Back to Basics : How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills

Cover, Back to Basics : How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills

Publisher: Readers Digest

ISBN: 0895779390

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Back to Basics : How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills

Hardcover March 1997
Voluntary simplicity has become a catch phrase for what seems to be a yearning for a simpler, more self-sufficient and economical way of living in the late 20th century. This book, first published in 1981 and recently updated, was probably many folks’ first in-depth exposure to the idea of a simpler life, making things by hand, and enjoying a stronger sense of control over personal budgets, home projects, and lifestyles. Hundreds of projects are listed, illustrated in step-by-step diagrams and instructions: growing and preserving your own food, converting trees to lumber and building a home from it, traditional crafts and homesteading skills, and having fun with recreational activities like camping, fishing, and folk dancing without spending a lot of money. This book will have you dreaming and planning from the first page! —

With so many urban and suburban dwellers moving toward simplifying their lives, Reader’s Digest has updated its popular Back to Basics series to provide the ultimate how-to book. It’s packed with hundreds of projects and illustrated step-by-step sequences to help you learn to live more self-sufficiently, with sections on shelter, alternative energy sources, growing and preserving food, home crafts, and even recreation. Includes over 2,000 photos, diagrams and drawings.

The Lesson of Japanese Architecture

The Lesson of Japanese ArchitectureAuthor(s): Jiro Harada

Publisher: Dover Pubns

ISBN: 0486247783

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Published in 1954 (1st ed. 1936), the book contains articles introducing Japanese Architecture, along with black-and-white photographs of Japanese buildings and establishments, of which many were sadly destroyed during the Second World War. It’s concise and non-technical; anyone with an interest in Japanese architecture is strongly recommended to read this book. Although it was published more than half a century ago, one could not help but be struck by the fact that the Japanese architectural principles are still as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. (Of course, the history of Japanese architecture traces back to many centuries…)

Standard Handbook of Fastening and Joining

Cover, Standard Handbook of Fastening and Joining Author(s): Robert O. Parmley (Editor)

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Book Company

ISBN: 0070485895

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Hardcover – 992 pages
3rd edition
January 1997

Booknews, Inc., 09/01/89
The second edition of this useful resource contains approximately 50 percent new or revised material. Included are six new sections dealing with: expansion joints, concrete fastening, injected metal assembly, sheet metal assembly, retaining compounds, and rope splicing and tying. Pertinent information on new advances and developments has been incorporated throughout the book wherever relevant.

Tools of the Trade: The Art and Craft of Carpentry

Cover, Tools of the Trade: The Art and Craft of CarpentryAuthor(s): Jeff Taylor, Rich Iwasaki

Publisher: Chronicle Books

ISBN: 0811812731

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Hardcover, 176 pages
Publication date: November 1996

How-To Editor’s Recommended Book, 02/01/97:
Let me be very clear about this: GET THIS BOOK. You may have an interest in hand tools and carpentry, or you may not. But this is a lovingly written book by a gifted storyteller and wit, and a damn entertaining read! It is about interacting with tools, but it is also the author’s memoir of delightful characters he has known: teachers, mentors, and personal heroes. Much more than a how-to book, it is about a love for humanity, good humor, and creativity. It reads like a novel–and a good one!

In the bestselling tradition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, these refreshing essays from master carpenter Jeff Taylor illuminate the spiritual aspects of working with hand tools. This is an elegant and engaging book for anyone who enjoys building, fixing, and working with hand tools. 25 full-color photos.

The author, Jeff Taylor , 07/07/96:
If you’ve ever picked up an old plane and felt that it knew more than you did, you know the author’s question: Did that inanimate object just speak to me? Twenty years as a working carpenter have convinced him that he barely scratched the surface of the mysteries of tools. They seem to have a life of their own, little secrets they can pass along if you listen hard. There are 26 essays in this book, each highlighting a different tool, illustrated by the photographs of Rich Iwasaki.

