Books from Magazines & More

In today’s glimpse at the Covington Mechanical Library (CML), let’s have a look at some books compiled from magazine articles and by magazine authors, an old “must have,” woodworking humor and the first of our fiction books.

I remember seeing a few volumes from the Fine Woodworking Techniques series (above on the left) on the hard-to-reach shelves in my grandfather’s tiny workshop, tucked behind his Shopsmith Mark V. The series began in 1978, with articles pulled from the first seven issues of Fine Woodworking magazine, and ran through 1987’s Volume 9, featuring articles from issues 50-55. Tucked in among them is Fine Woodworking magazine’s 1970 “Design Book Two,” which, according to the cover features “1,150 photographs of the best work in wood by 1,000 craftsmen.”

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I ought to swap the positions of Michael Pekovich’s “The Why & How of Woodworking” (Taunton, 2018) and Glen Huey’s “Building Fine Furniture” (Popular Woodworking, 2003) – and move Garrett Hack’s “The Handplane Book” (Taunton, 1997), Dennis Zongker’s “Wooden Boxes (Taunton 2013) and Thomas J. MacDonald’s “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac” (Taunton, 2011) to the far left. Oh – and move John L. Feirer’s “Furniture & Cabinet Making” (Scribner’s, 1983 – a must-have at one time, but now perhaps a bit musty in its technique instruction…but not so old-school as to qualify as a classic) to the far right. That would pull together all the Fine Woodworking Magazine-related titles, and collect the Popular Woodworking Magazine-related books in a row (well – all the ones on this shelf, anyway).

The following, until otherwise noted, are from Popular Woodworking – and we have them because – as you may know – Chris and I both spent some time on that magazine’s staff. As noted above, we start with Huey’s “Building Fine Furniture,” followed by his “Building 18th-century American Furniture” (2009) and “Fine Furniture for a Lifetime” (2002). (If you want to know what Huey is up to these days, click here.)

Then we have Jeff Miller’s “The Foundations of Better Woodworking” (2012), Jim Tolpin’s “The New Traditional Woodworker” (2011), and a reprint of two vintage books in one volume: “The Art of Mitring” and “Carpentry and Joinery for Amateurs” – and gosh does that one simultaneously raise my hackles and sadden me. (The short story: It was supposed to be a Smythe-sewn binding with a cloth cover, such as Lost Art Press produces. When it came in, the cover was “cloth-like” and the binding was glued. Someone above me at PW’s parent company had decided, without even the courtesy of telling me, to “save money.” I’m still mad as heck about it. But I digress…)

I’ve already mentioned Feirer, so we’ll skip to Tolpin’s “Table Saw Magic” (1999) – a long-time woodworking hot seller (and a title that, in light of his current work in hand tools and artisan geometry, never fails to surprise me anew when I see it.) And I see now a Sterling book that needs to move to the far right: “Great Folk Instruments to Make & Play” by Dennis Waring (1999) – I’m not sure why we have that one; perhaps Chris went through an instrument-making phase that I don’t know about?

It’s back to Popular Woodworking books with “Build Your Own Contemporary Furniture” (2002) – a title lead-in that I’ve always found a bit silly…as if you might otherwise inadvertently build your neighbor’s contemporary furniture. Alongside those now-not-contemporary designs, we have “Building Beautiful Boxes With Your Band Saw” (2015) by Lois Keener Ventura – and with one book between is her “Sculpted Band Saw Boxes” (2008) – I’ll have to put those together on Monday.

Separating Ventura’s Books is another not-PW book, “Nomadic Furniture 2” by James Hennessey and Victor Papenak (moving that to the right, too!). It’s a 1974 delight from Pantheon Books, featuring hand-drawn plans for simple furniture made from inexpensive and recycled materials – stuff that folds flat or breaks down for easy moving. Then we have “Mid-century Modern Furniture” by Michael Crow (PW 2015) followed by “Nick Engler’s Woodworking Wisdom” (Rodale, 1999). Though it’s not published by PW, I feel it’s in the right place; Engler wrote for PW for years.

Tom Fidgen’s “Made by Hand” (PW 2009) is next; I liked his clever traveling toolbox therein. And for some reason, we then have a second copy of Tolpin’s “New Traditional Woodworker” (it might make its way to the blems/used shelf – it’s a good book, but we don’t need two copies). Then I’ll ignore the interloper in favor of “Building Traditional Country Furniture” (2001), which was compiled from PW.

And that completes – until we get to the fiction title – the PW books in this bay. That “interloper” above is Rick Mastelli and John Kelsey’s “Tradition in Contemporary Furniture” from the Furniture Society (2001). We also have our friend Vic Tesolin’s “The Minimalist Woodworker” (Spring House Press, 2015) and “Projects from The Minimalist Woodworker” (Blue Hills Press, 2021). Those are followed by a Sterling edition (2000) of David Finck’s “Making & Mastering Wood Planes” (we offer the revised edition).

At the end of the non-fiction section is Nick Offerman’s delightful “Good Clean Fun” (Dutton, 2016) – a book that I think likely got more formerly non-woodworkers interested in the craft than any other, because of Offerman’s massive fan base. And it’s a hilarious read (seriously – I’ve never laughed so much while reading a woodworking book – highly recommended).

And finally, that fiction title: Sal Maccarone’s “How to Make $40,000 a Year with Your Woodworking” (PW 1998). In today’s dollar’s, that title would be “How to Make $73,000 a Year with Your Woodworking.” More hilarity!


p.s. This is the seventh post in the Covington Mechanical Library tour. To see the earlier ones, click on “Categories” on the right rail, and drop down to “Mechanical Library.” Or click here.


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