About 30 years ago, I had this idea that there ought to be a book of measured drawings of Arts & Crafts period furniture, focusing on the designs of Gustav Stickley. Gus called his work “Craftsman” furniture, and I think that term is far more appropriate than “Mission” furniture. “Mission” was a term coined by a marketing guy, but “Craftsman” reflects what this style of furniture is all about – well-made, beautifully proportioned, honest and straightforward. It was my favorite style of furniture, and books of measured drawings were my favorite woodworking books.
I think the best way to learn design, or to learn about a particular style of furniture, is by studying good examples, and it seemed to me that somebody would come along and produce a book along the lines of John Kassay’s “The Book of Shaker Furniture,” John Shea’s “Making Authentic Shaker Furniture” or Thomas Moser’s “How to Build Shaker Furniture.” After 20 years of studying, building and making technical drawings, I began to think that maybe that somebody was me, and I wrote “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.”
At the time, I hadn’t thought beyond a single book, but one thing led to another and “More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” was published a year later. As I was wrapping up work on that, my publisher asked if we could throw in some pages about Craftsman-style kitchens. Where it took 20 years to come up with the first book, it took less than 20 minutes to come up with the third. I said there was enough good kitchens, other built-ins and architectural stuff for an entire book, and that Columbia University had many of Stickley’s drawings for those things down in the basement of their architectural library. And so “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors” came to be. The final piece of the puzzle was the inlay designs created by Harvey Ellis, and the patterns for the hand-hammered copper hardware typical of the period. Shortly after signing off on “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays & Hardware” eight years ago, I came to work for Popular Woodworking Magazine.
I’m finishing up my work on a new book that is a compilation of the first, second and fourth books with a working title of “The Complete Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture.” Release date and price are still fuzzy at this point, but this book will be available sometime this summer. If you already have all of these books, I thank you and I’ll understand if you pass this one by. If, on the other hand you only have one, or have an interest in building Arts & Crafts furniture, I’ll think you’ll want to add this new book to your library.
The new book contains all of the furniture drawings of the first two books, as well as all of the inlay and hardware drawings. The introductory text of all three books has been combined, so good information that was once scattered across the three is now nicely organized into chapters on the history of the furniture, the people who made it and how to make reproductions in the modern shop. We’re also adding a lot of new images to the introduction, including photos of vintage pieces, photos and illustrations from period publications, and detailed photos of woodworking techniques.
You’ll see more information here on the Popular Woodworking Magazine editor’s blog about this book in the weeks to come, as well as some other Arts & Crafts projects we have cooking, and it will be available at our store shopwoodworking.com.
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