I love books (I guess that’s kind of obvious, given my chosen profession). But beyond just loving books, I love the lifestyle that goes hand in hand with being a bibliophile: books in every room; books doubling as home decor; books stacked up the stairs; books propping up antique furniture that you’ve been meaning to fix… (Well maybe those last two are more an indication of a problem—one that any self-respecting bibliophile would seek to solve with an exploratory trip to the bookstore).
The latest book I edited is for bibliophiles in need of help (and who are also a bit handy). You know who you are. “How to Build Bookcases & Bookshelves” compiles 15 book storage and display projects from the pages of Popular Woodworking Magazine and American Woodworker. From a few simple but sturdy bookcases to more elaborate bookcases based on popular furniture styles to built-in shelves, you’ll find a wide array of ideas for adding bookshelving to your personal library.
It’s a great book to add to your bookshelf—after you use it to build one, of course.
One of most fun books I’ve edited lately is Django Kroner’s The Perfect Treehouse: From Site Selection to Design & Construction. Django knows his stuff—he runs the Canopy Crew, a Cincinnati-based treehouse and tree care company. He builds rental treehouses in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge and his designs are simply amazing.
And now for those looking to build their own treehouses, he has a guide. So many books on treehouses are inspiration books and offer little practical guidance—which is admittedly tough to do as every treehouse is different and your build is based on working around the organic shape of your host tree (or trees). So a book on building is a pretty tall order.
What Django offers is a book that leads you in the right direction and gives you the foundation you need to explore the world of treehouse building for yourself (which is basically what you have to do if you’re serious about your build). He covers tree selection, location, materials, common mistakes and design considerations that you need to keep in mind. The Perfect Treehouse isn’t a project book or a book of plans, but instead a helpful guide to dreaming big, carefully thinking through your design and build, and ultimately making your dream treehouse a reality.
Here’s a sneak peak:
I’m finding it hard to believe that summer is here. My book schedule has been packed full with back to back projects and I realized I hadn’t posted about a couple of books that came out in the spring. The two latest books I had the pleasure of editing are Doug Stowe’s Build 25 Beautiful Boxes and a compilation book of articles from Popular Woodworking Magazine and American Woodworker magazine titled Contemporary Furniture: 17 Elegant Projects You can Build. Both books are currently available at ShopWoodworking.com or wherever you like to buy books.
Build 25 Beautiful Boxes explores a range of decorative boxes from jewelry boxes to music boxes to woodturned boxes. There’s a lot of great detail work that goes into making these projects that will help woodworkers improve aspects of their craft including inlay. The author also offers some inspiring insights into craft and artistry through sidebars and appendices.
Contemporary Furniture offers a range of projects for nearly every room in the home – it includes side tables, an open construction bookcase, a mid-century coffee table, a trestle style dining room table and many other builds.
A few books I edited have been released recently and I realized I’m overdue for posting something about these projects. All of them have been fun and interesting to work on and I’ve been learning a bit about the craft in the process—it’s been a lot of editing, hence the lack of blogging.
Hopefully I’ll be posting more regularly about my writing/editing adventures as well as some work in the woodshop as I learn more. For now, here are range of things that are now available:
Packed full of plans for homemade machines that can help streamline your workflow in your workshop—all explained with a humorous author voice.
A comprehensive guide written specifically for woodworkers that will help them utilize the SketchUp software program (an architectural design program that can be adapted to use for furniture design).
From choosing a shop location to tool and machine advice to casework construction best practices, this book is packed cover to cover with fundamental information about the craft of woodworking.
Shop drawings for 29 Mid-Century Modern along with 2 complete project builds and a historical overview of the style and it’s influences.
