Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Woodworking for women

Generally speaking, I tend to resist how-to guides that are supposed to specifically counter-act stereotypes. Cooking is cooking, and if a man doesn't know how to cook, he needs a guide for new cooks, not male cooks. I have the same trepidation about our new book Woodworking 101 for Women: how to speak the language, buy the tools & build fabulous furniture from start to finish, by Marilyn MacEwen. I would love to block out the "for Women" part of the spine label, because this is a good overall guide for any beginning woodworker, and it would be a shame if men didn't bother to pull it off the shelf because of the title. MacEwen begins the book with a nice overview of wood and its properties, as well as the selection and care of tools. The chapter on techniques might be the most valuable part of the book, as she gives lots of hints and pointers about milling lumber, using biscuits, mortise and tenon, dadoes, grooves and rabbets, as well as dovetailing, curving wood, and doing inlays. She then offers the burgeoning woodworker 13 projects of increasing difficulty, including tables, cabinets, a mantel and a beautiful inlaid platform bed. Woodworking being an art, the look and design of the pieces is very modern (one of the difficulties of keeping woodworking books in the collection is that trendy-looking projects age quickly). Not being a woodworker, the instructions seem a bit brief to me, but if you know what you're doing they should be perfectly adequate. In fact, this book can be quite valuable to an experienced woodworker as a source of additional project and design ideas. So don't let the title turn you off, guys - this is woodworking for everyone.

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