You can now place a pre-publication order for “Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown” by Christopher Williams. The book is $49 and will ship in March 2020. If you order before that date, you will receive a free pdf download of the book at checkout.
The book is in three major parts. One part is a biography of John Brown, one of the most influential woodworking writers and chairmakers of the 20th century. It is one part philosophical treatise and features 19 of John Brown’s best columns from Good Woodworking magazine. And it is one part straight-up woodworking book, with Chris showing you how he and John Brown built Welsh stick chairs using simple hand tools and straightforward techniques.
The book represents four years of difficult (and expensive) work, both here in the States and in Wales. It features essays from the people who worked with John Brown and lived with him – including David and Anne Sears at Pantry Fields and toolmaker Matty Sears. The book is filled with many never-before-seen historical photos of Welsh stick chairs and where they were made. We also commissioned original linocuts to illustrate the book from Molly Brown, one of John Brown’s daughters. And there are many new and gorgeous photos of stick chairs from Heather Birnie.
We matched the hard work on the editorial side with excellent materials and high-end publishing techniques. The full-color interior pages are heavy and coated with a matte finish that makes them readable in any almost light. The binding is casebound – the signatures are stitched, taped and glued to last as long as possible. I know of no better binding. We wrap the book block with heavy, 98 pt. hard boards. The hinge is made with a custom endsheet. The exterior is charcoal cotton cloth with a silver diestamp. The dustjacket is a tear-resistant paper with a matte laminate. (I know these technical specs bore some customers, but there’s a reason most publishers don’t release them….)
Of course, all production and printing is in the United States.
In the coming weeks we’ll release an excerpt of the book for people who aren’t sure about “Good Work.”
As always, we don’t know which of our retailers will carry “Good Work.” It is their call, not ours. If you want your local retailer to carry it, let them know. This works surprisingly well.
And finally, a note of thanks to everyone who helped this book along its way. John Brown’s extended family and his friends were generous with their time and effort. People such as Drew Langsner supplied important background material and a wealth of photos. And many of you offered encouragement and advice – most of it great. And thanks, most of all to Chris. He embarked on this book – his first – with the desire to get it right and honor his mentor, no matter where that journey took him.
You can place a pre-publication order here.
— Christopher Schwarz
30 thoughts on “Order ‘Good Work: The Chairmaking Life of John Brown’”
HI Chis and Chris,
Is the pic of the single chair above the one built in the book, cuz…dang!
I’ve only had time to quickly scroll through the PDF, but the photos alone make the book a worthwhile purchase. I’m looking forward to seeing the printed version, and in using the book as a guide for my 1st chair build.
Looks like it will be a good one! A couple questions though.
1. Will there be a-lot of overlap with this book and “Welsh Stick Chairs”?
2. Is the lino cut of that adze accurate? If so is the junction better/ worse than a standard eye?
1. There is almost zero overlap between the books.
2. The adze shown is based on an African tool. The head can be removed for sharpening. It is made by Matty Sears (one of John Brown’s sons). I wrote about it here:
I”ve been making these adzes with this unusual connection fo over 30 years and have never had issue with the tapered flange connection. I have two types and length of handle for one adze head and change them out depending on how I am working with the tool. The handle is taped in and out and tightens in place with use.
I was in Port Townsend today to pick up some walnut for a customer project and stopped in an antique store and there it was a Welsh stick chair. it looked like it was made by the 10 year old son of a farmer over a 100 years ago with an axe as his only tool. I wish I had taken a pic cause it was rough looking I may go back soon to take that pic. I need to thank you for all the work you do on the history of woodworking and the appreciation of the same. anyway it was a beautiful chair because of all its repairs and out of sorts shape because of its age and everyday use.
Ordered my copy and pdf an hour or so ago.
I have spent the hour carefully skimming the book. What a wonderful weekend I am looking forward to, here in snowy and cold Iowa, reading this really swell book. Many thanks to Chris Schwarz, and all who worked on this masterpiece!
