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Queen Anne Furniture by Norman Vandal (1990, Taunton Press. 63 S. Main St., Newtown, CT06470) 248pp.; hardcover, $34.95
Queen Anne furniture is characterized by its graceful curves and symmetry, carved fans and shells, serpentine skirts, and cabriole legs. Historical and how-to books have long acknowledged the special relationship that Queen Anne holds with antique lovers and woodworkers, but they have always left us wanting more. For example, what are the features that distinguish Queen Anne from Chippendale? This is the first time such a rich tapestry of history and construction details have been combined in a book with easy-to-follow plans for so many Queen Anne furniture classics.
Author Norman Vandal has spent 15 years building reproductions of classic furniture, and he shares his wealth of insights with us. He poses the question of how accurately repro-ductions should be copies of the originals. Should all joinery, tools used and proportions match the originals? While pondering these issues he concludes that the ultimate decision is the individual cabinetmaker's. With his guidance toward design criteria and accurate period motifs, original pieces could be designed in the Queen Anne style.
The book is organized into a chapter that explains the historical development of the style, followed by chapters that discuss each type of furniture—chairs, tables, and case furniture. In recognition of the unifying role that the cabriole leg plays, he devotes an entire chapter to its background and construction.
Many times when we read woodworking books, we'll skip the how-to articles until we're ready to make those pieces. Vandal keeps us hooked throughout with eye-catch-ing photos and illustrations, historical engravings, and interesting trivia. He shows us, for example, how round chair stretchers are often made with rectangular tenons. With his keen attention to detail, we learn how to make hinged cross-shaped frame joints, turned cabriole legs, butterfly keys, and spiral-fluted flame finíais.
Carving plays an important role in Queen Anne, so a chapter on carving designs and techniques would have been useful. Also I would have enjoyed more color photos and some large exploded-view isometric drawings. Aside from that, the full-page color photos of Vandal's reproductions, detailed construction drawings, and the technical quality of the book are excellent.
(1990, Sterling Publishing Co., inc., 387 Park Ae South. New York, NY 10016) 160pp.;paperback, $12.9.5 When Frank Pain wrote Practical Woodturner in 1956 it was about the only book on the subject. More than 30 years later the book has withstood the test of time. Today, it is a classic in a field of Johnny-conic-latelys. Probably more than any other author, Pain instructed and inspired today's finest turners, including some who have written their own books.
Pain's book has been enlarged and includes revisions by James Jacob-
son. Mercifully, it remains remarkably uii-^ , changed. The V q u a 1 i t i e s j*>>í¿f£« which elevated Pain's original - ^^ work above a mere how-to book are still there. His expertise, kindness, and above all. his humor, still shine through. Having Pain's book is like having a grandfather who knows all about woodturning. and has just the right joke to lighten the inevitable moments of despair.
Jacobson showed admirable restraint in his revisions. However, in the area of safety, it would have made more sense to include the most up-to-date information avail
able. Today we recognize the hazards of some wood dusts and have ways of dealing w ith them.
A good part of Pain's original message to hold the tools lightly and cut the wood as it prefers to be cut remains. No book tells how to accomplish this better than Practical Wbod-turner. (A few of the updated photographs show an iron grip on the tool that might have poor Mr. Pain "turning" in his grave.
My only objection to the original book was its small size. But alter being enlarged and revised, the book retains its original character. So if you'd like to read a classic, have a laugh, and learn to turn all at once, get Practical Wbodturner.
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THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.