Customer Comments

from Clarks Summit, PA , 11/23/97, rating=10:
Wonderful essays! Tools are almost a metaphor for the users. Who would have thought that anyone could write more than a scant paragraph about a hammer? Jeff Taylor not only wrote an entire chapter, but made it so intriguing that I read every word (often out loud to whoever was in the room), and turned eagerly to the next chapter and tool. I gave it to my husband when I reluctantly finished; he ordered three more for gifts. Yes, it’s a book about tools, but it is also a book about teachers, not only of the craft of carpentry, but of the more difficult art of coping with the foibles of human nature. Taylor’s prose leaps from resounding metaphor to the language of the street in an engagingly warm and humorous fashion as he introduces his readers to each tool and all the mysteries and wonders they hold. Mundane objects like Yankee drills and framing squares take on personality when seen through the author’s eyes (and through the incredible glamor of the book’s photography). Glamour? Hand tools? Yes! Only halfway through the book, I conceived a powerful craving for a rosewood level — and I am not a carpenter. Not only are we made privy to the secrets of each tool, but also to the secrets of the myriad characters who instructed him in his craft. And these teachers are definitely characters, masterfully sketched.Crusty, perhaps, sometimes even shifty. But they knew their trade, and after a lifetime of working with their hands, they knew fifty tricks with a hammer and other things the home dabbler has never dreamt of. They knew their tools. So does Jeff Taylor — now. Even if you’ve never held a hammer in your life, you’ll appreciate this book. It’s a great read, and a must for the woodworkers among your acquaintance for Christmas. Buy several, because you’ll keep loaning yours out, and it won’t come back.

A reader, 01/05/97, rating=10:
Funny, thoughtful essays that happen to be about carpentry. I’m a woman and I don’t build ANYTHING, but I bought this for my boyfriend and ended up reading it all the way through. Jeff Taylor is a marvelous person and it’s great fun to spend time with him as he discusses the joy of building things. It’s sort of Zen and the Art of Carpentry.

The Resourceful Renovator

Cover, The Resourceful Renovator

Author(s): Jennifer Corson

ISBN: 10890132519

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“The wood floors in older houses are so beautiful — how do I create the same effect?”

“Will used windows work to provide natural light in a dark interior room?”

“We removed some wonderful old wrought-iron grates when we replaced our heating system-how can we use them?”

“Is there an inexpensive way to build a brick patio for my home?”

“Our bathroom needs a new look, but we can’t spend much-what can we do?”

“How can I reuse the granite foundation block from the demolition site down the street?”

The Resourceful Renovator is always asking how basic building materials can be restored, rehabilitated, remodeled, repaired, revitalized, rejuvenated, reclaimed, renewed, refurbished, repainted, repointed, retrofitted, reconstructed, replicated, re-erected, rebuilt, recreated, redesigned, reworked, relocated or reused.

This book contains hundreds of ideas for renovating and decorating projects that reuse wood, stone, metal, glass, brick and ceramics. These materials consumed enormous amounts of energy in their production and building materials are the biggest proportion of all waste discarded in landfills. Instead of throwing them away, why not reuse these items in new buildings or renovation projects, and create furnishings and rooms that are beautiful, functional and good examples for our children and community?

The traditional method of demolishing a building is to use an excavator to knock it down into a rubble pile and then cart the debris away to the landfill. But there is another way. We should consider where building materials originate, how they are extracted from nature and how much energy is embodied in the process of changing raw resources into useful products. Then we can start to reverse the global impact of our use of those resources. Considerable value — energy, ingenuity and plain hard work — has already been added to transform ore or earth or tree into radiators or door knobs or tongue-and-groove flooring. Knowing this, we will be very reluctant to simply throw away such valuable items.

Finding material to reuse can be a fun adventure-in fact, it’s sometimes the most fun part of the project. Half of the joy of showing your finished project to a visitor is in telling the story of where the material came from. There is no end to the affliction called resource recycling-when it sets in, one house may not be enough. The urge to sidestep the new materials aisle at the hardware store, and dig through the neighborhood trash is infectious.

Many of the photographs and stories in this book come from author Jennifer Corson’s first-hand experience at her Renovator’s Resource business in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As well, it features some of the best episodes from her television series, “The Resourceful Renovator.”

