What's in your Woodworking Library?

Tim and I are bibliophiles. We love books and we love reading. We each have a stack of books in the bedroom (this is Tim's current stack, left) and our an extensive library fills shelves in three rooms of our five-room house.

Living in a rural state like Montana, books help us stay connected to the wider world, to inspiration and education through reading about what others in our fields are doing all over the world. With that in mind, I'd like to ask any woodworkers or wood-lovers who wish to, to share with the rest of the guild, which books have inspired you, taught you, kept you going in your chosen craft.

Fine Woodworking #121 included an article titled, Woodworking Libraries in which five craftsmen talk about the books they have most valued over their careers. You have to be a member of Taunton's online service to read the pdf file (FW's reference service is well worth the $!)

Here is an excerpt by Alphonse Mattia, a furniture design teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design. He uses a metaphor of escaping to a small island studio with only the bare essentials of life and his craft. As his tiny rowboat takes on water he jettisons his woodworking books a few at a time until just one book remains:

"I only have my inspirational books left, and the boat is still taking on water. Ways of Seeing and About Looking by John Berger and The Nature and Art of Workmanship by David Pye are sent to the depths. Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces are next. Carol F. Pearson's The Hero Within follows. These books help us discover ourselves and understand our journeys as artists.

Robert G. Henricks' translation of Lao-tzu's Te-Tao Ching would be the last to go. It's a Bible of sorts. My books go down like the Titanic, slipping silently into a powerful swirling vortex ... created by their weighty significance.

Then I remember that these books are only symbols of knowledge. I've read them (or at least looked at the pictures) and assimilated what I could at the time. I haven't really lost them. And I still have my single most important book. It's the one book every artist should have, the record of my development and the map of my journey. Never complete because it describes an ongoing and nonlinear process that branches out and reconnects. Ultimately, that sketch book is the most valuable book of all."

How about it, all you woodworkers out there? Tell us what's in your library and we'll start a list on essential woodworking books in the sidebar. Magazines and journals count too!

I'd love it if you shared some of your favorite books and magazines -- either woodworking or inspirational -- by leaving a comment after this post. Or, if you'd rather, just send me an email to helenawoodworkers@gmail.com with a list, long or short, or books on your shelves. Thanks.
--Maureen, CBO


Tool Talk : International Woodworkers Fair

I would like to take a moment of your time to tell you that there are many ways to approach a job -- no one being right or wrong. I have attend the International Woodworkers Fair (IWF) in Atlanta, Georgia, for the last two shows. Each one has given me great exposure to new products and ideas. I would strongly recommend attending an IWF show if possible.

The next show is in July 2007 in Las Vegas. If you are not able to attend, I will be going and would be glad to look into machinery and tooling for your needs.

I have started to sell numerous brands that I was impressed with at the 2006 Atlanta show. They include TigerStop, Whirlwind, Freeborn, Southeast Tool, Her-Saf, Extrema Machinery, Freud Industrial, Glide Stop, JessEm, to name a few. I have been selling Amana tools for six years and will continue to carry that line.

Please feel free to call with any questions. I like to talk tools!

-- Bruce Ewals
Superior Sharpening and Machine Works


Wood of the Month: African Mahogany

Our hardwood special for the month of March is African Mahogany

Botanical Name: Khaya including K. ivorensis, K. anthotheca, K. grandifolia, and K. senegalensis. The family is Meliaceae – the Mahogany family. Other names include: Benin wood, Lagos wood, Khaya, Ivory Coast Mahogany, Nigerian Mahogany, degema, grand bassam.

Distribution: The tree grows in all of the timber producing countries of West Africa. It grows most abundantly in Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast to heights of 140 feet and a diameter of 6’. It has a clean cylindrical bole of 60 to 80 feet above the buttress.

General description: The wood varies from the light pinkish-brown to a deep reddish shade, often with a purple cast. The luster is high and golden, and odor and taste are not distinct. The grain is generally straight but often has a ribbon figure. Helena Hardwoods stocks mixed grain African Mahogany allowing us to meet either requirement. Crotch and swirl figures are also common.

While the wood’s characteristics are fairly close to the Central American species of Swietenia (Honduras Mahogany), African is more resistant to splitting and is unsuitable for bending. It tends to be darker in color than Honduras Mahogany with swirling grain patterns that provide an interesting appearance but is also more prone to tear out that Honduras Mahogany. Specific gravity is about .44 for K. ivorensis, the most common species, and up to .55 and .65 respectively for K. grandifolia and K. senegalensis.

Mechanical properties: In general, this wood works easily, but if the grain is interlocked it is subject to tear out. It holds glue well and will split in nailing only when thin dimensions are used. It stains evenly and takes a good polish. In damp conditions it will react with iron resulting in dark stains on the wood surface, therefore coated or non-ferrous fastenings should be used for assembly.

Uses: Khaya is a standard timber for furniture, up-scale joinery, boat building, paneling and interior work. It has frequently replaced Honduras Mahogany due to its greater abundance and lower cost.

Left and below:
Bedroom set of African Mahogany
by Tim Carney of Timothy's Fine Woodworking.

Mango and Mahogany Custom Bed
Other Links on African Mahogany:

For more information on African Mahogany or to purchase some for your next project, call Dave Ashley at Helena Hardwoods. 406.495.1066

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