Chris had been studying A.-J. Roubo’s writings for years, but lately there was something strange about the three volumes. He couldn’t put his finger on it; sometimes he thought he heard voices near the books. It was creepy and unsettling and he had avoided the books for several days. His fascination overrode any unease he felt and soon he was back on the couch poring over all those cool plates of tools and furniture. The tiny voices he heard had to be his imagination.
“Cool,” he exclaimed as got to the series of plates showing 18th-century coaches. “These are so cool!” He heard a murmur coming from the book. “No, it’s just my imagination.” As he turned a few more pages and said a few more “cools,” the murmuring grew louder. It seemed to be coming from the plates showing chairs. Chris leaned close to the book and was astonished to hear a heated conversation.
“How many times can a human say ‘cool’ in the space of one hour?”
“He could try ‘remarkable,’ ‘wonderful’ or ‘extraordinary.’ We only get ‘cool!’”
“He is the ass of a Jacques!”
“I think it is said that he is Jacques’ ass.”
Chris flipped quickly to the plates featuring chairs. “What? These plates shouldn’t be side-by-side!”
He was met with pages of complaints about his overuse of “cool.”
“But you are cool, so very cool. I can’t help myself,” he tried to explain. The chairs, and some of the other furniture, were not listening.
“We can’t take it anymore!” they shouted back. “We want out!”
“You want out?” Chris roared back. “I have been protecting you – admiring you – and you want out AND you call me an ass of a Jacques?! I’ll give you out!”
And with that he held the book upside down and shook it. There was a cacophony of shrieks as the tiny furniture fell from the book.
Coming to his senses, Chris stopped shaking the book and exclaimed, “What have I done? Have I ruined them? I’ll put them back and everything will be all right.” He put the book down and looking at the floor saw none of the tiny chairs or tables. “Where are they? They were there. They yelled at me and called me the ass of a Jacques. It was real, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?” He stood stunned not able to comprehend what had happened. Chris ran from the room.
“That was fun. We haven’t been out of the book in decades!”
Roy Underhill’s woodworking novel – “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” – is now available for pre-publication ordering in the Lost Art Press store. The book will begin shipping on Nov. 10, and we are offering free shipping on all orders placed before Nov. 29, 2014.
The hardbound book is $29. The ePub version is $14. You can purchase both the hardbound version and the ePub for $36. If you order the ePub, you will receive your download immediately (in other words, you can begin reading the book today).
Go here to order the book. Or read on for more information on this unusual woodworking book.
What is That? The first time I heard Roy had written a woodworking novel was when I visited his school in Pittsboro, N.C. Stuck to the corkboard above the school’s coffeemaker was a book cover that looked like something from the 1930s. The cover featured a redhead holding a handsaw, plus a dude holding a handplane and an armload of cash.
“What’s that?” I asked Roy.
“That’s the cover to my novel,” he replied.
Now Roy has a reputation for practical jokery. So rather than swallowing that piece of stink bait I just said something like, “Uhh….”
During the next few years of working with Roy, the topic of his novel came up several times, and I eventually asked him, “Is that real?”
He said it was, and that he even had a manuscript to prove it. Under a little duress, he found a battered, marked-up copy in his office. He explained that he had spent several years writing and polishing “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” but had set it aside when he didn’t get much interest from the big publishers.
I asked if I could borrow the manuscript. And that was what launched this multi-year project.
I know it’s a bit crazy to publish a woodworking novel with measured drawings. But this book is a jewel – well-written, fast-paced and simply funny. And with lots of juicy woodworking parts (and, yes, measured drawings for four projects). You can read the book’s plot description in our store, so I won’t repeat it here.
But allow me to answer a few questions that people have asked me about this book.
Will I learn any woodworking techniques? Maybe? There are a few good descriptions of work in the novel, but the point of the book isn’t to help you cut a better tenon. It’s to entertain you and perhaps think a bit differently about your world.
Is it appropriate for kids? Let’s just say that I’m not the best parent. I would let my 13-year-old read this book – no problem. I’d say it’s PG-13 for mild language and adult situations. It’s not “Dick & Jane,” nor is it “50 Shades of Wood.” I’d also say that if you are easily offended by stuff on television, then Lost Art Press books and this blog are not written for you.
Measured drawings, really? Really. They are key to the plot. Really.
Roy writes fiction? Yes, and very well. And to make sure this book has all the polish of novel from a major publisher, we hired Megan Fitzpatrick, a veritable fiction maven, to edit Roy’s book. We are all very proud of the result.
Thanks to everyone who has sent tools and money for the 18 new hand-tool woodworkers I’ll be teaching at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking next year.
Your tax-deductible donations have already paid for five (almost six) of the students. And the donated tools are piling up on my workbench in the sunroom. I haven’t counted everything yet (and I still have three boxes to open today). But I can say that we are set on mallets and coping saws – more on that point at a future date.
If you haven’t heard about this heavily discounted course that I’m teaching in the United States and England in 2015, go here. If you are interested in donating tools or money to the effort, you can read about that here.
I have had a lot of questions about the class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in particular because it has not opened for registration yet. Registration for the general public begins on Dec. 1. If you wish to read the course description and get information on registering, fill out the contact form here and opt in for the school’s newsletter. They’ll send you the 2015 schedule and registration information.