Woodworker's manuals 1921 to 1930.
under construction 2-08-10
What follows immediately below are preliminary remarks designed to highlight matters that I have discovered in beginning a survey of woodworking manuals published over a period of three centuries.
Why survey three centuries of woodworking manuals? The main focus of my study is the 20th century, but since woodworking manuals published in the 18th century remain popular among certain amateur woodworkers today, I believe that I need to explore approaches that allows you to visualize the context in which these "original" woodworking manuals were published, and thus may be able to sense their significance as timeless artifacts.
My first convictions about woodworking manuals is that the intent of their authors in assembling these manuals is to instruct and to inspire.
The "to instruct" -- the "how-to-do-it" function -- is obvious. Potential woodworkers need guidance, and guidance comes best from other woodworkers' experience.
The "to inspire" part may not be obvious to beginners, of course, but finding any evidence of attempts toward inspiration is usually not difficult, especially if you read the introduction to a woodworking manual.
For example, read the introduction to the 1946 woodworker's manual, How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, published by Popular Science.
This manual's Introduction revives the term, "Skill Hunger", coined and popularized in the Depression by promoters such as Lawrence Pearsall Jack, for promoting use of "leisure time" wisely.
What is "skill hunger?" For the editors of the woodworker's manual, How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools, skill hunger concerns "How the Hammer, Saw and Try-Square Can Satisfy the Urge to Make Things". Read more on this term by clicking on this hyperlink.
In comparison, how does this 1946, How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, manual stand up in promoting use of power tools over competitive manuals?
I checked this matter by doing a survey of woodworking manuals published between 1941 and 1950 in the Worldcat bibliographic database.
(Worldcat, the world's largest bibliographic database of books, periodicals, publications of governments, etc, etc., currently contains records for over 50 million items.)
How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, Worldcat registers only 17 copies in libraries worldwide -- telling us that libraries did not perceive this title as a "keeper", meaning that, realistically, we can't use library holdings as an indicator of the impact of this manual on the amateur woodworking movement in the '40s.
(Since How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools is over 50 years old, and has been "replaced" by numerous other more up-to-date manuals, most public libraries could have "discarded" their copies for more recently published books.
By discard, do not think the trash can; instead, it is more likely that the book was offered for sale at one of the book sales public libraries conduct annually. As a rule, public libraries -- unlike college libraries -- do not consider themselves "last copy" repositories. However, while this assumption may be soundly based, it is still only speculation.)
Worldcat registers that in 1946, 35 volumes were published, and for the decade, i.e., from 1941-1950, 206 volumes were published that libraries classified as woodworking manuals. So, with these figures, we can conclude that the How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools volume had much competition, especially in a nation occupied by a war.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools was, however, indexed in the Index to Handicrafts, Modelmaking and Workshop Projects, 2d supplement, 1950. This is one volume in a series of five volumes, published between 1943 and 1975. These volumes were purchased widely by public libraries, because their contents are indexes the internal contents of manuals. Pages of The Index to Handicrafts where certain "how-to" plans are accessible: for example, the following entry shows that you can find:
"Mortising and shaping on the drill press". In How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Workshop Hand and Power Tools, pp. 91-95.
The Index to Handicrafts began as an in-house file of hand-written 3 x5 inch library cards in the Pittsburgh Public Library. Click on this link for an online example of how a public library lists these volumes.How to get the most out of your home workshop hand and power tools is still in the Index to Handicrafts, Modelmaking and Workshop Projects volume, but the manual itself -- probably because in public libraries it is considered outdated -- has been removed from the shelves of many public libraries.
Some Final Notes:First, before starting this woodworking history project, I was not aware of the manuals listed below. Since examining them, and writing about them -- and, yes, buying used copies of many -- I have convinced myself that we -- as woodworkers -- are neglecting a vast potential resource. Why? Woodworking -- both an artform and an acquired skill -- continues to build upon a very long historical tradition that traces back as far as man's first appearance on earth. Woodworking, in other words, rests upon a foundation of knowledge and wisdom derived from its past, and -- each in its own way -- the manuals below exhibit qualities of this wisdom.
Second, these manuals could/should be arranged in reverse chronological order. Why? At the end of the decade, we view some truly significant events: One, under Arthur Wakeling, two 1930 manuals -- The Home Workshop Manual. Things To Make in Your Home Workshop. -- that are foundation stones in the formation of the National Homeworkshop Guild. (For more info on this important manual click here) Two, Delta releases its 3-vol The modern woodworking shop, a vehicle for announcing its new power machinery. In 1926, Charles G Wheeler features a manual which covers power tools -- unusal for that date -- but only a hand full are for the home workshop. Three years later, almost all is changed. The sections on power tools in Wakeling, for example, could have been ripped out of the Tautz and Fruits set.
