(Wood)Work it Off!

The most contentious presidential campaign in recent memory has come to an end, but the stress it has caused is likely to remain. As I was listening to an episode of the Dinner Party Download podcast with actor and woodworker Nick Offerman –  star of Parks and Recreation and author of Good Clean Fun – I realized that woodworking might just be the outlet we need to put that stress to good use. If you’re looking for a craft that is challenging yet contemplative, then look no further than these new books.

For the beginner, check out The Minimalist Woodworker – it’s ideal for the city dweller who has a few tools and a small space to work in. Step-by-step instructions for seven projects (including a bench and a cabinet) make this a great primer for the newbie. Or, consider Hybrid Woodworkingwhich incorporates some power tools and provides a gentler introduction to the woodworking arts.

If you’ve got some skills and are looking for a challenge, venture forth with some books about specific woodworking projects. Make beautiful vases, cutlery, lampshades, puzzles and so much more with Wood for Woodturners, All New Turning Projects with Richard Raffan and Woodturning MagicLooking for something even more specific? Look no further that the Whittling Handbook, where you can carve elaborate figurines and other items; Swedish Carving Techniques, considered “the bible of spoon carvers”; and the Stickmaking Handbook for beautiful walking stick and crooks (and the perfect gift for the shepherd in your life).

Let’s say you appreciate wood more than you want to work with wood (I must admit I’m firmly in this camp). Well, we’ve got plenty for the armchair woodworker. Start with The Field Guide to Identifying Woods in American Antiques & Collectibles for a discussion of the most common woods you’ll come across in American antiques, along with a “macroscopic” view of each wood that shows its unique characteristics in fine detail. Then embark on a journey with Architecture in Wood: A World History for beautiful pictures and the stories behind impressive wood structures around the world. Then you’ll be ready to settle down with Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way for the most soothing pictures of stacked wood you’ll ever see.

Feel like you need some inspiration? Be sure to check out The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees by Robert Penn, who used ancient woodworking techniques to make an axe handle, a wagon wheel, a bow and arrow and a toboggan, among other items, using the wood from a single ash tree.

~posted by Frank


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