Craftsman in the News, August 2006
Gary Katz's Craftsman Mantelpiece

book review: Country Furniture

My colleague Derek Martin, a woodworker here in Sacramento, was kind enough to review a copy of Aldren Watson's Country Furniture for Hewn & Hammered. The book is a reprint of the 1957 original edition, and includes all original illustrations.

As an avid hobbyist for the last fifteen or so years, I have spent much of my free time focused on wood working. It came as no surprise to me that I would enjoy reading this book after quickly skimming through it to see some wonderful illustrations that would get my immediate attention and spark my interest in reading it as well.

This book not only examined the materials and techniques that were used by master craftsmen of past centuries, but also addressed even the most subtle changes in wood furniture building up to more recent times. Changes to this art form mentioned by Mr. Watson were mainly brought on by wood supply, reengineered tools, and the evolving change in personal tastes.

As a modern day woodworker with fairly modern day tools I now have a greater appreciation for those who developed and made popular the art of crafting wood. I also have a better understanding of how making hand-crafted pieces from wood started out of necessity and not just for the beauty of it’s finished product. All different types of woods from all different places on the map were used initially for their hardness, longevity, availability and then their beauty.

The illustrations in this book alone are worth picking it up for, but just wait until you see and read about joinery that could help you in your next project. I have already experimented with some techniques that I learned in the book and I was fully satisfied with the result.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in woodworking or even collecting antique furniture. I will end by saying that this book was loaded with information and the illustrations were the icing on the cake to say the least.