176 pages, 2000

Renovating Old Houses

Cover, Renovating Old Houses

Author(s): George Nash

ISBN: 1561581283

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George Nash offers the know-how for owners who want professional results and builders who are serious about renovation. You start by evaluating whether an old house is a diamond in the rough or a broken down wreck that’s not worth the effort of renovating. Next, you’ll learn how to set priorities and handle every renovating job, including replacing foundations, rebuilding windows, installing roofing and siding, repairing plaster, upgrading wiring, plumbing and heating systems, and much more. Hundreds of photos and detailed drawings show the gruesome reality of old homes along with methods for resurrecting them. With the help of this book, you’ll bring that old home up to modern standards without sacrificing the warmth and spirit of the original. 343 pages, 1992

Adding to a House: Planning, Design, & Construction

Cover, Adding to a House

Publisher: Fine Homebuilding

ISBN: 1561580724

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One of the best ways to combat urban sprawl and save money is to recycle an old home. Often older homes seem inadequate because of lack of space or facilities (such as bathrooms, offices, utility rooms, etc.). In Adding to a House, designer/builder Philip Wenz gives you the benefit of his 20 years of building experience. He explains how to:

      Evaluate a house for its addition potential, in terms of its resale value and the condition of the structure and site.
      Design the addition for continuity with the existing house.
      Avoid costly mistakes that leave the house in worse shape than when the project began.
      Accurately estimate the cost of any type of addition.
      Ensure that the addition conforms to local building codes and zoning regulations.
      Make connections between the old and new foundations, framing and roofs.

Now all the essential information about residential additions can be found in one book. 263 pages, 1995

No Regrets Remodeling

Cover, No Regrets Remodeling

Publisher: Home Energy Magazine

ISBN: 0963944428

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In No-Regrets Remodeling, you’ll discover ways to make home improvements that benefit your house, your bank account and your well being. Here you’ll learn how new technologies and building practices can do more than make your home look better. It will also feel better, increase in value and cost less to heat, cool and maintain. No-Regrets Remodeling shows you the smart way to approach a remodeling job by steering you away from common mistakes that can be costly, unhealthy, unsafe or just plain annoying. The book identifies technology options and gives you the information to make the best choice for you. For example, in the Hot Water chapter, you’ll find a worksheet for estimating your water use, conservation ideas with savings projections and detailed descriptions of water heating technologies. Similar information is presented for space heating and cooling, ventilation, lighting, windows and structural improvements. Each chapter guides you through the steps that make the entire house a more pleasant place. You’ll learn how to: eliminate drafts, end mold and mildew problems, prevent peeling paint and rotting roofs, stop family thermostat wars, create attractive, efficient lighting designs, improve air quality, provide a new sense of quiet, decrease allergies, protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, attract loans that put money in your pocket and save on utility bills. The book is based on a series of articles that appeared in Home Energy Magazine, although the text has been reworked and expanded and many new illustrations added. 222 pages, 1997

Eco-Renovation : The Ecological Home Improvement Guide, 2nd Ed

Eco-Renovation : The Ecological Home Improvement Guide


Eco-Renovation : The Ecological Home Improvement Guide, 2nd Ed2nd Ed.

Author(s): Edward Harland, Duncan Roberts (Illustrator)

Publisher: Chelsea Green

ISBN: 1890132381

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Edward Harland There’s a popular bumper sticker that says “Think Globally, Act Locally.” You can’t get any more local than your own home. One of the best paths to environmentally-friendly housing is recycling old houses, whether you want to improve your current home or “move up” to a better place. Eco-Renovation is specifically aimed at homeowners who want to make existing houses as “green” as possible.

Author Edward Harland provides a concise overview of the major home related ecological questions and concerns and then offers practical solutions and suggestions for renovating the home ecologically. Eco-Renovation will show you how to: Reduce heating bills substantially. Select building materials that are resource efficient and environmentally-safe. Convert and maximize living space. Protect the family from toxic substances.

Edward Harland is an architect specializing in ecological renovation of houses. He has worked in both public and private practice and has also run his own carpentry business, building sunrooms, kitchens and furniture. 241 pages, 1999

Living Spaces: Ecological Building and Design

Cover, Living Spaces: Ecological Building and DesignAuthor(s): L. Abraham and T. Fisher

ISBN: 3895089257
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Living Spaces: Ecological Building and Design adapted from Germany by L. Abraham. T., Fisher .

This dense, spectacular, full color edition covers everything including stone, clay, cob, timberframe, brick and other natural techniques. Discusses sustainability, the basics of design, materials, solar, thermal, acoustical, moisture, cost effectiveness, repair, energy efficiency, and so much more.

(Natural pigments from plants, water systems, recycling old doors, windows, modern electrical products, materials in bedding, insulation composting, fuel, and facade design. Over 480 pages with unique photos of European and other houses throughout, bibliography, resources, index.

(I especially liked the reed matting and clay daub photos indicating how very old styles can be used today (pgs 93-95). Hardbound, oversize,