What is the reality of someone learning to make a chair like that from a book? Do you think it’s feasible? Possibly with some accompanying video for the difficult parts? I’ve built larger furniture, cabinets, tables, hutches, but chairs seem on another level. And the local well known chair maker’s classes are thousands of dollars.
As Chris points out in the book, he built his first chair with only the instruction in “Welsh Stick Chairs,” which is essentially a photo essay. Many of the original chairs were built with zero instruction – they were farmers with tools.
I honestly think anyone can build one of these chairs if they set their mind to it. There aren’t a lot of specialty tools required. No steambending. No shavehorse. No green wood. No tapered reamers or tapered tenon cutters.
The barriers, therefore, are mostly in our minds.
Great news about the book and what a superhuman effort to produce this important book.
Do you know of any UK retailer who would honour the ‘pre-order and get a pdf as well‘ offer?
I am afraid not. We have tried a few times to set up a similar program for our retailers, but it has never happened.
Thanks for the reply.
I’ll just have to wait until it arrives in the UK.
I just ordered the book. I live in Norway. I use a mail forwarding service to get a US address for the order. Works every time and costs about zip/nada. Recommended!
Could you by any chance say which mail escrow service you’ve been using? There are a number of them, so it would be very interesting to know if it is with a specific one that you have had a good experience … Or, if you’d rather not give such recommendations here and, as it were, provide publicity for a third party company on someone else’s blog, would it be OK if I dropped you a line by e-mail?
Many thanks in advance and kind regards,
No problem, Mattias. I use myus.com. No particular reason for that and #neversponsored, but they´re cheap, fast and easy to use. I have used them for several items from LAP that normally were not distributed to Europe, such as the chore coat and Welsh Stick Chairs that was first limited to a US distribution. Good luck! Feel free to email me any time if I can assist you further. My email is email@example.com
Thank you very much indeed, Klaus – or should I say, tack så mycket – det är verkligen uppskattat!
Hej! Är ni svensk? Vad kul! Jeg er norsk! Bare hyggelig å kunne hjelpe!
web site is acting funky. Tried to buy the book. Put in e-mail, it sends code, I type in code, it spins and gives me the type in e-mail page. I know it is close to ground hog day but…
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will help.
Ordered, happily. Haven’t had a chance to so much as glance at it yet. Frozen pipes. I hate plumbng.
Loved Welsh Stick Chairs. Physical details don’t bore me. I appreciate that LAP books are as comfortable conversation starters on the coffee table as they are attracting dust in my shop.
Super excited! Can’t wait to start on it tonight!
I just preordered the book and couldn´t wait to open the PDF, but when I started scrolling from the top I immediately felt an aversion to keep on reading. I didn´t want the book to end. I have never been a pleasure delayer, but I had the same feeling with Welsh Stick Chairs. A strong urge to read it, but at the same time a fear of getting done with it too quickly!
Funny, Klaus, I felt the same when I just downloaded it. And I was tempted to go to the end, but stopped myself as I want to read the book the way it has been written. What a journey this has been, enjoy the book and more to come!
Haha, good to hear, Kevin! Enjoy the book, you too! I saw your name in the foreword, by the way. Didn´t know you were involved!
I was interested in producing a few of the items from your Campaign Furniture Book and selling them. What are the legal ramifications here – should I pay you a bit from every piece sold, or a percentage? I want to do what is right, but I am unsure.
Sell away. You don’t owe me anything.
Here’s my policy on books bearing my name.
Thought this might be relevant to the discussion.
Greetings from (brrr!) Canada
“A chair is never just a chair: A social history of a ubiquitous household item, Part 1”
I had no idea that John Brown was involved in John Seymour’s book about the Forgotten Crafts, as explained in the preface. That book was my entry into self-sufficiency, woodworking and an interest in so many old ways of doing things. I received it as a Christmas gift from my dad when I was just starting out on my own, I never heard of John Brown until Chris started writing about him, but it turns out that he was one of the original inspirations for doing things with wood. (Chris has been the inspiration to do so much more .) Can’t wait to read this entire book.
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