A History of Woodworking  ~  Raymond McInnis
list of manual authors

The links directly lead to webpages on "Master" authors of Woodworker's Manuals 

Woodworker Manual Author #1: Mario Dal Fabbro -- Promoter of "Modernist" Furniture Designs 

Woodworker Manual Author(s) #2: Percy A Wells and John Hooper -- Patrician Woodworker's Manual Authors

Woodworker Manual Author #3: John Gerald Shea -- Intrepid Writer of Woodworker's Manuals for Furniture of America's Ethnic Cultures

Woodworker Manual Author #4: Lester Margon -- Master Illustrator of Museum Furniture  

Woodworker Manual Author #5: Franklin H Gottshall -- A "Classic" Cabinetmaker/Teacher in American Woodworking Annals

Woodworker Manual Author# 6: Walt Durbahn: From Master Carpenter to School Principal to Lexicographer to TV Star

Woodworker Manual Author (Corporate -- Stanley Tools) #7: How to Work With Tools and  Wood 1927 & 1952

Woodworker Manual Author # 8: Under Construction

Woodworker Manual Author #9: Arthur Wakeling and the Formation of the National Homeworkshop Guild in the 1930s 

Woodworker Manual Author #10: R J DeCristoforo -- "Dean" of Manual Writers

Woodworker Manual Author #11: Aldren Auld Watson, Self-Taught Artist, Self-Taught Woodworker

Woodworker Manual Author #12: Popular Mechanics and Popular Science Go Massive with Multi-Volume Encyclopedias on "Do-It-Yourself" Multi-Volume Encyclopedias -- under construction

Woodworker Manual Author #13: "Ira Samuel Griffith" Dynamic Teacher, Talented Carpenter, Prolific Author, Visionary Theoretician

Woodworker Manual Author #14: Herman Hjorth: The Woodworker as Renaissance Man: Teacher, Craftsman, Historian

Woodworker Manual Author #15: Woodworker Manual Author (Corporate -- Stanley Tools)

Woodworker Manual Author #16: Jacques Andre Roubo --L'Art du Menuisier 1769

Woodworker Manual Author #17: Charles Holtzapffel Turning and Mechanical Manipulation 4 volumes 1846 - 1879

Woodworker Manual Author #18: Charles Harold Hayward-- "Self-Employed Carpenter" -- Prolific Author of Woodorker's Manuals -- Editor of Magazines on Woodworking

Woodworker Manual Author #19: under construction

Woodworker Manual Author #20: Gustav Stickley -- Influential Visionary, Self-Made Entrepreneur, Furniture Designer

Notes for a Bibliography of a Century of Woodworking Manuals

(under construction -- 2-18-09)

Any book that gives info on woodworking, whether how-to-do-it  -- "processes" --  or projects to build -- "products" -- is, in my rubric, a woodworker's manual. Each narrative chapter of my online history of the amateur woodworking movement includes an annotated list of woodworker's manuals published during that same decade. (Links to narrative chapters in box at top of this page. )

Links Below Lead to Two Centuries of Woodworker's Manuals

1. Woodworker's Manuals 1900 and Before

2.Woodworker's Manuals 1901-1910

3. Woodworker's Manuals 1911-1920

4. Woodworker's Manuals 1921-1930

5. Woodworker's Manuals 1931-1940

6. Woodworker's Manuals 1941-1950

7. Woodworker's Manuals 1951-1960

8. Woodworker's Manuals 1961-1970

9. Woodworker's Manuals 1971 -1980

10. Woodworker's Manuals 1981-1990

11. Woodworker's Manuals 1991-2000

12. Woodworker's Manuals 2001 and later

In the inline frame directly below, scroll down to the chart that shows -- decade-by-decade -- the numbers of woodworker's manuals published over a century. I think that you will be quite surprised by the shear numbers of titles, clearly an indication of a "market" for books that addressed amateur woodworkers' intersts and needs.

Notes on Woodworkers Manuals

How Did Woodworkers Discover the Existence of Woodworker's Manuals?

One vexing research problem in this history of amateur woodworking -- for the first half of the 20th century -- concerns  how amateur woodworkers found out about what manuals existed and how to get access to them. While John Tebbel's 4-volume A History of Book Publishing in the United States (New York: Bowker, 1978) is outstanding as a source for topics on mainstream publications, fiction, general nonfiction, and the like, for specialized areas like woodworking or cookbooks, coverage is sketchy, at best.

