Book News

I have several partially written books both in my head and on paper/hard drive. One of the reasons I have held back on furniture titles was the lack of a suitable space in which to photograph the various stages of furniture reproduction: The Lemon Studio, whilst wonderfully atmospheric to work in (weather permitting), was not a consistent or reliable theatre for shooting presentable photographs.

I now have a workshop with a roof and an area set aside within for photography, so all I need do now is garner the requisite camera skills and I’m in business!

I initially considered writing a series of books along the lines of this blog viz. detailing the history and construction of various items of furniture divided into the Age of Oak, the Age of Walnut and the Age of Mahogany (roughly 1660 to 1790).

A problem with that approach would be the inevitably lengthy preambles to build a sense of the social history behind the examples, and the technicalities involved in each piece (not that that would necessarily be a bad thing), but it might make for heavy reading for those cutting their teeth on furniture reproduction.

Chests of drawers are open books, which, through their dovetailed- and mortice and tenon construction, veneered surfaces, mouldings and turnings, encapsulate the majority of cabinetmaking techniques identifiable in, not only case pieces, but tables and chairs too. What’s more, the timelines of construction methods, materials and brasses are more easily read in chests than any other furniture genre.

Therefore, I now believe a monograph on late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chests of drawers would be a better introduction to those with an interest in case pieces and all manner of furniture from this period.

The book’s contents may vary as I work my way through it, but the projected chapters are as follows:

  • The Development of the Chest of Drawers.
  • A William and Mary Walnut Veneered Chest, circa 1695.
  • A Queen Anne Walnut Veneered Chest, circa 1705.
  • A George I Virginia Walnut Chest, circa 1720.
  • A George II Mahogany Chest, circa 1740.
  • A George III Mahogany Chest, circa 1765.
  • Reproduction finishing.

I have carefully selected the dates of the chests to encompass as many different and historically appropriate construction methods as possible. Some of the areas and techniques covered in the book will include:

  • Through and lapped dovetails.
  • Through and lapped dustboards.
  • Feather- and cross-banding
  • Straight- and crossgrain mouldings.
  • Bun feet.
  • Plain and ogee bracket feet.
  • Dressing slides.
  • Plain, lapped and frame-and-panel backboards.
  • Hardware.

The chapter on finishing will provide the means to create a convincing antique finish, but a separate, comprehensive book on finishing and faking is also in the offing.

I hope to get underway with the first chest shortly and will preview it here on the blog.

JP

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About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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56 Responses to Book News

  1. confur says:

    Ah, your first name is Herbert !

    Like

  2. Joe M says:

    Jack…I’ll take (buy) two!!!! I’ve, like everone else i’m sure, waited a long time for you to begin this undertaking and can not wait for the finished product. Hope things are working out with the rebuilding/repair of the homestead and shop. We are all glad to see your back to posting….

    Like

  3. dzj9 says:

    I am looking forward to reading your books.
    I think the history behind these pieces would be just as interesting a read as the furniture reproduction part.
    Woodworkers are not that thick.

    Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ian Wells says:

    Very much looking forward to it, your explanations as to the historical or practical ‘why’ make the ‘how’ so much clearer. I’m sure it’ll be a great success.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m in for a copy! I’ve really been missing your blog posts. Hope you get everything sorted out with your home.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hughjengine says:

    Excellent! Chosen a publisher yet?

    Like

    • Jack Plane says:

      I haven’t made a final decision on a publisher as yet. Any recommendations?

      JP

      Like

      • R.Lindh says:

        Schiffer Publishing Ltd.,4880 Lower Valley Rd.Atglen,Pa.,USA……..Great publisher!Your subject matter is right up their line.Very well known.

        Like

      • hughjengine says:

        The Taunton Press, or GMC Publishing (Guild of Master Craftsmen) would be worth a look. Constable & Robinson publish some good independent stuff, likewise with Crowood Press in the UK. Lost Art Press have very good production quality. It is often easier and faster to deal with the smaller companies, although those in the UK won’t have ‘colour’ spelling issues. Of course, you could go one step further, cut out the middle-man and self-publish. Between selling directly, and with most online woodworking retailers carrying books in their range, add in some specialist booksellers and a few online mobs and you’d have a decent coverage of the market.

