A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook should be on everyone’s top 5 woodworking books. Written in 1976, this book is the first of five books that would be written by James Krenov. Though not a large work at 132 pages, it is however very inspirational and contains many wonderful black and white photos. Krenov lived from 1920 till 2009, during those many years he lived around the world, help start a fine woodworking school, and taught and touched many people’s lives. As a craftsman he used both power and hand tools and did so in a perfect balance. But, this book is about a lot more than just the tools used to build furniture.
Krenov was very concerned with the wood itself. More so than many others, Krenov always thought of what the wood wanted to be. He always allowed the wood to have a say in the production of his pieces. The flow of the grain mattered, the colors mattered, and the wood was always left to speak for itself. Today many make furniture to survive much use and abuse. Krenov built furniture in a way to let it dictate its gentleness and beauty. Most of all, Krenov believed furniture should be something more than just furniture. He liked the idea that furniture would help people to smile, to relax, and to enjoy being around his creations. He believed his furniture would draw people in to continually discover new things about each and ever piece that he built, never leaving any area untouched nor unfinished.
This is what this book is about. Krenov speaks about his life, his methods, why he made his own planes, and how he fell into woodworking. His overall vision of furniture making and design are truly original and hard to duplicate.
There are many great books out there when it comes to woodworking. I learned long ago that the mark of a great book is one that you can read over and over throughout your life and learn and enjoy more about it each time you read it. This is one of those books.
This book is a great reflection of Krenov’s works. At first glance you might think Krenov’s work is very simplistic and easy. However, the more you look at his work you find more small details, more subtle things done with purpose, and more depth to his work than what is observable upon first encounter.
I would encourage anyone and everyone to read this book. James Krenov taught a lot of people when he was alive and he is still effecting people today. This is a life-changing book for any woodworker. You may never look at your projects in the same way again. And that should be a good thing.
This book is available everywhere on the market. I would recommend finding a vintage hardcover, they just last a lot longer, and you might want this book to be around for a long while.