Finally, a Printing of Nicholson Worth Buying

MCOnlineCover_360xPeter Nicholson’s “The Mechanic’s Companion” is one of the landmark English-language books on woodworking (plus carpentry, blacksmithing and other allied trades). But the current versions available to read are hard to recommend:

  1. The Google Books version is free, and it’s a great place to get a taste of Nicholson’s clear instructions and insights into traditional hand-tool woodworking. I, however, can’t stand to read books on a screen.
  2. An original 19th-century printing of the book is expensive. I paid about $300 for my copy many years back, and it’s binding is barely holding together. This, however, is my current go-to version when researching.
  3. There are “print-on-demand” (POD) versions of the book. Some of these are just printouts of the Google Books version (and entirely suck). Other POD versions feature pages that have been cleaned up. These are better, but they fall apart with just a little use. Print-on-demand technology is good for some things, but not a classic text.

Now Megan Fitzpatrick is offering a proper version of “Mechanic’s Companion” that is about the same price as a print-on-demand book but is printed on modern domestic offset printing presses and features a sewn binding and a hardcover.

This is the Nicholson book I’ve always wanted to be able to recommend. (You can place a pre-publication order here – it’s just $34, which includes domestic shipping.)

Some of the specifications for this book might seem familiar to Lost Art Press customers. That’s because we shared our technical manufacturing expertise with Megan so she could create this book at a reasonable cost to you. She is doing this with our blessing.

When we reprint books, such as the Stanley No. 34 catalogue, we use a special scanning regimen that results in a book that is all-but indistinguishable from the original. Most POD books feature jagged text and line art. This is one of our few trade secrets, and we shared it with Megan so she could make this book.

Not that we did any of the heavy lifting. Megan spent more than 100 hours scanning my original copy of Nicholson and then cleaning each page individually. She removed the “foxing” from every page and rebuilt many broken letters and words, pixel by pixel.

If you’ve always wanted a fine copy of Nicholson, this is your chance. Or if you don’t know much about Nicholson but like to support independent publishers, this is also your chance.

Highly, highly recommended.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Why didn’t Lost Art Press publish this title? Frankly, we have our hands completely full with newly written books. We welcome this (and other) high-quality reprints.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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15 Responses to Finally, a Printing of Nicholson Worth Buying

  1. calebjamesplanemaker says:

    I got my order in. I not only wanted this high quality reprint but I also want to see Megan get off to a great start with her new endeavor. All the best Megan! 🙂



  2. Wait a minute… Megan started a publishing business? And she’s going to be editor of “The Chronicle” over at the Early American Industries Association? (That’s what I found when I clicked on the link above.) As a long-time fan of Fitzpatrick, let me be the first to say “Way to go!” 🙂


  3. Richard Mahler says:

    I just purchased a G.W. Cottrell, Boston, clothbound volume, about 1850 (but not indicated), excellent condition with no foxing but a few pages loose of stitching; as a bookbinder and restorer it is nothing I cannot correct. Having this copy will not prevent me buying Megan’s volume!


  4. Finn Koefoed-Nielsen says:

    People who make sure there are books in the world are good people.


  5. Richg says:

    I already order it from Megan looking forward to adding it to my already large collection of LAP books. Should be a great read.. Thank you all for the effort..


  6. don2laughs says:

    Ordered mine 20 days ago! Looking forward! So happy to see Megan blossom in her freedom!!


  7. Bert Vanderveen says:

    Well, as a trained graphic designer I feel that doing a facsimile by scanning an original has its uses, but for more ephemeral works (let’s be real here — his is not an invaluable manuscript) I think that resetting the text in combination with processed high resolution scans of the illustrations is the way to go. That should take less time to do and extends the usefulness of the product (how about searching in the pdf?).
    OTOH — I am becoming more and more aggravated by the lack of international shipping. Your European distributors are way behind re the more recent titles (not to mention the lacking possibility of being able to pre-order. You should seek a better way to address this problem, eg a fulfilment centre over here. If I had more warehouse space (to be clear: I don’t have any at all) I would be tempted to offer my services…


    • Hi Bert,

      We do both facsimilie and resetting.

      I prefer a high-quality facsimilie when the typography itself is beautiful, such as in Nicholson or Moxon. Trying to reproduce that look always fails. I prefer resetting when we can improve upon the look of the pages.

      On international sales: We offer our entire catalog to our international sellers:

      There is no way a tiny publishing company like us has the resources to have a distribution center overseas. We can barely afford the one in the United States. So I’m afraid to say that won’t be changing anytime soon.

      All best,



      • Chris F says:

        That works fine for the normal edition books, but none of the AUS retailers offer anything that’s limited edition or pre-order like the chore coat. I’m still puzzled as to why every other small tool retailer in the US offers international shipping but you don’t. It’s your business and your choice, but it seems like a really odd one for a manufacturer to make. I’m dissapointed that Megan is making the same choice with her business.


    • Simon Stucki says:

      have you tried, they are quite quick when it comes to new books, prices are great and shipping is affordable!


    • I think all 3 of the europeen retailer, Classic hand tools, Dictum and Rubank Verktygs ( try to have the books as fast as possible. We at Rubank Verktygs order so soon we can and usaly have the books just a few weeks after they are realesed.
      As of Meghans new book, it will not be realesed until this summer.


  8. Roland Stewart Chapman says:

    Can it be posted to Oz ?


  9. charlesinsea says:

    For those that are desperate to get products only available from LAP directly and who live overseas, there are a number of package forwarding companies easily found online. A quick look at one gave me a little sticker shock (~40USD for shipping to the UK) but if its a unique product or you need it right now, it’d be worth looking into.


  10. Dan Beck says:

    I’ve taxed my eyeballs trying to read the google books version of this impressive and mandatory tome, so I am very glad to see that Megan is offering a proper print version. I will def be ordering this soon!


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