Monday, April 7, 2008

A woodworking reverence...

A few years ago I took a woodworking class on hand cutting dovetails at the local Woodcraft store. The instructions on cutting the dovetails themselves weren't terrible, but I think the instructor made them much more "technical" than they need to be. Since then I've attended a seminar with Frank Klausz where he demonstrated cutting them with very little marking or laying out beforehand. When you're a furniture maker by trade, time is of the essence, so I can definitely see the advantage to his approach.

In any case, I didn't learn a huge amount about cutting dovetails, but I did learn something else (or about something else) in that class which has increased my woodworking knowledge by leaps and bounds. As we were leaving for the night, the instructor mentioned a new woodworking magazine was just coming out on the shelves and that we might want to check it out. It was appropriately named Woodworking Magazine.

It is an ad-free publication, filled with solid, tested woodworking information from cover to cover, and if you are at all interested in woodworking technique and knowledge, it would be my most highly recommended magazine. The editors are incredibly friendly and they go above and beyond with any question I've ever thrown their way. They also happen to be excellent writers, which I greatly appreciate.

Inside the cover of each issue, the executive editor, Christopher Schwarz, has a small section called, "Highly Recommended." Can you guess what kind of information he offers us? In the first issue, Spring of 2004, his Highly Recommended item is a book called "Reverence for Wood," by Eric Sloane.

I followed his advice and checked the book out at my local library. It was a great read; a much more creative book than many of the dry, horse-pill-like volumes on woodworking techniques I've tried to choke down. I immediately knew it was a book I wanted for my small-but-growing woodworking library.

But I'm not always one to jump into something all roly-poly-pell-mell! Sometimes I wait for things to speak to me; I wait for signs! And the other day, while trolling about on eBay, I had one of those moments. For some reason, Eric Sloane's name popped into my head. On a whim, I did a search for his name and came up with several listings. One of them was the book, "Reverence for Wood."

Not only that, but it was a hardbound signed first-edition!

I used to be one bad sniping mo fo on eBay. Lately, however, I've taken a lackadaisical approach to my bids. I'll throw out a bid, that might not even be as much as I'm willing to pay, a few days before the auction ends and just sit back to see if I win. I haven't really found too much to incite my sniping fury of old... until now. This auction called for some special attention, oh yes, indeed.

I won't bore you with drawn-out details of the jittery feeling I get when I'm sniping an auction on eBay. Let me just say my shot was true and, for under $20 shipped, a signed first-edition copy of "Reverence for Wood" is on its way home to join the library of yours truly.

If you're into woodworking and you're into reading great books, this one comes highly recommended. Check with your local library or (they have a newer softbound version for just a few dollars) or, if you're feeling lucky, your closest on-line live auction site.

I would like to take a second to give sincere apologies to y***a, 0***3, l***n, and r***n, the four losing bidders (one of whom even gave a weak attempt at a snipe towards the end). Don't feel too badly for your loss; you honestly didn't have a chance.

Oh, and once my book shows up, I'll try to do a bit more of a detailed write-up/review for you. Hmmm... maybe a good book review about once a month wouldn't be a bad idea. I'll have to ponder it.

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