Though it originated in the pages of the influential British magazine The Woodworker, this is a book focused more on the “why” of woodworking than the “how”. It is a selection of the best of Charles Haywards’s “Chips from the Chisel”, introductory essays he wrote for the magazine as its editor from 1936 to 1969.
Arranged by year, each chapter is prefaced with a summary of notable events, providing some historical context for the writing that follows – with topics that include projects to work on during the blackouts of the Blitz, adapting to new technologies and cultural shifts of the Fifties and Sixties, and the evolution of furniture and design throughout the twentieth century. While the essays are centered around woodworking, Hayward weaves philosophy, poetry, politics and nature into his writing, often returning to the theme of the fulfillment to be found in working with one’s hands.
Each essay is no more than a page or two long, accompanied by illustrations reproduced from other articles that appeared in The Woodworker – diagrams, measured drawings and occasionally cartoons, most drawn by Hayward himself. Filled with rich, thoughtful text and fascinating illustrations, this is the sort of book you can pick up again and again, diving at almost any point to find an enlightening passage worthy of reflection.
Hardcover, 8 3/4" × 11 1/4", 465 pages, 2020.