        Have any publishers made contact since you posted this news?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. R.Lindh says:

    Jack…Great news….Looking forward to the publications.

    Like

  8. FIG Woodworks says:

    looking forward to a good read

    Like

  9. homesy135 says:

    Jack, put me down for a copy, please. Can’t wait!

    Like

  10. I can’t wait! We’ve all been anticipating this announcement! Go for it, Jack!

    Like

  11. JimB says:

    Like everyone else, I can hardly wait. Over your career I assume that you’ve seen some horrendous restorations, it would be instructive if some of these could be included.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bill R says:

    Jack, cannot wait to purchase your book/books. I’m looking forward to seeing detailed descriptions of the construction techniques of each piece you describe, especially the chapter on finishing.

    Like

  13. Tim C says:

    Very glad to see that you’re getting up and running again. We’ve missed your posts.
    I’m eagerly looking forward to the book(s).
    I wish you the best of Irish luck in your dealings with the insurance companies. How is your good wife bearing up through all of this?
    Tim C

    Like

  14. Sylvain says:

    Welcome back Jack.
    When I discovered your blog I read all posts starting from the first one.
    I have no doubt your book(s) will be interesting.
    Sylvain

    Like

  15. JEP says:

    Jack, I am so sorry to read about the storm damage to the house. I have been an Adjuster here in the U.S. for over 30 years, but I work internationally from time to time as well. If you have any question on insurance and the adjustment process then drop me a note off line and I will see if I can answer any questions for you.

    As for the book, I think you have a great idea. You might also contact Chris Schwarz at Lost Art Press to see if he might be interested in publishing the book. This sounds like something they would jump at.

    Like

    • Jack Plane says:

      Thank you for the kind offer of assistance. If things proceed as they have been, I may well be in touch.
      Somebody else mentioned the Lost Art Press in an earlier post. I’ll investigate them too.

      JP

      Like

  16. Graham says:

    Fantastic news, your blog is one of my favourite resources for material on period furniture I’ve yet found and I can only imagine that this book will be a great read. I hope though that you will still write a larger series on furniture through the Ages (including the social history), I’m sure it would be a fantastic work to help understand the development and context of pieces as well as act as a reference work on the various periods.

    Like

  17. Kathy Pelly says:

    Jack, what a brilliant project. In an ideal world when can you see your planned book in print? I can’t wait either……i will do a bit of research for you within the publishing contacts i have. I think self publishing may be the answer if you get no joy elsewhere.

    Like

    • Jack Plane says:

      With the best of intentions, I can’t realistically see the book being published this year as each chest – with the amount of detail I intend to include – will take a couple of months to complete.

      I would prefer a UK publisher simply for the En English, so any and all recommendations would be welcome thank you. I’m not adverse to the idea of self publishing, but I’d want to do some more homework first.

      JP

      Like

  18. Laurin Davis says:

    Jack, glad to see that your situation is improving. Don’t forget to make use of all the fine material you’ve supplied on this web site over the years: You could easily create a book or two from it.

    Like

  19. D.B. Laney says:

    Glad to see you back in print.
    Dennis

    Like

  20. Paul K. Murphy says:

    I will buy your book. Your knowledge is always great to discover, and your humor is terrific. Promise that your book will include your familiar wry humor

    Like

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  22. Tim says:

    Put my name at the top of the list for your book!

    Like

  23. Kirk Rush says:

    Jack,
    In the book on finishing and faking, it would be nice for you to show period pieces that have been altered as well as outright fakes pointing out how to tell what has been done to them.
    Also, my goal in reproducing early furniture is to finish the pieces in such a manner that someone who is knowledgable about antiques would not easily recognize it as a reproduction. I would never try to fake a piece, but I like for them to blend in with a period setting. Thanks for all the information that you have shared with us.

