Many of the visitors to our shop spend more time checking out the books in the back than the books in the front. In front are all the books Lost Art Press publishes (along with our Crucible Tool offerings). In back is what we call the Covington Mechanical Library – the very large and overfull floor to ceiling bookcase that holds most of the furniture reference books we use, along with a few backup tools, a very few collectibles and Mr. Chirpy (a mechanical bird that chirps when you walk by the embedded motion sensor). Most of the books are grouped together in a loose conglomeration of like subjects. There are, for example, sections on chairmaking and chairs, Shaker furniture, campaign furniture, etc. (And there are many books that could go in more than one section – and sometimes they change section – or whole sections move – without me knowing it’s happened. I blame the cats.)
And because not everyone can visit us (which is probably for the best, as we’d never get anything done if they could!), I’m going to go through the various bays in our bookcase and share with you what’s there (and I might divide some of the larger bays into smaller sections). There is no set schedule – but it will always be on Sundays.
To ease us in, I’ll start with The History of C. Schwarz in Woodworking Publishing section. In it are bound volumes of Popular Woodworking Magazine from 1997 when Chris started at the magazine through the year F+W Media stopped offering bound volumes, 2007. But Chris, who is the most hyper-organized person I know, also clipped every article he wrote and kept them in binders – those are alongside the bound volumes. (“Those are clips for when I got fired,” he says. Ever the optimist.)
There is also a copy of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” from the first press run (it’s the book that let him quit as editor of PWM before he got fired), and a leather-bound volume from that same printing. Alongside that are three copies of his “Anarchist’s Design Book,” one from the first press run, one from the first press run of the revised edition (with the red ribbon)…and one that’s been lopped off at the front edge and bottom, for those who complain that the three Anarchist’s titles are different sizes. Tucked amongst them is a black-cloth-clad ATC (it’s the 11th printing…which may or may not be the first black cover. We’re old and can’t remember). Then two copies of “The Anarchist’s Workbench” – one with black debossed type and cover art, one with white (the first and second printings.) There is also a copy of Nancy R. Hiller’s “Making Things Work” from our first press run of her book – because it belongs in this super-special-to-us section.
35 thoughts on “Covington Mechanical Library: Week 1”
“And because not everyone can visit us (which is probably for the best, as we’d never get anything done if they could!), I’m going to go through the various bays in our bookcase and share with you what’s there (and I might divide some of the larger bays into smaller sections).”
This is the post I’ve been pining for!
Some excellent books. Like the book case simplicity. Curious on details of book case construction. Wood, thickness, attachment of verticals, any stop strip to prevent books hitting wall, any reinforcement to prevent racking (tilting), attached to wall? Finish?….Fred
Another variant of library shelves (that never came to be?) – https://blog.lostartpress.com/2016/01/13/the-lost-art-press-libreria/
Great idea! Going forward, if possible, can you set it up so that you can mouse click on the photo of the books to get a better resolution photo? Peter Follansbee does this with his blog posts and it is helpful to pick up small details (is that a #7 or #8 gouge?). Or in this case, when you get to the non-CMS sections, we’ll be able to better see the author and title. Hopefully this is not too difficult. Thanks!
My favorite bit of new info is the idea that Chris would actually lop off bits of a carefully published book as a big #% to people who need those books to match. Hey–he could give them a skeleton hand sticker for THAT cover and tell them it magically makes the book shrink!
where’s the rest of the CS history collection? i have a large pile of his books on workbenches, and don’t forget the one he wrote on the original flat pack furniture.
As I mentioned, some books could go in many sections. Stay tuned.
Exploring your library is a great idea. Thanks.
Is the three-volume set from Tage Frid, which explain just about everything about woodworking, short of quantum physics, somewhere on one of the shelves? A quantum physics book might explain how other books get moved around, without blaming the cats.
Of course! We have the special boxed set.
It is a very important piece of woodworking publishing.
More likely the students. 😿
Typo in the first sentence: “that the books” should be “than”.
My humble request: a link to a higher-res version of the photo. I’d love to be able to scan the titles myself…
Though I do understand if it’s more of a ‘Hey, come see for yourself,’ kind of thing. 🙂
I had forgotten how beautiful the leather-bound books were. I really wish I could have bought them at the time.
