American Country Furniture, by Nick Engler and Mary Jane Favorite, features plans for 50 projects from the workshops of David T. Smith. Projects include a dry sink, Shaker candle stand, pencil-post bed, pie safe, ladder-back chair, trestle table, spice cupboard and more. Each projects includes a clearly illustrated diagram and step-by-step instructions detailing how to cut and assemble each part. The book describes common woodworking techniques and offers insight on how the furniture was used. Of particular interest is the finishing section, highlighted by instruction for achieving an antique or distressed appearance. Engler made traditional American musical instruments before he began to write about woodworking. Favorite is a woodworking artist best known for her furniture designs, hudnreds of which have been published in woodworking magazines and books.
This Month's Book Review: American Country Furniture.
(The projects in this book are from the workshops of David T. Smith and the book is written by Nick Engler and Mary Jane Favorite.)
This second of the set of books provided by Fox Chapel Publishing is quite interesting. Not only do you get 50 plans but also a little history on American country furniture, as well as tips regarding wood, hardware and finishing techniques.
I really enjoyed reading the information provided about the wood selection and design elements that are used to create that authentic American Country look. The introductory pages talk about types of hardware that were used during different eras, tools that would have been used, and construction techniques. One element that I found particularly interesting was the way pieces were put together to stay together. A simple example is the bench that I made for the Summer Awards. The legs were not only nailed onto the bench, but glued as well and cut so that the pieces fit together. If one element fails there are two back-up components to keep it together.
As for the plans, themsleves, well, I think that my bench says it best: it took less than one hour to build. The plans and directions were so precise and easy to follow that it was just a simple measure, cut, secure. I think that this project was the easiest thing Rick and I have ever made and I give the credit to the clarity of the plans. Also, for the bench, not only did we get the basic plans but tips on what to do for different lengths, which really helped regarding stability concerns.
My Garden Bench Entry
Each of the plans comes with a story - a little history, some rationale behind certain elements, and other tidbits of interest that add to the understanding of the construction and the use of the piece of furniture. For example, with the Five-Board Bench, above, I learned that it is based on a stool from the Middle Ages and was built for multiple purposes and was used for working on as well as for sitting. Intriguing little facts!
Then, there is the section on finishing. We all know that a great project can be made or ruined by the finishing process. This section of the book discusses techniques to make or copy the look of authentic American country furniture. Again, the information is very interesting as well as helpful in understanding how to make our projects extraordinary.
If you like American country furniture, then this book is a great resource for you, not only for the many plans but also for understanding what you are building and how to make it look American Country.
My Ratings of The Book
Layout and Appearance: Perfect balance of pictures, diagrams, and words. I also like the size of the book (9.25" X 7.5" inches). Thumbs Up!
Instructions: Easy to follow; precise plans. Thumbs Up!
Project Selection: A wide variety, from small to large pieces. Thumbs Up!
Overall: Thumbs Up!
Fox Chapel's American Country Furniture will appeal to all lovers of this style.