Robert Lang, Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture: Review
by J. Norman Reid
Craftsman furniture is a style I've loved and admired all my life. A few examples lived in my childhood home and I grew to love them for their solidity, their earthiness, their simple, clean lines and artful style. And so it was natural for me—before I began woodworking in later life—to furnish my own home with several much-loved Stickley pieces.
Now that I'm building furniture for myself, I eagerly seek inspiration for pieces that can reside in appropriate places in my home. Lang's collection of shop plans is a marvelous resource, whether your intention is to faithfully copy Arts & Crafts original classics or set out on your own to create anew by emulating the style and borrowing details.
The Great Book is an enhanced and expanded collection of plans published in Lang's three previous books on the subject. He opens his treatment with a history of Craftsman furniture and its American makers. From there, he moves on to discuss his drawings and how to interpret them, as well as the materials and hardware used in Craftsman furniture. This is followed by a significant section on construction techniques, including joinery, legs, mortises and tenons, doors, drawers, assembly and finishing. This section, though specifically intended to help in building Craftsman furniture, will be nonetheless useful as a basic resource for furniture-making. The introductory portion of the book concludes with a chapter on inlays and a brief section on appropriate hardware.
The meat of this 327-page work is in the shop drawings of 57 pieces of furniture that include plan, elevation, and section views, along with drawings of essential details, all brought together in one place from Lang's previous books on the subject. The scope extends to dining room, living room, bedroom, office, den and library furniture. The plans are shop drawings with full dimensions as measured by Lang from original pieces or taken from plans published by the manufacturers. The sections on furniture are followed by an extensive section on inlay patterns and a brief section showing hardware examples.
This is indeed a "great book" that should be considered an essential addition to the library of any woodworker who seeks to understand Craftsman furniture. Whether your intention is to build Craftsman pieces that mirror the originals or to incorporate Craftsman design principles and details in original creations, this collection will be a valuable resource and reference work.
Purchase your own copy of
Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture for 33% off for April 2013!
The author is a woodworker, writer and photographer living in Delaplane, Virginia, in the
foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, four cats and a woodshop full of
power and hand tools.
He can be reached by email at