I had two goals for the night. No, three. One: Eat some good pizza. Two, seal the deal with Bickford to publish his forthcoming book on moulding planes (stay very tuned). And three, try to open the door with Follansbee so he might publish something with Lost Art Press some day.
My strategy: Get Follansbee totally high on beer and animal-flesh pizza.
Then Peter notified me in a kind way that he neither drinks nor eats animals.
Somehow I was able to keep his attention during the meal and make my case for the way we publish books at Lost Art Press. It’s really quite bass-ackwards compared to the rest of the publishing industry, but that’s not the point of this story.
Within a month or so, we’d made a deal to publish the long-awaited follow-up to John Alexander’s “Make a Chair from a Tree.” This new book, “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree,” had been in the works for more than 20 years. Follansbee and Alexander (now Jennie Alexander) have been corresponding and visiting and traveling together for more than two decades to piece together how furniture was built in the 17th century.
When I entered the picture last year they had a preliminary manuscript and photos that spanned the years.
So the question at hand was: Could this be a book?
The answer: Holy cow. Absolutely.
“Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” is like no other woodworking book ever published. It breaks new ground with every page. It shows you things you’ve never seen before. It will change the way you think about wood and woodworking.
Follansbee and Alexander are as unlikely a pair as you will ever find. Alexander is a retired attorney who has been working wood as an enthusiastic woodworking amateur for a lifetime. Alexander’s first book, “Make a Chair from a Tree,” is a certifiable cult classic. Long out of print for reasons too insane to go into here, the book has inspired generations of woodworkers, including people like Brian Boggs, to become woodworkers.
It is almost impossible to overstate the influence of that book.
Follansbee was Alexander’s student who sold all his power tools and became a professional hand-tool joiner at Plimoth Plantation. He was a terminally shy man who became one of the most engaging public speakers I’ve ever seen.
Their work together has produced a book that we hope will be in print forever. The first printing is in the works now and will be shipping at the end of February. It is a different kind of book for Lost Art Press. It is oversized (9” x 12”), in full color and with a heavy dust jacket.
It’s is being printed at a high-end publisher in Michigan as I type, and it is going to cost some serious coin for us to make when compared to the printers in Hong Kong.
But we figured: What the heck? We might have only one chance to do this right so we might as well go all the way.
You can read more about the book in our store by following this link. If you order the book before the release date of Feb. 27 we will pick up the shipping cost. Some people would call that “free shipping for pre-orders,” but not us. What’s a pre-order?
One last thing: I hate to sound like a tool, but you might want to order now. In the last 24 hours we have sold one-third of the first press run.
Order “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” for $43 with free domestic shipping.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. Other retailers that will be carrying this book include Lee Valley Tools, Tools for Working Wood, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and ShopWoodworking.com – the store of F+W Media. We’ll announce more outlets as they sign on.