The new, combined edition of “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” is getting closer to being a real book. My editor sent me an image of the cover, along with a PDF file of the 328 pages that will go inside. My task now is to go over it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure I didn’t say anything stupid or offensive, that the drawings make sense, and the numbers are right. This is a combination of three of my earlier books, “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture”, “More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” and “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays & Hardware”.
This compilation is more like what I had in mind 11 years ago when the first was published. I tried to include a variety of what I considered to be the best examples of the American Arts & Crafts period of the early 20th century. The type of furniture we have around us says a lot about who we are and what we value, and Craftsman furniture says a lot about integrity, honesty and the beauty to be found in the natural world.
In many ways, this book is a throwback to earlier woodworking texts and different than many books published today. This isn’t “Arts & Crafts Furniture the Quick & Easy Way”, and I don’t pretend to teach everything you need to know about making furniture from solid wood in the first 30 pages. If this style of furniture appeals to you, this is an essential resource to understanding the originals and building your own reproductions.
There is an introductory section where I cover the history of the original designers and makers, and woodworking techniques relevant to the style. Earlier this year, I went through the text, and combined the three introductions into one. Some redundant parts were removed, and the bits and pieces were rearranged. The combined text is a big improvement-part of the introduction to the second book was in response to questions about the first, and some of the best coverage of the period’s history was in the third book, which wasn’t as widely read. I included more images, some of them original illustrations from Stickley’s magazine The Craftsman, some photos of vintage pieces and some of me at work building reproductions.
The best part is the drawings, because that’s where I shut up and 57 pieces of furniture get to talk. Some people write about furniture design and try to convince you that there are magic formulas that will work like fairy dust-sprinkle this or that around and SHAZAM! you’re a great designer.
The real way to learn design is by example. Look at as many pieces as you can, and after a while your brain develops the ability to sift the good from the bad, the real thing from cheap imitations. Good Arts & Crafts period furniture isn’t about putting corbels or spindles or inlays everywhere you can, it’s about proportions and joinery and subtle but surprising details.
The drawings show you in ways that photos can’t how this part relates to that, how the parts come together and what goes on inside. To learn those kinds of lessons, words just get in the way. Craftsman furniture is about the wood, and the wood worker, and bringing out the best in both.
I will be selling signed copies of this book as soon as it is available, some time in the summer of 2012. Sign up for the RSS feed for this site, or subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll be among the first to know.
Limited quantities of the original edition of “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture” are still available.
“Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors” will remain in print for the foreseeable future.