Roy Underhill’s 3 Favorite Books
In the June 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine we have a fun article that lists all of the woodworking books that the magazine’s staff consider to be “classics.” It’s a great list, but the best part of the article is that we went to many of our contributors and asked them which books they thought were essential.
Here are the people who gave us their lists of books:
Here are Roy Underhill’s (and don’t bother trying to find “Woodworking in Estonia,” it’s a tough one to get. Good book, though – neener, neener).
“Woodworking in Estonia” by A. Viires (National Technical Information Service). This is our share of the booty from the cultural exchanges of the Cold War years. The Soviets got models of our nuclear subs, and we got one of the best books on folk woodworking ever. Aside from showing how to make everything from wooden wheels to bentwood cheese boxes, this book is also an education in the way Eastern European history gets written. Imagine Eric Sloane dividing early American woodworking into feudal, capitalist and socialist periods!
“The Wheelwright’s Shop” by George Sturt (Cambridge UP). Here is the real deal. At the turn of the 19th century, a guy comes back from college when his father falls ill and can no longer manage the old family wheelwright business alone. He realizes that he has stepped into a vanishing world of “kindly feeling” when the “grain in the wood told secrets to men.” Thanks to Sturt, the old English way with wood is still alive in the pages of this remarkable book.
“With Hammer in Hand” by Charles F. Hummel (UP Virginia). Resurfacing like Brigadoon, the woodworking shop of the Dominy family was sealed up with the tools still on the benches and saws still sharp. Moved to the Winterthur Museum, the workshop is an open portal into village woodworking in early America. Hummel’s book takes it tool by tool, piece by piece, expanding our view with a true scholar/craftsman’s eye.
— Christopher Schwarz