Peter 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.