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Books of the Moment

Stop the Press: I have a new favourite book!
and here it is:-

The Wooden Bowl
by Robin Wood with a foreword by Richard Raffan

Click here to buy this superb book - 24.95 Most serious woodturners, as well as many social historians, anthropologists, re-enactors, green woodworkers, revivalists, restorers and museum curators know Robin Wood and admire and respect his work in tracing the history of the production and use of turned wooden tableware.  Those who have met and talked to him, know him as a knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and intelligent man.  I guess that this book sums up all of these attributes, making it essential reading for anyone with a passion for wooden objects, be that as a maker, user, student, collector or simply an admirer.  It is one of those books for which the word "definitive" is the only appropriate adjective.  Hence I shall use it: I believe this book to be the definitive work on the subject of The Wooden Bowl, its origins, its place in history, its creation and use.  It some ways it is a "learned" book, yet it remains immensely lively and readable.

If you have never had the pleasure of watching Robin create bowls on his foot-powered pole lathe, replicating the methods of our forebears which he has painstakingly researched, relearned and reconstructed, then this is an omission on your part which you should correct at the earliest opportunity.

The book is lavishly illustrated with excellent colour photographs, clear line art and excellent illustrations of classic works of art, iconography and previously unseen sources.  The dust jacket photograph itself almost justifies the price of the book!  The material in the book is logically split so that after covering the origins of the lathe itself (4000 years ago), the timbers used (alder being the most common for hundreds of years - see our timbers page!), stepping through the various historical periods in succession, a look at the last years of specialist bowl turners prior to the modern era, an overview of the creative method used to create a bowl on the pole lathe, the work is rounded off by a comprehensive section of credits, a bibliography - and a proper index.

Having known Robin for a number of years, I had been eagerly awaiting the publication of this work for a year or more.  I was able to purchase a copy at the launch and have been avidly reading it since.  I am not in the least bit disappointed.  And for the benefit of the cynics who are sure that all of this copy is pure unashamed sales "guff" - I paid hard cash on the nose to get my copy - and at the published price.  It was a bargain!!

Take my advice: don't miss this book.


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The Wooden Bowl by Robin Wood


Woodturning - A Foundation Course (New Edition)
by Keith Rowley

The late Keith Rowley was a fine man, superb woodturner and thorough and patient teacher of the craft.  We are indeed very fortunate that he left us the legacy of the revised version of his much-read "how-to" book on the subject which he loved most.  Editing the revised edition of this excellent book was one of Keith's last efforts prior to his untimely death.

The original version of the book was a very well-deserved best-seller and set many a novice on the path to becoming an able and enthusiastic woodturner.  The new version builds on this foundation but reflects the more recent demands of his audience with the addition of full colour illustrations and photographs and a revised text which brings the book up-to-date.  Not that Keith's methods are anything but timeless: the methods that he taught are as sound today as they were twenty years ago - and they will remain sound for as long as men and women gain enjoyment from turning wood.

In my honest opinion - and that of very many others with knowledge in the field - this is the finest book on the teaching of woodturning that has been published.  Not flashy, no gimmicks, just sound information, clear instruction and the calm, reassuring voice of The Master in the background guiding the novice's steps.

This book guides the beginner from the very first steps - into the forest edge - through the equipment (best read before you start spending!), sharpening, the Laws of Woodturning (Keith has been a copper in earlier life!), spindle turning, faceplate (bowl) turning, copy-turning, finishing and, of course, safety.  A truly comprehensive course in woodturning, highly recommended as an ideal book for anyone needing to teach themselves to turn and as a reminder to those of use who feel we might have progressed beyond that stage. (A companion video is also available)


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Woodturning - A Foundation Course by Keith Rowley


Turning Green Wood
by Mick O'Donnell

Whilst sharing a title, being sourced from the same stable and penned by the same master of his craft, I would suggest that the "Turning Green Wood" book and video are not simply alternative forms of the same material.  Some of the project work shown on the video is explained in the book, in which  form it gives ample scope for thorough study and understanding, but the book also includes information on the structure and drying of wood that I have never seen better - or even equally - presented elsewhere.

This book is about turning green wood, but is not for green woodturners.  We can all learn from the information collected here, even before the project section gets started.  The photos are superb, in full colour and show tool action never previously captured.

Many have struggled to master the use of the O'Donnell swept-back grind gouge: struggle no more.  This book shows as clearly as anyone could want exactly how to handle the gouge.  Maybe we should expect Mick O'Donnell to be able to explain the grind he "invented": expect it or not, he most certainly can.  This book has earned a permanent place in my collection of woodturning favourites.


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Turning Green Wood - Book by Mick O'Donnell (Special Offer Price)


*NB: Prices quoted in pounds sterling.
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1997-2006 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice