For lots of woodworkers making boxes is a great way to develop their skills of design and practical technique. They are terrific for extending your woodworking repertoire as well as providing a ready source of gifts or useful storage places for all those bits and pieces we tend to hold onto “just in case”. There are quite a few books out there to help with this so is this one worth the dollars?
First up Doug Stowe writes great copy, it’s easy to read and to understand what he is getting at. Often design sections of these books can get a bit too wordy, a bit artsy if you know what I mean. In this book Doug is straight forward about what he likes and how it’s achieved. The basic layout of the book is simple. Ten projects each require a slightly higher level of skill to achieve. They are all set out in a logical order, an introduction to each box and some discussion on its form and design. Simple to follow instructions on how to make the box together with some tips for variations on the theme, are supported with some good photography as well as excellent sketch illustrations.
The projects here are as the title suggests small scale so you don’t have to have a lot of shop space or invest in great quantities of expensive stock to make them. To complete everything though you would need a well-equipped shop (Band saw, Router table, Lathe) but Doug offers plenty of tips on how to achieve results with a less sophisticated arsenal. There is a great section on creating some custom inlay and I particularly liked the section on creating tiny versions of the classic bentwood box.
If you want to take on a real challenge the final box in the set is a Japanese puzzle box. This not only looks amazing it’s a fiendishly clever and would be a very satisfying thing to produce and show off to your pals. As with most quality woodworking books there are hints and tips throughout and plenty of “that’s a great idea” moments thrown in.
So back to my original question is it worth the dollars? In short yes, it’s a good book to browse and a great book to work from, progressively building up your skills. For the experienced woodworker there are some challenges to overcome as you are operating at the smaller end of the scale. For the novice it’s a great way to improve your skills and have inspiring projects to work towards.