Third, several manuals of this decade stand out as contributors to building an amateur woodworking movement: Paul Woolley's two volumes that index 22 + The Boy's Busy Book.
Chronological List of Woodworking Manuals, Periodicals, 1921-1930:1922: Worst, Edward F. Problems in woodwork. 2d ed. 1922. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce, 1922.
Indexed in Index to Handicrafts 1936
1924: Charles G Wheeler. Woodworking: A Handbook for Beginners in Home and School, "Treating of Tools and Operations" Putnam, 1924. 369 pages.Indexed in Index to Handicrafts 1936
In the 1926 book, Woolley lays out his intent in a piece he calls: "The Importance of Projects in the Education of Boys" Read the text of this in the window below:
In 1925: A Guide to the Study of Woodworking, Peoria, Illinois: Manual Arts Press book, 1925.
In 1926: A Guide to Woodworking Projects: A Companion Volume to A Guide to the Study of Woodworking, Peoria, Illinois: Manual Arts Press book, 1926.
Concerns authors work as designer and craftsman.
1927 : Stanley Tools. How To Work with Tools and Wood for the home workshop by the Stanley Rule & Level Plant, 1927. 180 pages. Indexed in Index to Handicrafts 1936 Link to extended treatment of the Stanley Tools manuals
Bobby's little work corner in the basement or garage will surely be worth all it costs to maintain. The thought that it is his workshop, his bench, his tools, his book of instructions and plans, will cause his chest to expand with a new pride that will be a pleasure for any mother and father to behold. And the sense of ownership will be all the sweeter to him if he is encouraged to enlarge his outfit of tools by adding one at a time, buying it with his own earnings.
Bobby will form habits of self-reliance, orderliness, and thrift down there in his little place of business. No veteran workman, aside from his book, will be there to advise him; but the book will suggest, and he will cudgel his wits and find the solution.
The tools must be put back in their places when he is through; the shavings swept up. The constant battle with mechanical problems sharpens his wits and inventive faculties. Through handling measurements that are made with a purpose, he begins to see the value of arithmetic, the fine stuff in fractions; and these were always terribly dry in his classes! A thirst develops for things of a scientific turn; and for publications dealing with what is actually happening in the world of mechanics and engineering. On rainy Saturdays he is found drawing plans for some new device, instead of standing before the front window and looking dejectedly out into the street.
On the autumn evenings when the "gang" is out hatching up new mischief, he is gleefully brushing glittering paint on some clever toy he is making for Betty's Christmas gift. Yes, it's a fine thing to be a busy boy, and I know of few better ways to induce a boy to become busy than to allot him a work corner, hand him a sympathetic, silent instructor in the shape of a book, and say, "Now, Bobby, you may get busy ! "
Grand Rapids, Mich. Sept. I, 1927.
Special attention has been given to selecting such problems as will occupy small floor space, because a large number of pupils, especially in the large cities, live in small flats. This accounts for the folding tea tables, reed trays, wall bookracks, end tables, etc.
A variety of projects with a combination of materials, e.g., reed, cane, clay, or parchment with wood is a distinctive feature of this book. There are also a number of projects involving wood turning for the junior and senior high school.
The projects have been chosen, for the most part, to meet the needs of the average American home. Many of the pieces of furniture can be made easily in the home workshop, while others that are more difficult should be made in the school shop or where some expert advice and help can be secured. Today, with the many different makes of portable, motorized woodworking machines, it is possible to do the greater part of our furniture making by machine operations. This phase of the work has opened a way to profitable pastime occupation.
Special effort has been made to give grace of line, good proportion, and substantial construction to all of the projects. Free use has been made of the various eastern museums and better furniture shops, so as to make the influence of some of the old master cabinet makers felt, in a simplified way, in the designs shown.
Each article has either been made by the hands of the writer or under his direct supervision, which should insure the practicability of the working drawings.
The pieces of furniture have been photographed in the home environment, and suggest pleasing arrangement and good composition.
I hereby wish to express … gratitude to ... Arthur Wakeling of the Popular Science Monthly for permission to use the designs shown in this book. [For the background on Klenke's mention of Wakeling, click here.]