After a flurry of holiday and reprint-related work, we’re finally back to working on the third edition of Jennie Alexander’s “Make a Chair from a Tree.”
Peter Follansbee has shot all the supplemental pictures we needed, and Brendan Gaffney has delivered new illustrations executed under Peter’s guidance. I’ve begun inserting those images into the layouts today and expect to be finished with that by Monday. And while I awaited those images, I read through the text (that Larry Barrett and Peter pulled together from Jennie’s manuscript) again to identify any final questions that need answering before we can call the book ready for review.
Then I’ll give it another read – what I call the “dumb-ass read” – after those questions are answered and everything is laid out. I won’t feel comfortable passing it off to Christopher Schwarz for review until that’s done. That final read is something I used to do for every how-to article in the magazine (with varying degrees of “dumb ass” in mind). If it were a beginner article, which this book is in effect meant to be, I tried to clear my mind of all but the most basic of woodworking knowledge. (I don’t mean to say that all beginning woodworkers are dumb asses…just that I certainly was when I started.)
So for MACFAT, I’ll need to read as if I’m building my first greenwood chair. That is, I’ll allow myself dumb-ass self to know what a mortise is, though this fictional self has never cut such a tiny one with a 1/8″ mortise chisel. This fictional self knows what a drawknife is, but has never used one for more than making a few shavings for fun. And this fictional self probably doesn’t own a shaving horse. Yet.
With that mindset, can I build this chair in my head? Do I understand not only the how, but the why? Is there critical information missing that I can’t easily intuit from what isn’t missing? I don’t need to be spoon fed every crumb of information, but I do need to be able to figure things out without descending into teeth gnashing and cursing the author/editor.
After that read (and any resulting changes), Chris will read through it and point out (nicely, of course) any dumb-ass mistakes that I missed (in either editing or design…or both); after those get addressed, it will be ready for copy edit.
So in short, the third edition of “Make a Chair from a Tree” will likely be the first new Lost Art Press book in 2021 to go to the printer. That’s a pretty good way to start off the year! (We don’t have information on when we will open pre-ordering or what the retail price will be. We hope that all of our retailers will carry it – though that is up to each retailer – of course.)
P.S. Jennie’s great video “Make a Chair From a Tree” is available now in our store.
17 thoughts on “Almost Ready for a ‘Dumb-ass’ Read”
What you are describing here is something I am very aware – and wary – of, both as a consumer and (sometime) producer of instructions and information: the huge difficulty of not taking our own previous knowledge as read when explaining something!
It can be a surprisingly fine line to tread between being too basic (which can even have the averse effect of alienating your audience – “do they think I’m a moron who wouldn’t even know that?!”) and leaving out essential information. Not to forget that just the right amount of difficulty put into the reader’s path may even be appreciated, by making them feel clever for figuring it out …
So kudos for being aware of it and for taking on the challenge! I don’t think any (or at least not many) of us ever get it pitch perfect, but taking the trouble to try goes a really long way in the right direction. Not that I am surprised that that would happen at LAP (“What? They aim for quality? Who’d a thought?”) but ’tis nevertheless duly noted and much appreciated!
We looking forward to have it. We are just out of stock of the last version. So we will order this new version as soon we can.
Thanks for keeping this sort of knowledge alive. We lose so much as people pass on.
Yay! I’ve always found that really excellent writers can give “dumbass” background information without making it seem dumbed-down. But it’s a rare gift.
Growing up, the “polite” euphemism for pretending to be a dumbass was to play Mickey the Dunce.
I have only seen the MACFAT video and the way Jennie describes all the steps made me feel calm and sure that I could make a chair one day. I know for fact reading all this years your blog and your books (I mean all of you in LAP – also waiting your book Fitz) i know for sure ,for me that i haven’t yet make any furniture (just spoons) ,it will be a comprehensive guide and great book for amateurs like me.
Having never read the original editions, having never watched the MACFAT video, and having never made a chair, I could be your “DA for a Day” and add another proof read to the repertoire.
Been patiently awaiting this one.
And all this time I thought the MACFAT was the new burger at McDs.
Okay look Fitz I’m a dumbass further more an old dumbass. So keep that in mind .
Thanks in advance because dumbasses mater cuz they buy shit. Just saying.
Been looking forward to this one for a while!
Would love to watch the MACFAT DVD, but I do not own a DVD player straight up Apple house here. Any plans to make it available as a digital download.
It is a digital download.
Oops my bad I just saw the “Lost Art Press / DVD” heading with no option for streaming and assumed it was a DVD only. I should have read the description below. Do you even sale DVDs anymore? You might consider changing your heading to “Lost Art Press / Videos or Streaming.
The genius of Lost Art Press has been to teach. Teaching is an exercise in patience, and the correct balance in detail.
When a beginner picks up a book for instruction, he/she needs to know every step and how to accomplish it.
If the lesson is about building inlays, the author is safe to assume that the reader understands sharpening and use of a plane but not the unique details of building the inlay piece. It’s that assumption, that balance, that makes or breaks a teaching book.
I have every confidence that Chris and Fitz will continue to balance detail, such that makes their books so special.
I would so love a copy of 3rd Edition. If it wasn’t the pandemic I’d say let’s have a launch party!
Fitz – I can hardly wait. As a matter of fact I couldn’t. But I’ll still buy this when it comes out. Last year about this time I wanted to make this chair so bad I signed up for one of Brendan’s classes but when COVID hit everything got postponed. Not able to wait any longer I bought the video version and watched it about 20 times until I could make my own jigs. I made 6 chairs for our kitchen as my COVID therapy. These chairs are incredible and should be a rite of passage for every woodworker. Light, comfortable, and gives you practice at many skills most woodworkers don’t play with every day like shave horses, drawknives and steam bending. I even found the seat eaving incredible fun. I did mine in fiber rush.
You might enjoy this: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/03/insider/editor-errors-corrections.html?action=click&algo=bandit-all-surfaces_desk_filter&block=editors_picks_recirc&fellback=false&imp_id=805225225&impression_id=3d897631-4e93-11eb-8fb6-09ff18ada34d&index=1&pgtype=Article®ion=footer&req_id=959099053&surface=home-featured&variant=3_bandit-all-surfaces_desk_filter_dedup
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