The good news: “James Krenov: Leave Fingerprints,” Brendan Bernhardt Gaffney’s biography of one of the 20th century’s most influential woodworkers, is almost two weeks early. It’s shipping right now from the printer in Tennessee to the warehouse in Indiana.
So the bad news: The pre-publication special – the hardcover book plus a free copy of the PDF – ends at midnight Friday (EST). If you order before then, you get the book plus the pdf for $44. On Saturday, the hardcover book alone will be $44; the book and the PDF together will be $55.
When will yours arrive? The warehouse is typically quick to fill the pre-publication orders, so it should be soon after the books arrive; be on the lookout for an email in the next week or so with shipping information. And as always, if you think there’s a problem with your order, please don’t post a comment here – send an email to email@example.com for far quicker assistance.
If you have a number of oak logs to choose from, then you can go through the checklist of factors that affect the work ahead. Once you find a straight-grained log that’s nice and even with little or no taper, has a centered pith in a mostly round shape, and no twist in the bark – then you’re ready to work that log. But there’s one more thing. You can go even further and look at the rate of growth in the tree’s annular rings. Fast-growing oak has widely spaced annular rings, sometimes up to 1/4″ per year (see fig. 3.3, above). This timber is exceedingly strong because it has fewer rings, which creates a great concentration of the dense latewood that grows in the summer. But the resulting timber is visually distracting. Its radial face comes out looking heavily striped. It can also be difficult to work; it has an uneven texture resulting from the widely spaced transitions between the earlywood and latewood.
The slow-grown oak (see fig. 3.4, below) is more even textured, both visually and for working. While technically weaker than its fast-grown counterpart, slow-grown oak is still well suited for joined work. This furniture is grossly overbuilt by stress standards, so the decrease in strength is not a factor. The benefit is the consistent texture, ease of working and a closer visual match to the timber used in 17th-century work done in New England. You can’t always get what you want, but if you are faced with two otherwise evenly matched logs, try the one that grew more slowly. The only thing better than riven radial oak is slow-grown riven radial oak.