This friend is a proper woodworker’s book. If you are deep into craft with many years of experience, you will appreciate the subtext of the writing and some of the fine details. If you have just been bitten by the woodworking bug and are still at the dreaming stage of setting up your shop, this will fire you up with enthusiasm to get on with it without delay. What’s more, on days when you just can’t get into the shop (does that actually ever happen?) this book will fill the void with tales of daring do and sawdust from some of the coolest woodworkers in America. Nick’s style of writing is easy going and straight to the point with a satisfying seasoning of well-timed humour throughout.
After an initial and very readable introduction to essential tools and workshop set-up, there is a really good section on the properties of wood and how boards are cut. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you are new to the ways of the saw; this is devilishly useful info when you want to sound convincing at the lumber yard.
Now the main event of this very readable volume is an introduction to a cast of fine woodworking folks who share an absolute passion for making stuff; and have crossed paths with Nick and his studio over time. Firstly, each of these twenty characters is introduced in a very readable preamble which gives you a flavour of their own particular brand of wood fever. Secondly, you get some delightful projects presented by their makers and some pretty detailed instructions; some accompanied with great illustrations to help you make them if you choose to take up the challenge. Some are complex and require serious time and skill, but you can start with a small but beautifully detailed kazoo, and who wouldn’t want one of those? Throughout the book are some beautiful images. ‘Wood Porn’ is a fair description as well as some original pop art and illustrations. There is a smattering of side articles on subjects as diverse as beard culture and workshop fashion; all presented with the level of irreverence and smart humour that are the hallmarks of this really great book. Undoubtedly this is a terrific book with some great original projects to pick up, either to do or to dream about making in your own fashion. But more than that, it sets out in print what the modern world of woodworking or making with wood is about. It’s a kick back at conformity and the mass produced in favour of creativity and rediscovery of craft skills. Not just for those lucky enough to make their living from working with wood, but for the millions of us who enjoy freedom of expression made real by our own hands. Good Clean Fun, Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop by Nick Offerman is available from thegmcgroup.com, and other retailers online. ISBN-978-1-101-98465-9.