Woodshop Library

INSPIRED BY CHINA: CONTEMPORARY FURNITUREMAKERS EXPLORE CHINESE TRADITIONS, by Nancy Berliner and Edward S. Cooke Jr., documents a three-day workshop on historical Chinese furniture held in 2005 by group of 22 studio furniture makers from China, Canada, and the United States at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. Each participant in this intensive study produced his own piece of unique furniture in response to the forms, materials, techniques and meaning of China's rich furniture traditions. Essays provide historical background from both Chinese and American furniture perspectives. Illustrations showcase both historical pieces of Chinese furniture and the reinterpretations resulting from the workshop. Garry Knox Bennett, for example, chose a diminutive, low-back 18th-century chair to produce his "Chair for a Small Important Person." Compared to the original, his sports a modern twist with a combination of rosewood and mixed media such as gold-plated copper and brass, epoxy and paint, to move away from the singular devotion to wood. Berliner is curator of Chinese art at the Peabody Essex Museum. Cooke is the Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University. The 160-page hardcover sells for $60. Contact: University of Washington Press, P.O. Box 50096, Seattle, WA 98145. Tel: 206-543-4050. www.washington.edu

CABINET DOORS AND DRAWERS: DESIGN, DETAIL, AND CONSTRUCTION, by David Getts, is an illustrated reference guide that discusses construction of all types of cabinet doors and drawers. It features an extensive gallery of door and drawer styles, cabinet hardware, pocket doors, tambour doors, coopered doors, edge banding, metal drawers and veneer work. Getts encourages readers to think beyond the utilitarian nature of items they're designing and building. For example, he points out that while a drawer is just a sliding box, it can be constructed from a variety of materials with differing construction techniques, can operate from a variety of sliding systems, and can have a front or face in any design imaginable. Getts is a professional cabinetmaker in Washington and is also the author of "Making Mantels" (Linden Publishing). The 186-page softcover sells for $25.95. Contact: Linden Publishing Inc., 2006 S. Mary, Fresno, CA 93721. Tel: 800-345-4447. www.woodworkerslibrary.com

SHARPENING WOODTURNING TOOLS, with Mike Darlow, offers step-by-step instruction in a two DVD set. The first disc introduces alloys used in tool making, different sharpening jig designs, as well as equipment and abrasives needed for proper sharpening, followed by an exploration of edge geometry and its effect on cutting action. The second DVD covers sharpening methods (freehand grinding, tool rest, handle-end jigs, etc.) and outlines options depending on your experience and equipment. Using close-in-camera work for clarity, sharpening for each tool is broken down into a series of easily repeated steps. This is especially helpful for complex bowl-gouge profiles. A 16-page booklet with plans for jigs is also included, along with a template for checking bevel angles. Darlow is the author of six woodturning books, more than 100 magazine articles, and the DVDs "The Practice of Woodturning" and "The Taming of the Skew." The three-hour DVD set sells for $33.50. Contact: Lee Valley Tools, 814 Proctor Ave., Ogdensburg, NY 13669-2205. Tel: 800-871-8158. www.leevalley.com

PINEWOOD DERBY SPEED SECRETS, by David Meade, is loaded with tips and advice for building the car that brings home the trophy. Geared for both first-time and seasoned competitors, the book starts with an informative section on the principles of speed, which touches on maximizing potential energy, reducing friction and reducing wheel inertia. The fun part happens in the chapter Building the Car Body, which offers a pattern for building a winning car. An aerodynamic car that has been properly sanded, with a heavy rear and correct axel positioning that will reduce friction and increase speed, according to the author. While many people add weight to their cars by attaching a long bar of metal to the bottom, Meade encourages readers to drill three holes horizontally through the rear of the car and fill them with lead. Decorating tips and several extravagant design patterns are included. Meade is a research scientist and the father of two undefeated Derby champs. The 106-page softcover sells for $12.95. Contact: Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., 1970 Broad St., East Petersburg, PA 17520. Tel: 800-457-9112. www.foxchapelpublishing.com

— Jennifer Hicks