"This might be the best book on
woodworking ever written."
- Jim Crammond, Windsor chair
maker and instructor.
Hear me out. The best book for yoke makers doesn't use the word "oxen" anywhere. Not once. Animal power isn't described.
The book ostensibly covers the process for building a Windsor Chair. To my knowledge, writer and chairmaker Peter Galbert has never even seen a yoke, and his Chairmaker's Notebook doesn't overtly describe the first thing about them.
What Chairmaker's Notebook actually describes, in 400+ pages and 500 illustrations, is everything you'd need to know to make the best yoke you've ever seen. (sans hardware) Think about it: a yoke is basically a large windsor chair with its carved beam acting as the seat and the bows functioning as well . . .the bow.
Wood selection? Yep, he's got it covered, starting in the woodlot.
Carving? Oh my, yes, with clear descriptions of grain direction, the subtleties of reading lumber, and the proper way to choose and sharpen tools familiar to yoke makers: Adzes, drawknives, spokeshaves and (you should really try one on a yoke), travishers.
Bow bending? Steaming, forms, drying times, tips and tricks are all there.
Finishing? If you've ever tried -or shied away from- milk paint, you'll be equipped after reading Galbert's descriptions of the process- with lots of nice, color photos.
Finally, Peter Galbert loves traditional tools because they make so much sense even today in accomplishing a task that matters in a way that brings joy. Sound familiar, ox drovers?
While Chairmaker's Notebook seems pricey at $54 (shipped), you get what you pay for. Check it out.