So, the first book I worked on for Popular Woodworking scared the heck out of me at first. It was Alan Lacer’s Woodturning Projects & Techniques (available now at ShopWoodworking.com). Woodturning – aside from knowing that the wood spins and you shape it – was something I knew almost nothing about. And as I looked through the book the sheer amount of information was a bit overwhelming at first. I was worried I was in over my head. Tons to learn, yes. But the absolute beauty of the finished product shots and the artistry that goes into the pieces was fascinating. The cool factor of the process soon overcame the amount of detail – vast arrays of gouges and skews, lathe RPMs and the like – I was trying to digest. Ultimately, the book a great introduction to the craft of woodturning.
In speaking with the author, I learned about how he originally wrote the chapters in the book as articles for American Woodworker magazine over the course of 15 years. And AW was targeted to a general woodworking audience (not specifically turners), so the articles needed to be accessible to the general woodworker. All of this made more and more sense as I delved into the book and discovered how just how good of a woodturning course the book is. It covers basic tools and techniques, tool maintenance and sharpening, and then moves into the projects which are specifically chosen to develop different techniques from learning rolling cuts to creating flowing contours to turning a perfect sphere. Plus, the projects are super cool: natural edge bowls, a bocce ball lawn game, lidded boxes, lamps, even small stuff like wooden toy tops, fishing lures and Christmas ornaments (as well as important things to know how to turn like table legs). Very cool.
Check out an interview with Alan Lacer here, where he talks about the book and his insights into this amazing craft.
I recently had the pleasure of editing A.J. Hamler’s new book Build It with Dad: Woodworking Fun for the Whole Family. Full disclosure, I’m not wild about the gender specific title and neither was the author (that was a marketing decision based on audience demographics, etc that was beyond our control). In fact, I just sold a copy to a grandmother at a woodworking hand tool event – she was looking for woodworking projects to make with her grandkids.
But title aside, it’s a wonderful book. Perfect for exactly what that hip grandma woodworker I just mentioned had in mind – making stuff for the kids in your life. The book features projects for corn hole sets, rubber band powered race cars, bookshelves, bird feeders, candy dispensers and more.
Check out this cool wooden passive speaker for your mobile device for an example of the kind of fun woodworking projects you’ll find in the book.
It was a fun book to edit. One day I hope to try making a few of these projects with my daughters.
Over the past few months I’ve been transitioning to a new editorial role. I’ve taken on the book editor job for Popular Woodworking Books. Here’s a post I wrote about that on the PW editor’s blog that talks a bit about that new role. I’m enjoying the new work and having a chance to write and edit in a new subject area.
In the meantime a few books that I finished up editing for HOW and PRINT Books have become available:
Creative Anarchy by Denise Bosler is one of the best books I got a chance to work on covering the subject of graphic design. Bosler has an excellent writing voice and provides incredibly accessible instruction on ways to break the rules of design. In this highly illustrated book she teaches you the rules, explains when it makes sense to break them, and then gives you ideas for ways to do just that – and come up with something fresh and new.
Design Funny by Heather Bradley is a fun book about injecting humor into graphic design work – something that sounds easy enough, but when you get down to it is incredibly complicated. You have to consider the sense of humor of your client, of your audience and how to truly communicate what your piece and your client are trying to say. Bradley covers styles of humor, techniques, and gives tons of examples from well-known brands and publications.
Cultivating Creativity by Maria Fabrizio is a book about creative process. Fabrizio is the creator of Wordless News, a daily art project that recreates the mornings headlines through charming illustrations. Her book is a lovely meditation on the act of creating art and ways to stay productive and creative day after day.
Geek Merit Badges by Meghan Murphy (creator of the popular Kwaii Not web comic) is a fun book for anyone who loves all things geeky – from comics to movies to popular culture. It’s full of fun activities and quizzes for measuring your geek-cred and tons of references to all the best stuff: Star Wars, Doctor Who, Bat-Man and all the things that make geek hearts swell and burst. The truly geeky will find themselves testing themselves at every turn. Plus it has stickers!
So good stuff. They were fun books to work on and I’m privileged to have gotten to the chance to work with such great writers and creators. But it was time for some new challenges – stay tuned!