Book Review: The Joiner and Cabinet Maker

The Joiner and Cabinet Maker

Book review time!

As I promised a few posts back, I’m going to write up my thoughts on this book and share them with you all.

The book is “The Joiner and the Cabinet Maker” by Moskowitz and Schwartz.  It’s available here at Lost Art Press for $29 by itself, or $34 with a companion DVD.  Which was the version I got, and it was worth it.  My first copy got lost in the mail somehow, and the wonderful people there sent me a copy again, first class customer service there.

This book is different, that’s what makes it hard to summarize or review I think.  It’s not the normal woodworking or history book, it’s both and also more than that.  It’s a history book, a how to book, and an inspiring story all rolled into one.  It’s very readable, hard to put down, and makes we want to work on my hand tool all at once.

The first part of the book is some context for the story, and the history behind it.

The second part is a story following a young apprentice as he learns the craft of joinery.

The third part documents the three projects discussed in the story, and lays out practical steps and context for the tools and techniques.

The context provided is the best part.  It’s like you’ve got a master craftsman sitting there reading with you, and pointing out parts that are unclear based on the drift of language over time or providing details to make something a bit more concrete.  Joel Moskowitz covers a lot of background, and practical stuff in the footnotes sprinkled all through the story text.  It adds so much to learning part, helps with context and makes it all the more useful.

The story itself is a bit quaint, but the knowledge presented is unique, since most of things being discussed are rarely written down from that time, and represents a chance for a modern person to take a few lessons in a long gone joiners shop.  And then, Christopher Schwartz translates the actual projects for us, helping us bridge the gap in ways that make sense.

I read it cover to cover, and was sad when it was done. I want more books like this, and I don’t think they exist.

I highly recommend that any aspiring hand tool woodworker should read this book.  It’s worth it.


*corrected who wrote the footnotes.

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