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 Joel's Blog at Tools for Working Wood

The Biggest Book In Woodworking  

02/12/2014

There are many contenders for the most important book in woodworking, and the best book in woodworking is a subjective subject. However I probably can tell you what's the biggest book in Woodworking. Thomas J. Beveridge's 1921 "English Renaissance Woodwork 1660-1730: A Selection of the Finest Examples of Monumental and Domestic Woodwork of the Later Renaissance in England, Chiefly of the Period of Christopher Wren" is only 80 plates long but at 19" high by 14", it covers an entire settle seat and doesn't fit in any shelf I own. It's a problem and I still haven't figured out how to store it. I don't know of any larger woodworking book.

The book is a series of 80 plates, each detailing various bits of late 17th century architectural woodwork. This is the time of Moxon, Christopher Wren, the rebuilding of London after the great fire, and in general a time of exuberant architectural woodworking. You really see in the work a general expansion of design that we didn't see in the sixteenth century (Cromwell might have had something to do with that). Between the rebuilding of London, the end of Puritan England, a new availability of metal due to the first ideas of the Industrial Revolution, not to mention England's new wealth as a international trading giant, and finally a rise in skilled work and better tools we get some wonderful pieces of work.

For me the book is a great reference of architectural carving designs. For the original 1920's audience I wonder if the book was a reaction to the modernism sweeping Europe, or a sympathetic wave to the neo-colonial movement in America? I don't know.

I don't know of an electronic version of this book, it is, however, not that rare and most good library systems should have a copy.

In other news: Next weekend is The Woodworking Shows in Somerset NJ. See you there!
This past week we launched a new glue, Nexabond 2500, instant glue, is is designed to set up in only a few minutes and be far more friendly to stains and finishes than yellow glue. Is is a one part glue and doesn't need to be mixed, or shaken up before us.

PS - Sorry about the photos - I got the idea for this blog on Tuesday night, and all I had was my phone and bad lighting.
Tags:Historical Subjects
Comments: 4
02/12/2014Paul 
Yeesch - had to be that size to contain the title.
02/12/2014Ken McColly 
I would like to see this book be reprinted. I would gladly purchase one.
02/12/2014peter evans 
Joel, must have been the period. In this publishing style, I have "The Wood Carver" by J. S. Gibson, 3rd ed 1906 that is 18.25" x 11.5". Some of the full-size design sheets are folded in 4, so 36.5" x 23"! All design sheets are printed on one side, and regrettably 2 sheets have been (neatly) cut out.

I do have a book shelf that is _just_ big enough

Cheers Peter
02/12/2014peter evans 
Joel, must have been the period. In this publishing style, I have "The Wood Carver" by J. S. Gibson, 3rd ed 1906 that is 18.25" x 11.5". Some of the full-size design sheets are folded in 4, so 36.5" x 23"! All design sheets are printed on one side, and regrettably 2 sheets have been (neatly) cut out.

I do have a book shelf that is _just_ big enough

Cheers Peter
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.
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