    Kirk

    Like

    • Jack Plane says:

      Kirk, the difficulty with exposing fakes is that, by their very nature, they’re indistinguishable from the genuine article – many dealers and auction houses are fooled by them on a daily basis. Therefore, illustrating fakes in a book would be a difficult exercise.

      There are, of course, any number of badly made copies circulating, whose construction and finishes are laughable, but I wouldn’t give them the time of day.

      Even if dealers and auction houses would permit me to closely examine and photograph their stock, I now live far from the metropolis and no longer drive, so sourcing relevant images to illustrate shonky work would be a hurdle too high I’m afraid.

      One also has to remember that antique furniture styles, like the fashions of other consumer goods, go around in circles: Japanning and chinoiserie, for example, went through several revivals and the Victorians especially, were responsible for recreating ‘Carolean’ oak stools; ‘Chippendale’, ‘Hepplewhite’ and ‘Sheraton’ dining chairs; and ‘Georgian’ mahogany wing chairs etc. in their thousands to meet market demand for them. They weren’t manufactured as fakes, but are now antiques in their own right and often show considerable wear and tear similar to their earlier counterparts. Images in a book won’t always show what differentiates a Victorian copy from the real thing.

      And there’s nothing wrong with faking! Restorers do it every day (as do car refinishers) to blend damaged surfaces. Mind you, restorers are like artists; they are many and the vast majority will incite a remark like “That’s nice…”, but very few have the ability to take one’s breath away. Well actually, a good restorer’s work should be completely indiscernible.

      Commercially, I have made numerous fakes, though for legitimate reasons. I do feel responsible for those pieces of furniture as and when they change ownership (whether by accession or fraudulently) and for those reasons I sign each piece.

      In the book, I will likely mention what fakers and shonky dealers get up to so that readers will learn to accept nothing at face value. I must admit though, since a book on finishing first crossed my mind, I have struggled to define its parameters: I don’t want the book to be a manual for backstreet finishers and crooks.

      JP

      Like

  24. Tim Shaw says:

    This book will help Mankind! Write me down for a copy.

    Like

  25. Jim Pallas says:

    Jack
    How you present your descriptions of the when, why, how, and who are a great part of your work. The history of a method of work is just as interesting as the work itself. Did an idea stay? Or was it abandoned for something better or was it abandoned for speed? All those questions. You won’t be able to get all of that in one book. So you will have to write many. Good luck. I will be waiting for the first installment.
    Jim

    Like

  26. mike says:

    Jack, I have been wondering for years why you haven’t write a book when others with only a grain of salt of knowledge about woodworking have tons of them published. I’m a scrounge but have promised myself if you ever produce a book I’ll gladly pay whatever the asking pricing is. I beg you not to get discourage or sidetrack as I’m sure the book with be better than any book in the market in your genre. I’m also sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. cheers from Kiwiland

    Liked by 1 person

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  30. Gary Cook says:

    I am a graphic designer in the UK. When I have worked on book projects I have sometimes worked with one of the best book designers and creative directors in London, which is Mark Thomson at http://www.markthomsondesign.com/
    He is well-connected with all the major publishers and was also the creative director who oversaw the re-brand of Collins, a major UK publisher. His projects are always high-end, lavish books with superb attention to detail, paper stock, format and quality.
    I myself run a small website/blog called http://www.hackneytools.com and my graphic design work (mostly magazine work) is at http://www.cookdesign.co.uk . For my blog, I focus on traditional technique and tools and would love to be involved in the project.
    I would say the first port of call might be Mark, because of his huge experience in the area, he can no doubt advise on the best approach.
    best
    Gary Cook

    Like

  31. Tim Raleigh says:

    Great news…I am really looking forward to buying and reading your book…

    Like

  32. Tim Raleigh says:

    “I now live far from the metropolis and no longer drive”
    Really! Hopefully it’s not because of any physical ailments.
    On the other hand if there is someone who is happy to chauffeur you to and fro all the better…

    Like

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  34. Sign me up for 2 copies of every book.

    Cheers,

    FR

    Like

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