Woodworking for Idiots Like Me

 

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new cover of 'Woodworking For Idiots Like Me'

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Ron Peters
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Review by Ron Peters

   The title, Woodworking for Idiots Like Me (Dr. Bob Rich's journey from fumbler to fixer) is your first clue that this book is not going to be your average self-help publication for happy homeowners or wannabe carpenters.

   This is confirmed right off as Dr. Bob refers to such terms as shearing sheds, roastabout, dogman, and flying fox. Now where have I heard those terms before? Let's see... Oh, wait a minute! This book is written in Australia. Dr. Bob is an Aussie. He comes from downunder in g'day land.

   When you get to billycarts, spanners, noggins, cubby houses, and portable dunny holes (think outhouse), however, you are well on your way to receiving a solid education in practical woodworking, not to mention picking up a few idioms that may come in handy the next time you're at Outback's Steakhouse. Probably not dunny holes, though.

   Dr. Bob has a wonderful sense of self depreciating dry wit--the sign of a confident but humble man--that brings eye-twinkling life to the subject of woodworking. His unique style of didactic instruction through appealing short stories makes you want more; you keep reading even if the project he's describing isn't of current interest (dunny hole comes to mind). He makes the subject enjoyable and interesting by delivering wonderful insights into his life as a concerned environmentalist in an Australian co-operative.

   "Gripped by the curse of creativity," Dr. Bob has organized this e-Book version of his published book into instructional sections (chapters) with imbedded links to specific tools or methods highlighted in the chapter. In addition, a navigation sidebar lets the reader skip back and forth through the material with ease. This all adds up to easy reading with quick access to more detail if needed. All in all, nicely organised (God, he's got me spelling like him).

   In twenty-four chapters. Dr. Bob covers various diverse projects such as building a billycart, stud frame walls, various types of (wood) joints, constructing a cubby house, designing and building bunk beds, laying out the base dimensions for a new home, assembling a roof, your very own dunny hole, wardrobes, coffee tables, and a rocking chair.

   Its not the projects so much as it's the basic techniques you'll learn in the process. Besides, you never know; there are days when you have a house full of company that a private dunny hole might ease the pressure (so to speak).

   Along the way, you'll discover the correct way to hammer, how to sharpen knives and chisels without using blood as a lubricant, and all about nuts, washers, bolts, nails, and screws. Also, basic tools such as levels, bevels, squares, drills, saws, files, etc. are well covered.

   Bob makes an important point that the novice is better served starting off with hand tools. Electric tools, with their power and speed, greatly increase the probability of disaster (including injury). However, he'll have a hard time selling that to the typical American who defines his favorite tool as "anything with a trigger.?

   So, jump in the billycart, mind your noggin, and have a cuppa as you head for the dunny hole (sorry).

   Seriously, although Dr. Bob's book may be written for woodworking idiots (like me), it's certainly not written by one. Woodworking for Idiots is a well-designed, delightfully written primer on woodworking techniques that will have you smiling as you learn. And it's a great reference to keep handy for future use.

   Goodonyer, Dr. Bob. (See below for American translations).

   Dr. Bob Rich is an unusual man with many talents. Besides being a psychologist, he is a successful editor, the author of 13 published books--of which several have won awards, and a mudsmith. His books include one on designing and building your own house, three books in the general field of psychological self-help, an award-winning non-fiction that's a tribute to his mother, four science fiction books in the series called the Stories of the Ehvelen, and two short story collections. He also sponsors a monthly newsletter, Bobbing Around, in his spare time. Go to his website for more information. You won't regret the visit, and while you're there, order one of his books.

A brief reference to Aussie-speak
Australian American
billycartsoapbox
spanneradjustable wrench
nogginframing cross-brace
newspaper cuttingnewspaper clipping
recipeplans
cubby houseplay house
pegsstakes
wind-in-tapetape rule
cuppacup of tea
dunny holeouthouse
jemmycrowbar
roastaboutday laborer
flyscreenscreen door
skewnailingtoenailing
goodonyerway to go
mudsmithconstructing with mud bricksRon Peter

Review by Ron Peters, award-winning author of the tongue-in-cheek Dun Wheeling PI series: SOS (no, this isn't about anything on a shingle), Night Before August, Castles of Deceit, and just arriving, Sphere of Reason. Dun will capture your heart with bursts of laughter. www.ronpeters.net.


A response

The review first appeared in my newsletter. A person who chose to remain anonymous sent the following:

Dear Bob. I thought that review of your woodworking book by that upstart American writer certainly missed the mark: Namely, that your eBook uses the King's English. How any Yank could poke fun at such words as dunny hole and cuppa, when their bastardized and convoluted language now requires its own dictionary, is beyond me.

   For example, who could ever guess the meaning of phrases like, "she's a fox," or "I liked it--not!" or "that's cool," or even "you're shitting me." Really, what a barbarian linguistic process.

   No matter, Dr. Bob. We love you, and we love your book. It's cool...ah, right grand.

Anonymous :o)

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