‘The Practical Woodworker,’ Now Back in Print

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Update: The books are sold out in our store. Both Lee Valley and Tools for Working Wood should soon have limited quantities available (keep your eyes peeled on their web sites). Given the surprisingly quick sell-through (many thanks for that), we may do another small run…but I’m not yet sure. Stay tuned. — Megan

I’ve put my neck on the line with our newest offering – a soup-to-nuts reprint of “The Practical Woodworker” four-volume set edited by Bernard Jones (circa 1915).

There was no question that the material was worth reprinting – because while no one book (or set of books) is truly comprehensive, this one comes pretty close when it comes to covering all things woodworking, particularly hand-tool woodworking (at 1,600+ pages, it should!).

BlogOpenFlatBut I insisted that the quality of the books match the information inside, and that they be printed and produced entirely within the United States. I wanted them to look and feel as much like the original as possible – hardbound with a cloth cover, foil-stamped, a Smythe-sewn binding (not only does that last; it stays open on your bench), striped headbands, acid-free paper (that, by the by, is an improvement over the original) etc. And to produce this new set, we had to cut the pages from my vintage books to get high-quality scans – I wasn’t about to replace my nice-looking set with inexpensively produced copies with a glued binding and paper cover.

It took a lot of discussion and cajoling, but I got it.

Now, I’m delighted to announce that “The Practical Woodworker” four-volume set is available in our store…and I hope you’ll agree the end results are worth it. (If you don’t, I’m in trouble.)

So yes – the books look good and will last more than a lifetime; but it’s what’s inside that truly matters. Jones says it better than can I, so I’ll just quote the beginning of his introductory chapter:

“‘The Practical Woodworker’ is believed to be the most comprehensive and exhaustive book yet published on practical woodworking. And yet it does not attempt to give every detail of every aspect of woodworking, because only a library of books could do that. But it does attempt so to instruct the reader as to make it possible for any person, even for one who has never even seen a plane or driven a nail, to be able from this book alone to make any ordinary piece of woodwork by sound craftsman-like methods. The book assumes scarcely anything on the reader’s part, and it omits nothing essential. It leads the beginner forward, step by step, from simple and elementary tool processes to the construction of difficult and advanced pieces of work. Not only that, for every craftsman, no matter how expert, can learn something from its pages.”

And here’s a link to download a scanned copy of his entire introduction (which I had to produce on the copy machine, because the printer PDFs are so large that I can’t down-sample them enough to serve via our blog):
IntroScanned

Jones was an excellent editor (who is perhaps best-known for his “Freemason’s Guide and Compendium”), but he wasn’t a woodworker. He relied on experts in various fields of woodworking for the information; his job was to make it easy to read and simple to understand. And it is – every topic is heavily illustrated with photographs and line drawings that make it easy to make sense of the words. Below, you’ll find scans of the table of contents for each volume (click on each to make it large enough to read).

Volume 1:

TOC1

Volume 2:

TOC2

Volume 3:
TOC3

Volume 4:

TOC4

We’re offering the “The Practical Woodworker” set for $85 (and note that is available only from us and from select partners; e.g. check with Lee Valley north of the 49th parallel), and we ordered only in limited quantity. I don’t know if we’ll go back to press with these same production specifications. If the sets don’t sell out, we’ll likely offer individual volumes for $25 each – but there’s no guarantee we’ll have those available (and If we do, I may have to buy them myself and store them in my cubicle to stay out of trouble). And if these do sell out, I have excellent evidence that well-made books are worth the extra cost and trouble (assuming the information inside is equally solid). If you agree, please click here to add “The Practical Woodworker” to your woodworking library.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

CatBookPagep.s. If you _are_ going to place an order, please do it through this blog post…I get brownie points. Which I will spend on bourbon. Oh – and at right is my favorite page among the many…I’m sure you can guess why.

53 thoughts on “‘The Practical Woodworker,’ Now Back in Print

  1. sassy0422

    I just ordered a set for my husband’s anniversary gift from toolsforworkingwood.com. Click on the NEW button on the menu. I didn’t find it under the shop then books menu.

  2. Harry

    Hi Megan,
    If you keep your promise you’ll be staggering for a week!
    I will certainly order a set as soon as you can do a second print run.
    You will be shipping to Kenya!
    P L E A S E ! !
    Harry

  3. acornbob

    I hope you do a second printing. Very confusing process. Things weren’t working early on with the website ordering and now it’s all sold out!

  4. W. Stephens

    What a way to run a railroad! You advertise the book set. Then your web site doesn’t function. I sent two e-mails notifying you about the web site problems, but no answer from you. Now, after four days of not being able to order, you tell me they are sold-out. Please don’t ask why didn’t you telephone your order? I am totally deaf.

    At 81 years-old, I wonder how long it will be before a new printing is available?

    Some wonder why American business is in trouble. WOW!

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      W. Stephens,

      Honestly, had I thought it would sell quite so quickly, I’d have suggested we have a larger print run; I’m sorry you weren’t able to place your order – but please do keep an eye on toolsforworkingwood.com and leevalley.com; both ordered copies and should have them available soon for sale.

  5. OceanCruiser13

    I tried to order but they are out of print. does putting it on my wish list put me on a list that will be notified when the next print run is available for purchase?

        1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

          OK – clearly we underestimated, at least by three sets; I’m sorry you weren’t able to place your order – please keep an eye on toolsforworkingwood.com and leevalley.com; both ordered copies and should have them available soon for sale.

      1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

        Well, I’m both sorry and a little pleased (though not, of course, that you didn’t get to order). But both Lee Valley and Tools for Working Wood will have limited quantities available (though I don’t yet see it on their sites, so keep your eyes peeled!).

