I recently finished James Krenov’s book “A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook.” It was nothing like I expected. I had read that it was not a “how to” book and it certainly wasn’t, the content was much better, and what I read will stay with me a long time.
If woodworking is in your blood, and you like to read, this is a book for you. I basically finished it in two sittings and it really spoke to me. I knew who Krenov was; I had seen his work and his tools, and I had seen him interviewed as an old man, and I had heard could be really cranky, so I had reservations about reading it. But when a book makes it to the top of many “must read book lists,” I figured there must be something there, and I was right.
“A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook” certainly isn’t a how to book or a set of instructions, it’s more like a “how come” book. The book is mainly about his love of wood. Really! To paraphrase, he says let the wood dictate form and line. Listen to the wood, design from the point of the wood, from the inside out.
My faithful readers know that I like to talk about the importance of Arts and Crafts, the spirit of artists, how we should stop consumerism and materialism, and how I am a “Modern Traditionalist.” (I use a mix of hand tools and power tools that is right for the job). Published in 1976, Krenov expresses in much better form the same things I have been blogging about. Thirty-six years ago his concerns are mine concerns. Cool and saddening at the same time.
It’s rare that I want to write in a book. I was a book seller for seven years and to make a mark in a book is pretty much taboo for me, but I wanted to underline and dog ear several pages. It is also rare that I want to read a book twice, but this book will be worth reading again one day. I highly recommend this book for your library.
If you have read the book, what are your thoughts?