John -- he's a friend -- does discuss bookstores, and other types of distribution, such as newsstands and books sold in large department stores such as Macy's, he does not mention speciality fields.

We know nonetheless that woodworking books were published in considerable numbers, which suggests that publishers saw them as marketable. Further, starting in 1936, the Index to Handicrafts was used widely in public libraries, and chapters of woodworking books are well represented among the books contained on its pages.

Likewise, seeing an additional source of profit, periodicals dedicated to woodworking such as Home Craftsman, (1931-1965) each month published a full page listing of manuals and other types of books from many publishers that readers could order through Home Craftsman.

(Further, in going through Seattle Public Library's volumes of Home Craftsman, evidence readily exists that a librarian checked Seattle Public's holdings of woodworker's manuals against the Home Craftsman lists.)

It's obvious, too, that something happened in publishing, probably that the volume of books published on handicraft topics, including woodworking, became much larger because after 1974, the Index to Handicrafts reduced itself to exclusively indexing the chapters of books -- i.e., dropping periodicals entirely, and then -- after 1984 -- simply ceased publication, suggesting that the volume of books published had become too great, at least for a strictly volunteer operation that the Index to Handicrafts always was.

Taken together, then all these factors show that woodworker's manuals were published in plentiful numbers -- --  but a lack of bookstores in the first half of the 20th century made access and purchase of these woodworker's manuals problematical. In contrast,  in the second half of the 20th century, as bookstores moved into smaller and smaller urban areas, the possibility of  woodworkers  access to woodworker's manuals became much easier.

After 1976, when woodworker's periodicals such as Fine Woodworking and American Woodworker emerged, book clubs suddenly appeared along with these magazines and began advertising in issues of these perioidcals. (I'll have to investigate the woodworker's book clubs.)

And finally, used bookstores became rich sources of books on woodworking, and in this age of the Internet, buying used woodworker's manuals is possible through outlets such as Alibris, Barnes and Noble , and Amazon

Random notes on the historicity of woodworker's manuals.

 

 Until I launched on this project, the only "old" woodworker's manuals I was familiar with were Franklin Gottshall's 1937 How to Design Period Furniture, R J DeCristoforo's 1953 Power Tool Woodworking for Everyone, and the 1950s Delta manuals, all with the title How to Get the Most Out of Your [?]. (All of the latter I owned because of the vintage tools I owned.) However, once I began working on this history of woodworking project, it dawned on me that maybe woodworker's manuals were worth examining.

(In my earlier career, when I wrote several books on historical subjects, I became convinced that -- to understand a given historical period -- looking at the documents contemporary to the period was essential.)

Using the digitized bibliographical database, Worldcat, I began assembling a list of workworker's manuals. As the list was constructed, I began either borrowing the actual volumes from libraries or purchasing my own copies. Slowly it began to dawn on me what these books contained, veritable treasure chest of memories of what amateur woodworkers were confronted with, decade by decade, including whether they used hand tools or power tools, what projects they preferred, etc. Next I began to make notes -- annotations -- on manuals that I considered more significant, and scanning images of recommended projects, the text of "prefaces", "tables of contents", and the like. 

Soon the list became formidably long, suggesting divisions by decade. Below are links to each decade, and exhibits of how far I have progressed.

Finally, the Google Print Service is beginning to payoff "bigtime". Books and Periodicals, vitrually hidden away on the shelves of large libraries are increasingly available on the Internet in fulltext, digitized versions. For example, Manual Arts Press, a publisher catering primarily to the Industrial Arts, but to home craftsmen as well. Google Print has uploaded the Manual Arts 1915 60-page bibliography of its books and selected books of other publishers: Books on the Manual Arts .  For example, The Manual Arts biblography describes as the best and most comprehensive book on cabinfetmaking"  this woodworker's manual designed primarily for the furniture manufacturing trade, Percy A. Wells and John Hooper's Modern Cabinetwork Furniture and Fitments: An Account of the Theory and Practice in the Production of all Kinds of Cabinetwork and Furniture With Chapters on the Growth and Progress of Design and Construction Illustrated by Over 1000 Practical Workshop Drawings Photographs and Original Designs London: Batsford; Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1909. ca 380 pages,