“With the Grain: A Craftsman’s Guide to Understanding Wood” Book Review

Topics Covered
1. Author
2. Book Stats
3. Chapter List
4. What Each Chapter Covers
5. Final Thoughts
6. Related Links

In reading a book, one of the first things I like to do is to learn what I can about the author. Christian Becksvoort the author of “With the Grain …” has almost fifty years of woodworking experience, according to his website. A link to Christian’s website, with additional details regarding Christian’s woodworking experience, is included at the end of this review under “Related Links.”

Book Stats
1. Author – Christian Becksvoort
2. Published by Lost Art Press
3. Book Page Total – 136 Pages
4. Book Dimensions – 8-3/4” x 11-5/16”
5. Hardbound Cover

Chapter List
Chapter 1 – Trees And Wood Technology — (Pages 1 thru 13)
Chapter 2 – Wood And Tree Identification And Characteristics – (Pages 14 thru 75)
Chapter 3 – Woodlot Management And harvest – (Pages 76 thru 88)
Chapter 4 – Sawing And Drying Wood – (Pages 89 thru 103)
Chapter 5 – Working With Solid Wood – (Pages 104 thru 130)
Bibliography – (Page 131)
Index – (Pages 132 thru 136)

What Each Chapter Covers
Chapter 1 –Trees And Wood Structure –
The following is an abridged list of topics covered in this chapter: wood anatomy, hardwoods & softwoods, wood properties, grain, defects & abnormalities, spalting, gum pockets, & reaction wood. This chapter also includes 18 drawings & photos, relative to this chapter.

Chapter 2 –Wood And Tree Identification And Characteristics – The following topics are covered in this chapter:
1. Trees of North America
2. Thirty wood species covered by this chapter
3. Identifying the listed trees by shape, twigs, leaves, and bark
4. This is the longest of the five chapters
5. Where the tree is found, typical tree height, and typical uses
6. Number of drawings & photos – 121

Chapter 3 – Woodlot Management And Harvest – If you own your own wooded property (lucky dog) then this chapter is for you. However, even if you do not own your own wooded property (like me), Christian points out possible viable options: I enjoyed the options discussion.

Topics covered in this chapter regarding your trees include inventorying, thinning, replanting, tree management basics, basic tools you will need, pruning, disease and pest control, and methods of harvesting.

The last three paragraphs of this chapter cover possible options for obtaining wood for those of us who do not own our own wooded property. Four good alternative options for obtaining wood are presented here, well worth reading.

Almost forgot, 21 photos and drawings are included in chapter three.

Chapter 4 – Sawing And Drying Wood – Topics covered here include finding a sawmill, methods of sawing (plain sawn, quartersawn, & rift sawn), grading of lumber, typical moisture content percentages, discussion on air-drying and kilns, and calculating moisture content.

Twenty-one photos and drawings are included in this chapter.

Chapter 5 – Working With Solid Wood – This was my favorite chapter because of the following topics which were discussed:
1. Wood shrinkage and expansion
2. Factors to consider regarding wood movement
3. Cross-grain gluing
4. Considerations regarding various types of glue
5. Tree growth ring orientations & the gluing of a panel consisting of multiple boards
6. Grain direction in cases
7. Case construction
8. Mouldings
9. Cleats, ribs, and stabilizers
10. Drawers
11. Doors
12. Tables
13. Working qualities of wood
14. Matching grain
15. Dealing with knots, pitch pockets, and dents & nicks
16. Finishes and moisture migration
17. Shaping and forming wood methods
18. Working with green wood
19. Outdoor woodwork

Forty-six photos and drawings are included in this chapter.

Final Thoughts
In closing, I enjoyed the book. It was a good read.

The contents of Chapter 1 are listed above and I have nothing additional to add.

I found Chapter 2 – Wood and Tree Identification and Characteristics – not to be an exciting chapter to read. However, I look upon it as a reference chapter that I will refer to when I have questions about a specific tree type. Therefore, I will tag this chapter for future reference.

Regarding Chapter 3 – Woodlot Management and Harvest – Since I do not have a wooded lot, this chapter was not relevant for me. However, I am going to tag page 88 of this chapter, which covers “Other Sources of Wood,” some good information here for non-woodlot owners like me regarding other viable methods for acquiring wood.

I have nothing additional to add regarding Chapter 4; the contents of this chapter are listed above.

Of the five chapters, Chapter 5 was the chapter I liked the most. I will refer to this chapter the most in the future.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you would share it by email with a friend, or on Google+, and/or Facebook. While I am being needy, would you give me a “Like” on my Facebook page (Woodworking with AJO)? My Facebook page “Like” button is on the right side of this page, or you can click on the link shown below for my Facebook page. Thanks a bunch.

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Until next time, Take care

Related Links:
C.H. Becksvoort- News, Events & Reflections | What’s going on in and around the shop.
With the Grain by Christian Becksvoort