Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 7/12/02

A Book Review by Jay Towles

Title: Turning Boxes with Richard Raffan, revised

Richard Raffan

Published by: Taunton Press

P.O. Box 5506
Newtown, CT 06470-5506
ISBN 1-56158-509-2
Price Softcover: $19.95
160 color pages

This 150 plus page softback book has been revised and updated from the original Turning Boxes With Richard Raffan. The book contains ten chapters: Equipment & Tools, Wood Selection & Preparation, Design, Making An End-Grain Box, More About Lids, Deep Hollowing, Surface Decoration, Variations On The Basic Box, Forms, and Finishing. Safety is discussed in chapter one and touched on again throughout the book. Each chapter contains numerous drawings and photos. The drawings are crisp, clean and very precise in transferring information. The photos are in color and of top-notch professional quality.

The text in the book is thorough and detailed, but there are some passages that I had to read more than twice to fully understand. I believe this is simply a matter of an American reading British/Australian lingo.

Now for the big question, "If you did not know how to make a turned box, could this book help you?" The answer is a big unequivocal "Yes!" The book is filled with "how to" information, photos and illustrations that can help woodturners create their own boxes. The chapter titled Making An End-Grain Box takes the reader through the process in detail, step by step, tool by tool. A cookbook version is then offered again at the end of the chapter.

There is a photo in the Design chapter of a turned box that has been sawn in half. The caption reads, in part, "This box felt so good and well balanced in my hand that I just had to cut it in half to try and find out why." When I turn a box that comes out really well, I would shoot any so-and-so who tries to cut it in half! But Richard Raffan is so good, and turns so many items, that he can afford to dissect his work without any hesitation.

Richard Raffan is a world-renowned woodturner. He teaches woodturning and has several books and videos on the market. Does he ever make a mistake? Page 151 in this book offers inspiration to all aspiring woodturners. The photograph of a dozen or so shattered, broken, split, cracked, and blown up turned boxes is entitled "Graveyard." The caption reads "If you have no failures, you are not trying." Thank you, Mr. Raffan, I needed that.

Jay Towles

Editor's Note: The Taunton Press has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Here is the link to their page on this book. And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble

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