The brothers at Ohio Book do stunning work. In my weaker moments I’ve thought about doing another short run of them for a special book. It’s a ton of work and coordination – with little reward.
If there was one book that got this treatment, which one would you like to see?
My dream pick might be matching leather versions of the two Roubos. My next choice would either be the ADB or Honest Labour.
What is the proper term for the raised ridges on that leather book’s spine? I love that detail, but I don’t know what to call it.
They are called a “raised band” or “raised cord.” In old books they were the threads used to bind the signatures. In modern books they are just for looks (like the headbands).
The five Hayward books would be really cool leather bound. If I could do this to book, or set of books, I’d have all of Roy Underhill’s books as a leather bound set.
Any of them. I would have loved for all the Anarchist series to have been leather bound. I wasn’t even aware that there was ever a limited run of these. They look great.
Very honored to see Nancy’s book on that shelf! Thanks you guys.
Great idea. My first stop whenever I enter someone’s house is the bookcase. I am inexplicably drawn to them. I also pick up magazines/books from the end tables and thumb through them. My wife says its rude to do that. I actually consider it “making myself at home.”
I have a friend that chastises me for looking first at her bookshelves when entering her office. She snaps her fingers and says “Hey! My eyes are over here!”
does she then show your her first edition signed copies of Ibsen and Ingalls-Wilder?
That’s great. Thanks for doing this. Are you considering enclosing the ends of the bookcase to increase its capacity?
Not related to this post, but unsure of how to share it otherwise – in my news feed this morning, an article on King Charles’ art hobby. The lead photo has a pair of stick chairs. Few details, but interesting nonetheless.
My copy of ATC is gold bound and signed. I hunted down the post: 4,770 Pounds Later Posted on May 26, 2011 by Lost Art Press. That was probably the day I ordered.
what is that “Roman Workbenches” book? 👀
Oh shoot – I missed that one. That was a letterpress book that became part of “Ingenious Mechanicks”
I started this post several times. First with faux sardonic* remarks about the lack of birdhouse books, and then with the quality of wood pr0n in the collection.
Ultimately I went with this double edged endorsement. Each time I’ve perused that collection, I spent a long while thereafter stalking books online.
*There is probably a perfect word between ‘sarcastic’ and ‘just funnin’, but I don’t know it offhand.
I love the idea and your execution of your mechanical library. I love that you share it with visitors. I love that you open yourself up to observation of passersby which inevitably delays your work as the curious among us read your sign and then knock… I love that you show us how to do this stuff. I love that your publishing work has allowed me to move closer to a “make it instead of buy it” approach to life.
If everything works out with the untold millions I’ve been promised for funneling a deposed Nigerian Prince’s wealth out of his country I would instantly bankroll
the lovechild of a mechanical library, chair making shop, soup kitchen, bad coffee shop in a small rundown quirky building in downtown Beaufort, SC.
Super cool. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to my new Sunday book club.
Back in high school, I was on the college prep pathway. As such, I really only had one class I would call an elective. It was a journalism class and we wrote for our high school news paper. I still have the clippings from what I wrote. Mr. McAteer made us do this in case we ever looked for work. I also still have the cassette tapes of many of the interviews I did back in the 80s.
I love this tour of your library! I have a small library of my own and am always looking for a new classic to add.
I once entered a rabbit hole of research into which wood makes the best clutch/brake pads. Pretty soon I’m reading about coefficients of friction and realizing that softwoods might wear out faster but are actually “grippier” in a lot of cases. I found bits and pieces of information on the internet but my old copy of Machinery’s Handbook ended up being the best source. I’m sure that book will make a cameo at some point.
I totally get it! Friends happen by my bookcases and do the same. They also are boggled by the breadth of the subject matter. I have to explain that no, I haven’t read them all, but I plan to. Including Man of La Mancha, For Whom the Bell Tolls and rereading Making Things Work. LOL
Although I found The Time Traveler’s Wife a slog, the Anarchist’s Tool Chest was a delightfully fast read. LOL
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