“The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” is a short book written by an anonymous tradesman; it was first published in 1839. It tells the fictional tale of Thomas, a lad of 13 or 14 who is apprenticed to a rural shop, that builds everything from built-ins to more elaborate veneered casework. The book was written to guide young people who might be considering a life in the joinery or cabinetmaking trades, and every page is filled with surprises.
Unlike other woodworking books of the time, “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” focuses on how apprentices can obtain the basic skills needed to work in a hand-tool shop. It begins with Thomas tending the fire to keep the hide glue warm, and it details how he learns stock preparation, many forms of joinery and casework construction. It ends with Thomas building a veneered mahogany chest of drawers that is French polished. However, this is not a book for children. It is a book for anyone exploring hand-tool woodworking.
Even more delightful is that Thomas builds three projects during the course of his journey in the book, and there is enough detail in the text and illustrations to re-create these three projects just as they were built in 1839.
When Lost Art Press published the expanded edition* of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” in 2011, a teacher of autistic students approached LAP about an audiobook of the original 1839 text to help teach craft history. Their students weren’t able to read the book, but they could listen to it. So we asked the inimitable Roy Underhill to help us out. He brought not only his hand-tool knowledge but his excellent thespian training to the project.
Why don’t we offer audiobooks of more of our books? Well, they are the posters of our aural world…which is to say this one made no money. Was it worthwhile? Absolutely – it helped an underserved audience of students. But it took a lot of investment of various resources, and we do have lots of cats to keep in kibble.
But because the audiobook made almost no money, we’ve decided to now offer it free to blog readers. You can download the 22 zipped mp3 files below for 125 minutes of listening pleasure. When you click the button below, the file will likely go directly to you “downloads” folder. (Yes, we are sure the link works; we have checked it a dozen times.)
*The expanded edition of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” includes not only the original text, but a historical snapshot of England in the early 19th century by Joel Moskowitz, and chapters on building the three projects (a Packing Box, a dovetailed Schoolbox and a Chest of Drawers), plus complete plans, from Christopher Schwarz.