Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 140, April 2017
The Woodworker - The Charles Hayward Years
Volume 4 - Shop & Furniture

Book Review by J. Norman Reid

If you've been following this series of books , published by the redoubtable Lost Art Press , you already know much of what to expect in this, the final volume in the set. As with the previous books, Volume IV is a collection of articles drawn from the pages of the British magazine The Woodworker during the nearly three decades Charles H. Hayward was its editor. Because the many articles and essays are taken from individual issues spanning that period and grouped by topic rather than chronologically, there is inevitable overlap in content and occasionally even contradiction as perspectives shifted over time. But always, the incisive articles are as informative as they are interesting. They are replete with clear illustrations, many hand drawn, that make doubly certain their meaning is understood and that projects can be replicated in the home shop.

As Christopher Schwarz, the series editor, explains in his Foreword, this volume more than the others reflects its British roots in the workshop projects, furniture styles and the practices it describes. This is evident starting with the beginning section, which contains many articles on workbenches and workholding . Here are presented plans for sturdy benches for hand tool woodworking, which predominated in the early years of Hayward's editorship, and lighter benches for woodworkers whose requirements are more modest. Benches with cabinets for storing tools, a cabinet bench for use in a kitchen workshop and a German style bench with a tail vise and a row of square dog holes round out the section.

An informative article on things that can go wrong with workbenches offers guidance on how to fix them. Robert Wearing's two articles on the workbench and its equipment, intended to help teachers of apprentices, are as interesting a look into British educational practices as they are full of good information for modern-day woodworkers. A sequence of articles focuses on bench vises , holdfasts and methods for holding wood while working it.

The second major section is focused on tool chests and tool storage. A variety of tool chests are presented, with sufficiently detailed plans for a woodworker to build his or her own to dimensions of their choosing. One of the more interesting designs is for a chest that does double and triple duty as a stool, sawbench and shooting board. A pair of articles address tool cases; others describe full-sized wall cabinets for hand tools, and one intended for the woodworker whose shop surface is the kitchen table. A final article illustrates alternative ways to hang hand tools in tool cabinets.

Appliances come next. A hand tool woodshop needs a bench hook and the first article illustrates one that incorporates a wedge vise on its face. Shooting boards receive considerable attention, and several plans are presented for boards that square up right angle cuts, miters and angled edges of boards. One model uses a sliding panel to hold the plane, so that the panel slides in grooves, rather than the plane along a recess.

Another plan is for a combined normal, miter and donkey's ear shooting board. An adjustable shooting board that can be set at any angle is illustrated. Miter blocks such as would be used to trim mouldings are presented, including what is in effect a shop- made miter saw. Other appliances are a device to hold work when rabbeting or grooving it and jigs to aid in cutting stock by hand to uniform length, among others.

A major section is devoted to English furniture styles. The principal characteristics of English furniture elements from the late Renaissance through the early part of the 19th century are reviewed. Detailed drawings show samples of furniture in the rooms that would have housed them, along with furniture details from each period. Attention is then given to the styles of furniture pieces from the major stylistic periods: tables, chests, desks, sideboards, chairs, bedsteads and book cases. Mouldings receive attention as well, and cross-sectional profiles of various patterns are shown. Chairs receive extra consideration, as do doors, panels and, to a lesser extent, boxes. Project drawings of individual furniture projects follow. Among the many presented are tripod tables, gate-leg tables, Pembroke tables, writing tables, card tables, sideboards and cupboards, book cases, chests, chairs and mirrors. Special attention is given to methods for attaching backs to cabinets and to doors.

Details are treated in the next section. This includes metal fittings, hinges, locks and ball catches. The many articles in this section explain the variety of hinge types, how they work and how to fit them in the applications for which they are intended.

The final section, "Odds and Sods," is a series of Hayward's reflections on his 40 years as a woodworker. These essays are as entertaining as they are informative. One learns about the foibles of his sometimes odd shopmates, his trials during his formative years as a woodworker, and such useful information as the novice apprentice's first woodworking appliance—a beer carrier, which is nothing more than a long rod with spaced nails to keep the handles of the beer tins separated as the apprentice carries them from the pub back to the shop. Civilized practice, that.

Thus completes this impressive set of woodworking instruction, advice and lore from the country that has informed American woodworking more than any other. This volume, like its predecessors, is beautifully cloth bound in a rich green and tastefully adorned in contrasting silver with the image of a woodworker using a chisel. The full-size pages are sewn to the binding, ensuring that the book will remain bound even after frequent and heavy consultation; they are printed on good quality paper, so you can expect this book to last into succeeding generations as it deserves to do. As with all Lost Art Press books, this one was printed and bound in the USA.

I must admit that I found the section on furniture styles the most interesting part of the book, and in some ways also the most surprising. It was interesting because the styles in English usage correspond more tightly with the reigns of the monarchs for whom they are often named. In American practice, the designations are much looser and the styles such as Chippendale themselves are differently interpreted. Of course, there is no reference whatsoever to styles so familiar to North Americans—Craftsman, Shaker, Greene & Greene. But a major surprise was the complete absence of references to the British Arts & Crafts movement of the 19th century, a pair of quotations from John Ruskin and a reference to William Morris aside. Rather, the discussion of styles shifts abruptly from Sheraton to something blandly called "modern," which itself receives scant treatment.

Despite that minor complaint, no fault of the editors, I think woodworkers at all levels will find this volume interesting and informative. It's illustrative. It's entertaining. And especially if you already have the previous volumes, it's a keeper. As I have with the first three volumes in this set, I give it a solid recommendation.

Find out more and purchase The Woodworker - Volume 4 - Shop & Furniture

J. Norman Reid is a woodworker, writer, and woodworking instructor living in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and four cats who think they are cabinetmaker's assistants. He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes . He can be reached by email at nreid@fcc.net .

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