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The Impractical Cabinetmaker: Krenov on Composing, Making, and Detailing Paperback – February 1, 1999


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The Impractical Cabinetmaker: Krenov on Composing, Making, and Detailing + A Cabinetmaker's Notebook (Woodworker's Library) + The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Linden Publishing (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0941936511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941936514
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Krenov studied furniture making and design with Carl Malmsten in Stockholm, Sweden, and later opened his own workshops there. In 1980 he returned to the United States to start and lead the fine-woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods, in Fort Bragg, California. His other books include A Cabinetmaker's Notebook, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking, and James Krenov Worker in Wood.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
He encourages you to slow down, to think about what you're doing, and to enjoy the wood.
Dennis Mitton
I appreciate Krenov for his love of fine craft, for his love of the work and even for wood itself.
New England Yankee
Nowhere does it say in the advertising for this book that it is a reprint of the orginal.
rustym@swconnect.net

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By "srightnar" on June 14, 2001
I did not know what to expect when I ordered this book I was kind of hopeing for a technical how-to guide on building cabinets.Since I was building kitchen cabinets at the time I wanted some top quality ideas and guides to build them. This book is not a step by step guide. But let me say this... this book has inspired me. Dare I say it is a spiritual guide to working with wood coupled with some solid planning and designing words of wisdom. For me it inspired me to move away from the standard straight designs and work toward more artistic and flowing furniture. Just don't buy this book thinking it is a technical how-to book on building you standard square boxes; but buy this book if you desire to build heirlooms .
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Mitton on November 26, 2005
I love all of Krenov's books. One reason is their accessibility. One complaint I have with most woodworking books on technique (like Norm Abrams') is that you need so many specialized tools or machines. Krenov's books are different: he talks as much about why to do something as he talks about the how. He makes his own planes not because of cost but because he can make them better than he can buy. He encourages you to slow down, to think about what you're doing, and to enjoy the wood. I liked "The Impractical Cabinetmaker" especially for his instruction on making your own veneer, something that I've had lots of fun with over the years. His outlines of his own projects are helpful, too, to see how he goes about creating a piece. A great book that I highly recommend.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ed on May 20, 2006
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I bought this book a few years ago and I'm still reading it...or I should say re-reading it. As I progress with my woodworking skills, build some pieces, work with a different wood, etc, I find things in this book I didn't see before. There's a little bit of how-to here, but for me that's not where the real value lies. I love the philosophies of working with wood that Mr. Krenov offers -- they are worth the price of admission, and should be the reason for reading it. So my suggestion is to acquire the books you need about joinery, shaping, cabinet construction, etc., and as you go along every now and then take this book from the shelf and re-read it. Maybe not all of it, but I'm betting that as you grow in woodcraft you will react to it in a different way than you did the last time.

If all you want to do is cut out parts and fasten them together, why not get an erector set?...not so much sawdust. I agree with the reviewer who suggests that it should be required reading for every consumer as well.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Francesco Fraticelli on February 20, 2006
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First of all - my rating of this book is not guided by Mr. Krenov's abilities - it is obvious he is a rare talent in the woodworking and design field...a man who has thought much about what he does and why and in so doing, has mastered his craft. The other side of the coin is that this book is not for everybody - it is heady, filled with a lifetime of introspective philosophy and covers advanced techniques the average person will never use and is nearly useless for the average woodworker who is looking for a "how to" book. Unless you are into an almost Zen like approach to woodworking or are looking for inspiration at an almost unreachable level, this book may not be for you. Is it a good read? Yes, and worth reading, no doubt. Will it help you go out to your shop the day after you read it and actually do something you gleaned out of it? Probably not. This book CAN be depressing. On the other hand, it will most assuredly open your mind to a rare and beautiful area of woodworking that to this point may have escaped you. Read it, enjoy it, it may inspire you to do better work or at least make you wish you could. His creations are beautiful. At the very least, you will come away with a certain amount of awe at what a dedicated, thoughtful and talented man can do with rather simple tools :)
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By rustym@swconnect.net on March 15, 1999
First let me say that "The Impractical Cabinetmaker" is a fantastic book. Now let me say that this new one is a ripoff by the publisher. Let me explain. This "new" book is just a reprint of the orginal published in 1979 with a little more added to the title to make you think it's a new book. Nowhere does it say in the advertising for this book that it is a reprint of the orginal. If you don't have the orginal this is a must buy for any James Krenov fan.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G. Robinson VINE VOICE on November 1, 2010
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The good:
Talks about the spirit of craftsmanship and trends in wood working. Well thought out ideas many of which I agree with.
Provides some interesting insights into designs and talks about problems that I didn't realize were there in the pieces he uses for demonstration.
Interesting chapter on veneer; the making and use.
Some interesting ideas for the advanced wood worker and maybe inspiring for the aggressive intermediate.

The bad:
The first part of the book is very wordy and diffuse. He takes over 70 pages to say what could have been said in 5. While I agree with his thesis it is ill expressed.
Could do with more/better explanations of some pieces.
Limited range of pieces and techniques.
The veneer techniques are not terribly useful, more interesting as a curiosity.
His æsthetic is very Swedish modern and doesn't shake my snake.
Definitely not for someone looking for plans, there are none.
Useless to the newbie.

The ugly:
Only covers a couple of pieces in any detail.
The information presented is limited and mostly of value to the advanced wood worker.

Overall an interesting book and ideas. Suitable for someone who is looking for a change in direction or inspiration. Great book for a very limited audience.
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