A blog entry last week brought a question from a reader about what woodworking books were on my bookshelf. An interesting question to ask a woodworking books editor. We’ve run pieces in the past discussing the staff’s “favorite” woodworking books, but that’s not what this reader was asking. He wanted to know what was on my shelf. Whether or not he saw the distinction between the two ideas, I did, and it made me check my bookshelf.
To be perfectly honest, the “shelf” in my office is three good-sized bookcases. No, I’m not going to list all the books that are there. And yes, as one reader has already noticed, these aren’t the shelves I’d build for myself…company issued. One entire bookcase is filled with copies of the books published by Popular Woodworking over the past 15 years or so. Some are there because they’ve recently been published, while others are used as reference to what has been popular (or a real turkey).
One other bookcase has a couple of shelves filled with books from other publishers of woodworking titles. It’s always good to know what your competition is doing. Some of these titles include: The Toolbox Book, by Jim Tolpin (great book); The Encyclopedia of Wood (Sterling), a reprint of a handbook published by the Forest Products Laboratory (a good look at all the ways wood works); Understanding Wood Finishing, by Bob Flexner (still the best book on wood finishing, written by someone I now call a friend); The entire Workshop Companion Series, by Nick Engler (now out of print); and a number of Taunton’s “best of” titles. A great look at many of their best projects.
Then there’s a smaller, two-shelf bookcase that has my personal reference books, and just books I like: Judith Miller’s Furniture; A dozen books on Arts & Crafts (Arts & Crafts Furniture by Kevin Rodel and Jonathan Binzen; The Gustav Stickley Photo Archives, edited by Douglas Congdon-Martin, and Greene & Greene, The Blacker House by Randell Makinson); Built for the Ages by Bruce E. Johnson (also now a friend, and the author of the upcoming Popular Woodworking book, Arts & Crafts Furniture of the Grove Park Inn); The Furniture of Sam Maloof, by Jeremy Adamson; The Shaker Legacy by Christian Becksvoort; and Thomas Moser’s Measured Shop Drawings (both landmark books, in my opinion).
Then there are a few of the more traditional reference books including: Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton; The Encyclopedia of Furniture by Joseph Aronson; The Encyclopedia of Furniture Making by Ernest Joyce and Cabinetmaking and Millwork by John L. Feirer.
So what does all this mean? Well, certainly woodworking is a passion as well as a job. You don’t collect a bunch of out-of-print woodworking titles for the heck of it. It also says I’m pretty messy (yes, there are piles of books on the floor as well), and I like Arts & Crafts furniture. But ultimately what it says is that, yes, I do enjoy having the printed word around. Both for reference, and for pleasure.
In talking with the rest of the Popular Woodworking staff about this topic, we decided you (the readers) may be interested in seeing what our contributors (Frank Klausz, Mike Dunbar, Marc Spagnuolo and Adam Cherubini, to name a few) have in their woodworking libraries. We’ll be reaching out to them next week to get their book lists, and then we’ll share them with you (I’m pretty curious myself!).
– David Thiel, Editor, Popular Woodworking Books
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