  6. halecooper@yahoo.com

    Megan,

    You have done a great job on this set of books. I would like to know how this set compares with the woodworking books by Bernard Jones available on amazon.com – “The Practical Woodworker” and “The Complete Woodworker ”

    Also, when you scanned your originals, was the entire page scanned in, or did you scan in the illustrations and retype the text into desktop publishing software? I know that scanning the entire page creates a HUGE pdf file, because each page is a full size graphic.

    Robin HC

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      The information in the two books you mention is excerpted and leaves out about 600 pages from the original. This set includes everything. We scanned the pages themselves and did not reset the text; that would have been cost prohibitive (and time prohibitive), I’m afraid (and yes, that’s why the files are massive). The only changes we made were to add an ISBN # and publisher info in the front.

  7. jasalomon

    This is wonderful news. Back in April, I had inquired over at Lost Art Press about the possibility that they might someday reprint this 4 volume edition, as I have been looking to assemble a set. The edition you’ve developed sounds like it offers tremendous quality and value, and I ordered a set right away. Looking forward to receiving it – thank you!

  8. wood_chippie

    Ordered the set through this blog. I am really excited about this. My grandfather had some of Bernard Jones books. I can’t remember if this was the same title or not. I was only about 5 years old when I saw them. My mother had them in her blanket chest with other memories of her dad. Unfortunately, the house burned down before she was able to pass them onto me. I am really looking forward to seeing the books again, especially in such high quality.

  9. pskvorc

    I’m confused.

    If the following statement – “due to the high production value and associated cost, we PRINTED only a small press run” – is correct, (from an email I received, emphasis mine),

    then why do I see the following statement in the same email?

    “Pre-order your copy now, these things are going fast! ”

    If you’ve already “printED a small press run” then why would I need to “pre-order” a set. What it SOUNDS like is you are “testing the water” with “pre-orders” to see how many to ask your “small press” to ACTUALLY “run”. How could they be “going fast” if I need to “pre-order” a set. “Pre-orders” are “pre” production. This is ESPECIALLY “strange” when you state you have already finished the “small press run”.

    Either the whole “run” is complete – as you state – and there is no need for “pre” orders, OR the run hasn’t been made yet and you are trying to determine how many to ask for in the ACTUAL run. Both cannot be true.

    Paul

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      For the record, I don’t think “pre-order” is a word (see “pre-planning”). One either orders (or plans) or not. But I’m in editorial, not in sales.

      The print production window (from file delivery to proofing to printing to the warehouse) on this type of book is six to seven weeks domestic (three months overseas). Our print order was placed weeks ago, and the books are in or almost in the warehouse (I have copies of which I took pictures, so clearly, they’re printed).

      Marketing uses the term “pre-order” to indicate that an item is not yet available for shipping from our facility. (I would prefer we use the term “order,” and put an estimated shipping date alongside. But I don’t get a say in that.)

  10. McDara

    4 Volumes for less than $100…this is a no brainer. I hope I ordered it the right way to get you your points. Personally I prefer a good Irish, but to each his/her own.

  11. IronArmadillo

    I think it is wonderful this set of woodworking volumes is being made available again. Not everything is machine work. Knowing more about hand working techniques produces a finer project and also gives a better insight to drawing the line between hand and machine work. I also preordered this set.

    But what I’d really like is to get this set in some type of ebook format. You said the volumes were scanned. I use a laptop in my workshop with all my woodworking magazines in machine readable format for searching and reference – along with SketchUp models of my current projects. I don’t really have the space for hard/soft bound books and the e-formats are a great space saver. As my eyes get older it is nice to zoom the page for easier reading. And having this material on my notebook computer is a great way to not feel like you’re wasting your life sitting in yet another doctor’s office waiting room (plus the wife likes it when I don’t drag a bunch of books to bed to read before the lights get turned out…).

    Please consider making this offering also in an e-book format.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Duly noted. The files as they exist right now are simply too large (I couldn’t even down sample a chapter to a small enough size. But I’m sure we could figure it out, with world enough and time…and folks such as yourself asking for it)

      1. John Cashman

        I just ordered through this blog. Thank you for resurrecting this. I know it must have been painful to have your vintage set chopped up. It would be sacrilege, if it weren’t for such a good cause.

        I have a couple of questions. Are there plans to do other reprints such as this? And do you know the publishing date of the originals? My old set sounds the same as yours, but there were no copyright or publishing dates in mine, or any others I have seen.

        Put me down also for a digital copy. I love paper, but there are times when an electronic version has more utility.

        1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

          Thanks John!

          And to answer your question, I really don’t know. I only want to do this with the “right” books…and there’s only so many of them. If I can find other good ones, yes; if I can’t, no. I looked high and low and searched the interwebs incessantly to find a solid publication date, but was ultimately unsuccessful. My best guess is 1915 (ish).

  12. David RandallDavid Randall

    Well done Megan!

    I have an original set, yellowing with age because the paper wasn’t acid free, and these are the books I go back to over and over again. Everyone should have a set of The Practical Woodworker for techniques, joinery, designs and ideas.

    A few years ago a cheap, fall-apart-as-soon-as-you-open-it reprint came out that was missing over half of the original, including the great chapter on workbenches. I recommend getting the complete set, in this durable form.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      thanks! And I’ve not tried that bourbon; I shall look for it (Elmer T. Lee is my current fave in a “reasonable” price range)

  13. archae

    Megan,
    I just placed an order for this set. I was surprised at the very reasonable price given the publishing qualities you championed. I can’t wait to hold this set in my hands.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Thank you – I know you’ll be pleased with them, inside and out. I’m so very eager to see these succeed…I want this look and print specs for all our appropriate titles!

  14. wood_chippie

    Megan,
    Of course it’s obvious why you like this print, ahem, aside from woodworking info. The cat in the center of the carving is the main reason you like this page.

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