Just about every week, someone asks Chris, “How can I get started in working with hand tools?” Sure, there’s a lot of information on the Internet…¦not to mention in our magazine, in other magazines and books, and on this blog and others. But it can be difficult to sort through the scads of information (some of it contradictory) and pick out what you need. That’s why we’re particularly pleased that we are reprinting a classic but little-known book: “Exercises in Wood-Working,” by Ivin Sickels.
First published in 1889 and written to educate college students in the woodworking craft and business, “Exercises in Wood-Working” is an excellent introduction to period hand tools , most of which are still used today. After a fascinating chapter on wood, wood pests and the process of milling lumber, the book teaches you the most essential woodworking operations , how hand tools and wood interact , and takes you through all the basic skills you need to build furniture. It is well-organized, beautifully illustrated and easy to digest.
So now Chris has a simple answer for the question: Get “Exercises in Wood-Working,” do the 39 exercises and practice. Then practice some more. The book is available now for pre-orders; it’s expected to ship at the end of August, and until then, is 20 percent off the retail price of $17.99.
Chris has also recorded a series of short video lessons (about 12-15 minutes each) to accompany the book’s exercises, and we’re presenting three of them right now as “enhanced PDF” downloads. What that means is, we’ve embedded the video with the text in one document, so you can read the words, study the pictures, then watch while Chris demonstrates how to correctly hold the relevant tool and performs the exercise. Available now are “Use of the Chisel: Part1,” “Use of the Chisel: Part 2” and “Use of the Gouge,” and we’ll have more videos coming soon. (The first eight videos are also being collected on a DVD; it should be ready to ship at the end of August.)
To have a little fun with it, and to pick up on the idea of instruction from the past, we recorded these videos with an old-timey feel (OK , 1950s or so) , it’s the only time I’ve seen Chris in a tie. And he’s wearing it under an apron. I’ll have to don a shirtwaist dress with a big skirt just, and dig out my high-heeled pumps and pearls to fit in (that’s appropriate shop wear, right?).