For those of us with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about traditional American tools and furniture, there is one name that makes us all tip our hats: Charles F. Hummel of Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
Hummel’s impressive career as a champion for American decorative arts – as a scholar, lecturer and author – are the shoulders that many furniture-makers, researchers and historians have stood upon for the last five decades.
You can read a brief synopsis of Hummel’s achievements here at Winterthur’s web site.
For hand-tool woodworkers, Hummel was one of the first to eschew romantic prose about craftsmanship and rely on scholarship as he documented the history of the Dominy workshop in his groundbreaking book “With Hammer in Hand.”
This book, more than any other before it, sketched a portrait of an early American hand-tool shop as a business and not as a quaint and faded painting of days gone by. Hummel pored over the ledgers of the Dominy family and had access to the entire shop (it was moved to Winterthur and is now on display) plus many Dominy pieces, which are also on display at Winterthur. (Psst, go visit Winterthur.)
So I was delighted and simultaneously terrified to see that Mr. Hummel had written a review of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” by Jennie Alexander and Peter Follansbee for the latest edition of “American Furniture,” the annual publication of the Chipstone Foundation that is edited by Luke Beckerdite.
In his review, Hummel praised “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” throughout the long-form review: “To this reviewer, Alexander and Follansbee’s collaboration results in one of the best ‘how-to-do-it’ books of the last and present century.”
Hummel goes on to state that the book is ideal for woodworkers and that: “The authors also do a great service to collectors of furniture, historians of material culture and of technology, and furniture scholars…. Their book deserves to be on the shelves of everyone interested in nonmachine-made woodwork.”
I could not agree more. “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” is a true labor of love that required decades of work, the construction of innumerable joint stools and trips all over the world to complete. We were honored to publish this book and are gratified by Mr Hummel’s review.
The first edition of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” is available in our store and from the other fine retailers who stock our books.
— Christopher Schwarz