If you’ve attended classes at Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s School, you might have noticed a printout of a book cover that’s tacked to the back wall – behind the coffeemaker and next to the poster of the Barnes foot-powered machines.
“That,” Roy tells students, “is the cover to my novel.”
Most people don’t know if Roy is joking about the novel or not. He is, after all, apt to sprinkle his live routines with tales of his “uncle,” who was a “radio woodworker.”
But the novel is real. And I’ve read it many times.
Roy spent several years of his life carefully crafting a 1930s-era novel titled “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” – a novel with measured drawings – that combines his love of history, woodworking, Washington, D.C., and a good story. But like many first-time novels, it has remained on a shelf gathering dust.
After twisting his arm, Roy passed me (and Megan Fitzpatrick) the manuscript several years ago. We both loved the story. It is a screwball comedy about a government bureaucrat who studies manure spreaders who then lands the unlikely job as a radio woodworker. While “Calvin Cobb” makes me laugh on almost every page, it also raises troubling questions about the fraudulent way some of us interpret history. And it has some great woodworking parts.
Unlike a traditional novel, this one has measured drawings that play an important role in the plot. I know you’ll want to build some of these projects – I do – and you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading “Calvin Cobb – Radio Woodworker!” – a novel with measured drawings.
That’s because Lost Art Press is thrilled to announce that we’ll be publishing this novel in late 2014. It will be illustrated – like a Hardy Boys book – and will indeed feature measured drawings and have the look and feel of a high-quality 1930s novel (but on acid-free paper).
I’ll be blogging about this book (it’s impossible not to). But Megan Fitzpatrick will also be blogging about it here. That’s because she is the primary editor on this book and will be lending her literary talents to the books as she polishes it for publication.
One final note: Yes, we know this is a bit crazy to publish a woodworking novel. With measured drawings. And high-quality domestic manufacturing. Absolutely nothing about that equation makes economic sense. But we love this book – and that sort of gut feeling hasn’t failed us a single time in our five years.
— Christopher Schwarz