Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Before I had ever made my first chair, I looked to this book as a compass to help guide and inspire me. I first saw it on the shelf of a 1740's bed and breakfast that Sue and I used to visit outside of New Paltz, NY. We later got married in the living room of the B &B and I designed my house to approximate its warmth. I loved sitting in front of a fire, reading about how beams were hewn and then looking up to see the telltale chop marks on the beams overhead. A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane (available through Amazon etc...) isn't just a romantic view to the past. I think that for those interested in hand tool use, it clarifies the important relationship of between utility and simplicity. The beautifully rendered images of tools and their uses demonstrate the connection between the tools and the survival of those that wielded them. These folks weren't trying to be romantic, they were trying not to starve and freeze, and by doing so, they found remarkably elegant solutions to the problems they faced using simple tools and the materials at hand. Of course, most of us don't face these problems, but we are trying to have a relationship to the tools and materials that approximates this sense of self sufficiency and clarity. Anyone who has read my posts will notice that I rarely advise the purchase of anything, but to me, this little book is an essential, check it out.


Mike Billeci said...

That's a great book. When I was a kid we found some strange old tool in the barn. Of course, this was before the internet so how could we figure out what it was? We found it in this book... it was an apple butter stirrer. Makes sense, since we lived in an old apple orchard.
I've been building furniture (as a hobby) for about 20 years. But I've never made a chair and I've always wanted to. Reading your blog has been truly inspiring. Can you recommend any books on green woodworking and on Windsor chair making. Christmas is coming up soon, you know!

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Mike,
I'd recommend J Alexanders book Make a Chair from a Tree or D Langsners Chairmakers Workshop,
merry Xmas!