the shop where I bought them, and found nothing much on the web about them. Did find some Russian site that has them…at least I think it was Russian. I opted instead, after much fumbling around to try a new one, from


Chairmaker's Notebook

Pete Galbert’s book, Chairmaker’s Notebook. Since I got it, I’ve been proclaiming my hatred for Pete Galbert. His book is so damn good that it makes it harder for those of us who have woodworking books in the works. I really mean it when I say this book is unbelievably good. Everything about it is just exactly perfect. Even if you’re not going to build a Windsor chair, if you work green wood, or want to, buy this book. It’s worth it for the chapter on splitting & riving if nothing else. Pete’s drawings and text are thorough and clear and keep you turning the pages to get more details and information. It makes me want to make a chair…but I’m behind enough as it is. Maybe 2016…congratulations to Pete and all the others at Lost Art Press on this one.  (Oh, and for all that disclosure crap – yes, I’ve written a book for LAP, and am working on another. I know the principals involved, we’re all in the same circus…so what? Get the book, and tell me I’m wrong, that it’s no good. You’d be in a tiny minority.)

hurdle maker

Next month, Rick McKee & I are repeating our riving class with Plymouth CRAFT, October 10th & 11th.

Only this time the students will apply their learning to make a section of portable fencing often called “hurdles” – I have threatened to make one for to photograph, so we could show you what the heck we’re dealing with…but as indicated already twice recently in print, I’m behind on other stuff. And a week away from another trip to Maine. So I borrowed a photo from J. Geraint Jenkins’ Traditional Country Craftsmen, a book on English crafts…

They come in all sorts of configurations, some more folksy than others. we’ll have fun with them, as students get to tackle riving, shaving at a shaving horse, hatchet work, mortising, and more…..tweed jackets & ties are optional.

Back on the subject of books, one of the students in my class in Somerset brought a small book to class, all about English boxes. A Discourse on Boxes of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, by Anthony Conybeare. 

box book page

I knew I had seen it before, but had never bought my own copy. As we browsed it, I thought, I really should get this book. The text is just what it is, I won’t go into any details, which would be nitpicking. The photos are excellent, and in many cases, very detailed. Once I got home, I forgot about it, then I was looking through my bookshelf near my workbench, and lo & behold – there’s Conybeare’s book. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember buying it. But I thought I remembered an email about it, and sure enough, Kent Ryan, a reader of the blog, sent me a copy back in late 2013. If you’re still there, thanks, Kent.

NOW, a real can of worms. I’ve never yet made it to Spoonfest over in the UK. Came close this year, but maybe another time. If Plymouth CRAFT were to sponsor/host a spoon & related festival type thing in the Northeast, what would folks like to see & do there? We’re looking at a great site in southeastern Massachusetts, ponds, woods, cabins – meals included…and room for 100 or more attendees. Roofed pavilions, so out of any nasty weather. Looking at 2 1/2 – 3 days, like Woodstock. Without the brown acid & mud. This time of year. No promises, but just wondering if we were to go ahead, would spoons alone make it fly? We’d have no real facility for bench woodworking, but the portable bits like spoons have great appeal. So what do you think? Seems like the eastern US could support it, the closest thing I know of is the Spoon Gathering in Milan, MN. A longgg ways from here. Leave comments if you have any. we’ll keep you posted.