Chapter 4:2 1921-1930 : Woodworker Magazines and Manuals

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In 1920s, Woodworker's Manuals Focused on Hand Tools:

But, in a departure from this norm among woodworker's manuals of the 1920s decade, his 1924 woodworker's manual, Woodworking: A Handbook for Beginners in Home and School, Treating of Tools and Operations.  Charles G Wheeler includes a lengthy chapter dedicated to stationary power tools.

workbench_stanley_1927aI mention this only because most other manuals of that decade concentrated upon hand tools, particularly if these manual authors saw amateur woodworkers as the primary audience. As evidence, check the 1927 woodworker's manual published by the Stanley Rule and Level Plant: How to Work With Tools and Wood: For the Home Workshop. This manual is replete with numerous photos that show a professional man -- we know this because he is always dressed in suit vest, white shirt and tie -- in his basement shop, full of hand tools, but no power tools visible -- engaged in several settings: helping a son with a project; being praised by his wife for a just-completed  project -- but, again, no sign of power tools. (Document 47 reprints Chapter 4, "This Will be a Bench" and many of the over 30 illustrations.)

Here are a few of the documents I have uploaded on electrification, fractional  horse power motors and the development of power tools. But also check Chapter 4.5

Document 30: George A Schock: Early History of the Baldor Electric Co., 1920-1976 1992

Document 34: The Development of the Induction Motor in America

Document 23: John Shaw Portable Electrically-Driven Machines 1928

Document 17: Judson Mansfield Woodworking Machines -- History of Development, 1852-1952

Writers woodworker's manuals of the era of rapid electrification, the market of fractional horse-power electric motors, then, were slow to pick up on the rapid shift by amateur from hand to power tools in the 1920s.

If you check Chapter 4.5, on technological development of power woodworking tools, you soon discover why I claim a disconnect. 

Amatuer woodworkers were quick to adopt the power tools, scaled to the homeworkshop, rapidly coming into the market. We know this because, as reported in the volume 1, number issue of Popular Homecraft, in 1930, a survey of the nation yielded the fact that over 77,000 homes claimed home-shops with power tools. In his 1924 woodworker's manual, Charles G. Wheeler, a prominent industrial arts teacher and a ranking official in Boy Scouts of America, introduces his readers to numerous stationary power tools, most of which are too hefty to consider for home workshops. 

Document 41: Popular Homecraft volume 1, number 1, 1930 "The Growing Popularity of Homecraft Workshops"

Moreover, interestingly, Wheeler includes an entry in his index for "router" -- pages 333-334 -- but on those pages of his book he discusses shapers only. Why do I find this incident puzzling? Today, we can create indexes of books -- using the digitized manuscript of a book or article -- with Microsoft Word XP. In 1924, using the book's galleys, I can visualize Wheeler, pencil in hand, dutifully indexing away, for several months, laboriously citing all the items on each page he thought  would interest readers. (Without the needed background knowledge, I imagine that creating an index with an old maual typewriter would have been, quite simply, nightmare! ) Knowing from experience the perfidy of publishers, I think, maybe, that Wheeler's section on "production routers" was eliminated, while the book was in production,  but the index entry was not removed. This is a pity, because we could see first hand what Wheeler intended when he discussed the production router for the amateur woodworker.wallace router in hjorth 1930 

(Several years later, in 1929, the J D Wallace 47 lb high-speed shaper came out on the market.

The image on the left is interesting because of the coincidence of the 1929 appearance of the product on the market

Charles Hayward's First Woodworker's Manual

A very youthful charles Harold Hayward -- born in 1898, and claiming to be a London-based "self-employed carpenter" -- published his first book of interest to woodworkers in 1924: English Furniture at a Glance. Between the early 1920s and the 1970s, Hayward would go on to publish over 30 woodworker's manuals and edit at least two magazines dedicated to woodworking, a feat that makes him a strong competitor with Paul Hasluck and R J Decristoforo as the most prolific writer of books and articles for woodwrkers in the 20th century. The link for English Furniture at a Glance leads to a pdf for the book's title page, some prefatory material, and the chapters on benches and chairs.

Total Corpus of Woodworker's Manuals for the Decade

Click here for a table that shows how many woodworker's manuals were published in America, decade by decade, in the 20th century. These figures come from data I downloaded out of bibliographic records maintained by the Worldcat database service. My examination of many -- but not nearly all -- of the reputed 282 woodworker's manuals published between 1921 and 1930 show that writers  of these manuals concentrated on hand work, especially when these manuals targeted young woodworkers.

(See also Appendix 4,  A Century of Woodworking Manuals

Magazines and newspapers with woodworking content; woodworker's manuals

Both Popular Mechanics and Popular Science [create links later], very successfully launched in the 19th century, contained articles on woodworking, either about tools and/or projects for woodworkers.

homemade jointer instructins from 1925 shopnotes

In 1905, Popular Mechanics began its annual, Shop Notes, and continued its
 publication until the 1930s. That Lee Valley, the Canadian-based woodworking and gardening tool distributor, saw fit to reprint and sell these volumes in their stores and mail order catalogs in the 21st century speaks "volumes" about Shop Notes persistent usefulness for American "mechanics" and other craftsman such as woodworkers. (Google Books has uploaded a pdf of the 1921 ShopNotes.)

Access to woodworking topic 1921 - 1930 in newspapers is available in; I have a subscription and regularly search their database, topic by topic, for appropriate material.

Woodworker's Manuals: For statistics on numbers of woodworker's manuals published decade by decade, see manuals access page and/or Woodworker's Manuals 1921-1930.

More and more frequently, copies of woodworker's manuals are being digitized and uploaded to the Internet by Google Print. I try to keep up with these events, and indicate appropriately the titles of woodworker's manuals that can be read on the Web, but it is a endless task; I ask that readers inform me if they encounter web-based manuals, not yet indicated as accessible in digitized format on the Interent.