Gazette Archive 9/26/00
A book review: By Antonio P. Dias
Title: Modern Cabinetmaking
Becky Wojcik, Advertising Director
"Modern Cabinetmaking" by Dr. William D. Umstattd and Charles W. Davis is an excellently written textbook aimed primarily at the beginning to intermediate woodworker. The book is logically organized in much the same order as an actual cabinetmaking project. It begins by covering the design process, examining major design styles and considerations and progresses through the rendering of those designs.
The second part of the book examines the materials which are typically used in cabinetmaking, from the various types of woods to panel products, veneers, glass and even ceramics. The remainder of the book (another 550+ pages!) is devoted mostly to the woodworking process, with discussions of the use and application of both hand and power tools and techniques, followed by advice on finishing. The last few chapters of the book offer practical instruction on designing and installing kitchen cabinets as well as stand-alone furniture and built-ins, followed by a brief discussion of industrial production cabinetmaking and careers in cabinetmaking.
At 912 pages, including a very good index and an appendix with useful conversion tables, this book is not to be read from cover to cover in one sitting. Each chapter is loaded with the theory of good woodworking as well as with practical applications and examples, with a strong emphasis on safety. There are also hundreds and hundreds of detailed pictures and drawings which help illustrate the authors' points. As a beginning woodworker, I have benefited greatly from having read this book and I am certain that I will refer to it many times in the future as a reference and for reminders of what to do and what not to do.
For beginners and intermediate woodworkers, "Modern Cabinetmaking" will certainly not be the only book on your shelf, but it should probably be the first one. As a general textbook, it provides an excellent introduction to the various aspects of the craft. Entire books have been written on topics such as joints and finishing so if you are looking for specific, detailed advice on a narrow topic, this is not the best book for you. For a broad overview (with a good amount of detail) and as an excellent teaching and learning tool, I strongly recommend adding this book to your collection. Because of its broad range, advanced cabinetmakers may possibly benefit from using the book as a general reference.
Antonio P. Dias
Editor's Note: Charles Davis is a WWA member and you can get more details about Modern Cabinetmaking at his website.