This book is one that I believe all woodworkers should read, if only to have an understanding and appreciation for those who came before us. First published in 1937, this book is a firsthand account of growing up in a rural carpenter’s shop. Walter Rose came from a line of rural carpenters that were skilled in many lost forms of woodcraft. Walter tells of a time long ago when the local carpenters shop was so very much important and central to the life of a small village in England. The story takes place during his childhood, prior to the death of his grandfather and master carpenter in 1893.
Though you will not learn how to cut perfect dovetails, construct a highboy, or learn the secrets of design, this book is very entertaining, enlightening, and illustrates how woodcraft was of great value to many before the industrialization of modern life.
Walter takes us on a journey as he follows his grandfather, father, and fellow carpenters from job to job, telling fascinating stories of their skills, quirks, and dedication to their work. He includes what it was like cutting trees into planks in the old saw pit, making field gates, fixing cogs on old wooden mills, making and installing wooden water pumps, some tidbits of info on old hand tools, and even the construction of a wooden rat trap. Though some of the topics discussed in this book are not relevant themselves anymore, the way in which the craftsman worked and how they went about their work is still very relevant to the modern craftsman.
If you have never read this book, then I suggest you do. There are not many woodworking books that are written in a story form. We often dive into books that teach techniques or inundate us with information that is very useful, however are not always the most enjoyable to read. I highly recommend this book for those that are in the mood for a good story of simpler times. It may just motivate you to become a local village carpenter yourself.
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