Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 2/16/99

A Book Review: by Wayne Arvidson, Jr.

Title: Fine Decorative Boxes -
Designing and Making Original Works of Art

Authors: Andrew Crawford

Published by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN:0-8069-9862-8 Softcover $19.95 (Can. $27.95)

Just a few general observations about this book to start with. First it is a well laid out and organized book. The author helps get you oriented for the fine woodworking skills and techniques that will be utilized throughout the text. I found that this was much different from many of the cabinetmaking books I've read recently. Throughout the text the author shares many tips that help both the novice and experienced woodworker.

The publication also contains an interesting section showing other craftperson's works. Coming from a printing and publishing background, I must also add that the typography and illustrations are first rate and add tremendously to the overall impression of the book.

The author starts out with some excellent observations about design considerations which can be translated to any type of project you're working on. His view of designing 'from the inside out' is essential for designing boxes, but I've also applied it to a cabinet project I'm working on now.

Another element which I found useful is that he starts off the second section of the book by laying out all the parameters of what is to follow, including measurement techniques, reference to procedures and any special considerations.

He follows with a tools section that has excellent references to specific tools, why they are needed and how they are used. Some of the jigs he describes are also interesting. Perhaps the only fault I found with the book was in this section. Some of the jigs are clearly illustrated while others are not. There was also no reference to if or where you would see their application later on in the text.

Overall, each of the specific projects contained were covered in-depth. There are extensive dimensional diagrams and material lists for each. He starts each with a great description of the use of the box or why he made it and then points specific considerations for this particular work. All the steps follow a very logical progression and are covered thoroughly. He utilizes many different finishing techniques, as well.

While some of the examples in this book were more art-oriented than practical, I found that I still enjoyed the entire piece. There are a host of techniques that can be applied to a variety of other types of work and he gives the option of several ways to do certain elements of the box based on your skill level.

This was a well thought out and well done book. In addition to those interested in making boxes, jewelry cases, etc., I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking at learning interesting inlay, veneer, and finishing techniques. Read it now and you'll have plenty of ideas for this year's holiday gifts!

Wayne Arvidson, Jr.

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge. Thank You!

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