My dad wants me to find him a book for his birthday. Apparently, he's
seen a book like it before, but didn't have the title, author, etc. As
he describes it, the book is very image heavy and shows photos of both a
tree and the lumber produced from it (he can recognize the lumber
readily, but is really interested in the correlation of tree to lumber).
It also apparently indicated where in the U.S. the trees grew and
might even have images depicting how the tree might vary in appearance
between say Minnesota and Florida. Striking any chords with anyone? I
would sincerely love a recommendation, especially as I haven't had much
luck online or at the local bookstores and libraries.
Don't know, but these may be what you are looking for:
"Understanding Wood" is a classic, and the identification book is a
really nice bonus.
I didn't find Hoadley's _Understanding Wood_ very interesting, either.
This may be the book he's looking for: check out Eric Sloane's _A
Reverence for Wood_. It's an excellent book, complete with some tree
identification and descriptions of how wood is used. Everyone I've
talked with who has read it, woodworkers and heathens alike, has loved
Just getting back after a farkin' virus ate my computer.
I'm still without any email or usenet archives. <sigh>
Here are a couple books I have in my collection. A smaller book (about
5" x 10", 128 pp.), the "Good Wood Handbook - The woodworker's Guide to
Identifying, Selecting and Using the Right Wood" is by Albert Jackson
and David Day. It's _very_ picture heavy -- after a short introductory
section, each page features a single tree. The page is doninated by a
large image of milled lumber, and includes a smaller image comparing
raw wood to its finished appearance, a small illustration on the tree,
and a table giving other names, written thumbnail descriptions of the
characteristics of both tree and wood, workability, average dried
weight, finishing and common uses.
The book is organized in two sections, softwoods and hardwoods
(duh...), includes a section of veneers and their production, and a
section on man-made wood. It ends with a short glossary.
My edition is copyright 1991. Originally published by Harper Collins,
this copy was published by Betterway, and imprin of F&W Publications.
(F&W also publishes Popular Woodworking magazine.)
The other end of the spectrum is "Understanding Wood - A Craftsman's
Guide to Wood Technology", by R. Bruce Hoadley (Taunton, 2000; 280
pp.). "Technology" pretty much covers the focus of this book. It's
photo heavy, but the text is weighty. You'll begin with "The Nature of
Wood," progress through "Figure in Wood," "Wood Identification,"
"Strength of Wood," "Other Properties of Wood," and end Part 1 with
"Water and Wood."
Part 2 is "The Basics of Wood Technology": "Coping with Dimensional
Change," Drying," "Machining and Bending," "Joining," "Adhesives and
"The Woodworker's Raw Materials" is Part 3: Lumber (measure,
classification and grading); Veneer and Plywood; Composite Panels;
Engineered Wood, and Finding Wood.
The section on wood identification is fascinating, but after all is
said and done, Hoadley is an academic -- a professor of wood science
and technology. This is a textbook but, if you need the information,
From the practical and the academic, let's turn in a completely
different direction, and look at "The Soul of a Tree - A Woodworker's
Refelctions," by George Nakashima.
If Jackson, Day, and Hoadley tell us how to use lumber, Nakashima
suggests why we work with wood. Part 1: the Making of a Woodworker, and
Part 2: The Tree are filled with pencil sketches of scenes from
Nakshima's life demonstrating his reverence for nature, though by the
end of the second section, he can't refrain from imparting a little
Part 3 -- the second half of the book -- is the result of a love of
wood and nature. Entitled "The Making of an Object," this section has
two part titles, "New Life for the Noble Tree," and "A Thousand Skills,
A Thousand Voices." "New Life" looks at harvesting very special
tree(s); "Skills and Voices" gives particular insight into Nakashima's
vision and design process.
This book was first published in 1981; my copy is from the first
paperback edition (1988), two years before Nakashima's death.
Not quite what your father is looking for, perhaps, but well worth the look.
Wow! Thanks for the incredibly detailed information. That first one
sounds very similar to what he described to me, so I'll definitely check
it out. I've stumbled across a few of the others and they didn't really
match up, but I may get him one or two extras. Never hurts to have
Another possibility is "The Woodbook" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)-
It's a facsimile reprint of "The American Woods", which was published in
14 volumes and had actual samples of each wood instead of photos.
Ouch! The Eric Sloane book(s) are more approachable, pricewise.
Thanks for reminding me of these -- in addition to "A Reverence for
Wood," "A Museum of Early American Tools" would be a great addition to
the collection. I also have "Return to Taos" and "I Remember America."
Looks like Sloane may have produced a couple dozen books, all graced by
his wonderful pen-and-ink drawings ("Reverence" does have a page of
full-color photos of radial sections of "Typical American Woods.")
Another book I found on the shelves while looking for the Sloane books
is "The Encyclopedia of Wood," General Editor, Aidan Walker; Facts On
File, 1989. Much like the "Good Wood Handbook" previously mentioned,
the main directory pages have photos of wood samples, along with a
small map highlighting that tree's growing area, a short description of
appearance, properties, and uses.
A small grid looking like it lost its way to a guitar chord book gives
an indication of each wood's impact bending, stiffness, density,
workablilty, bending strength, and crushing strength.
Hard- and softwoods are not segregated in these pages (that's shown by
the color block behind the wood's name); alphabetization is by the
scientific, rather than common name of the wood. It would have been
easier to look for Brazilwood than to remember you're searching for
Caesalpinia echinata, wouldn't it?
The directory is preceded by sections on "The Craftsman," "The Living
Tree" (includes Anatomy of a Tree [not quite as detailed as Hoadley],
World Forest Types, Rainforst, Rainforest Projects), and "From Wood to
Tree." The final section of the book is "The World of Wood," with
several pages each on about 20 woods, showing commons uses, growth
details, or historical illustrations.
Overall, this book might come closest to the OP's intitial description.
But each book mentioned in this thread has something to recommend it
and, as you might have gathered, I'm rather passionate about books --
whether or not they deal with wood.
Thanks again for the recommendations, everyone. I ended up ordering 4
books, some of which came directly from your comments. I got him The
Good Wood Handbook (full and pocket versions). I had a chance to look
the full version over in my local library and it seems similar to what
he described. Also from your recommendations, I ordered The Woodbook.
Another one that I found which seemed sort of interesting to me was Know
Your Woods: A Complete Guide to Trees, Woods and Veneers. Hopefully
between them all, he'll have the information that he was looking for.
Even if I didn't get exactly what he wanted, I know he'll be happy with
what I chose if only because I went to the trouble to find them. Dad's
are good that way. :)
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