LaymarCrafts Woodturning

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Woodturning by Klaus Pracht is like no other Book I have seen on the subject with many Black & White Photos showing Finished and Part Finished  Items and also the Techniques being used, plus some Coloured Photos of Finished Pieces, along side these many pictures are numerous Line Drawings relative to the subject matter.

This Book is an English Translation of a Book first published in German in 1986, and I have found it to be of great benefit, particularly in the early days of my Woodturning. The fact that at 224 pages with possibly more space given over to Pictures and Illustrations that actual Text it appeared good value for money.

Divided into five major sections, the first of which is an introduction taking us from the Early Turnings of 800 BC, and a History of the Lathe then onto Woodturning of the modern time.

We are then introduced to Materials and Tools in section two, this is kept brief by modern standards and yet more than adequately covers all the important things we should understand before we start serious Woodturning, again this section is well illustrated with a good selection of Photos, Line Drawings and Charts.

Next up is the section on Technique and this is again well illustrated and covers the two types of Turning, Spindle-Turning and Face-Plate Turning. It is in this section that you begin to wonder if at some time during the translation someone dropped the manuscript and did not quite get it back in the right order.

From page 42 until page 55 we have all aspects of Spindle-Turning and then we move onto Faceplate-Turning and move through to Hollowing on page 61, then on page 62 & 63 we have Copy-Turning of a Spindle and then on page 64 we revert to Boring and Drilling as an alternative method of Hollowing? Similar such mix-ups appear through out the Book but this is perhaps the most blatant.

The teaching of Design in the concept of Woodturning is one of those subjects that has often been attempted but very rarely has it been totally successful, this Book is perhaps an exception, here we have nearly 30 pages of Drawings and Pictures which take the reader through all aspects of Design, from the Basic Rule of ratio's and then interestingly "Design before Turning" followed by "Design after Turning" and finally onto "Other Techniques" which means Non-Turned, round or curved parts.

The last 128 pages are given over to a section entitled Uses, and this covers Containers, Household and Tableware, Furnishings, Toys (including the famous Animals from a turned Ring), Furniture, Furniture Parts and finally Fitments.

This section is vast and you will find here Tips, Ideas and Techniques from Simple Plates, to Balcony Balustrades via Egg-Cups, Hooks, Rails & Rings, Skipping Ropes, Stools, Knobs, Finials and Newels.

All in all this is a good Book to have in any Woodturners Library and is definitely the Book I refer to most when I am confronted by some of those more obscure items we are often asked to Turn.

Woodturning by Klaus Pracht
Published by Dryad Press Ltd. (in the UK)
   ISBN 0 8521 9773X


Shapes for Woodturners was my second purchase for my intended Woodturning Library and is undoubtedly the least useful of the 30 Books I now own. this Book was purchased on the strength of a Review in one of the Woodturning Magazines I was receiving back in 1992 and it was at this point that I realised that all Books get a "Good Review" and that the "Cover Picture" is not always relevant to the content.

With something like 128 pages of content split into "The Techniques" and Part 2, The Shapes  which takes up 102 of those pages, this is a Book of what one would expect to be full of sound and useful information on Shape, Design and Form?

Bearing in mind I started off my Woodturning with the cheapest Lathe available at the time, as I wished to test the water before I dived in and spent a lot of money, only to be told in the very first paragraph of this Book that I had made the Biggest Mistake I could make by investing in such a Lathe.

Now being told that I owned a Noisy, Smelly, too Light, Badly Made with Poor Bearings and a machine that Vibrates a lot, was not what I wanted to hear. It got worse as I read on stating that such Lathes are both Unpleasant to use and that they Produce Poor results?

But hold on a minute, by now I had owned and used my Lathe for nearly two years and I had Turned many items many of which I sold at Craft Fares with nothing but praise for the pieces in question, so how come my "Cheap" little Lathe was so different from the one that David Weldon was conveying to his readers? or is this a case of the Turner blaming his Tools for a Poor Product?

In fact I found the complete section on Equipment and Techniques very poor in content and totally void of any Pictures or Illustrations. In my opinion you either write a Book to inform the reader fully or you just use words to fill up the content, this Book falls in the latter category. It taught me nothing, contradicted other, much better publications and confused more than it helped.

So having been disappointed with the first section of this Book I moved on to section two, "The Shapes" and expecting to see some good ideas and advise on Shape, Design and Style all you get is 100 pages of Graph Paper with line drawings of every day shapes, or more to the point half the shape.

To fully see what is drawn you have either photo copy and paste together each shape or trace it out on tracing paper, giving a very one dimensional sketch. There are no Pictures, other than that on the front cover, showing a finished item anywhere in this Book just 400+ Half Drawings.

Many of these are in fact everyday items just drawn onto Graph Paper and I question the viability of actually Turning many of these or there final use. We have 7 pages (32 designs) for Bottles and Decanters, we have Coffee Pots and Tea Pots complete with Spouts and Handles?

Five pages of Drinking Vessels are what appear to be standard designs for Wine Glasses, Tankards, again complete with handles and Glass Tumblers, and expect to see duplication what is depicted as a Bottle on one page becomes a Vase on another, and in other areas the subtle difference between two drawings is so small you need a rule to measure with to spot the difference.

This Book has a place on my shelf, gathering dust as a reminder to never buy a book without a full refund policy if not satisfied.

Shapes for Woodturners by David Weldon
Published by B.T.Batsford Ltd.
   ISBN 0 7134 7031 3



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