Woodwork Tools And How To Use Them by William Fairham The Woodworker Series, Evans Bros., London 1922



"...to know just how to handle and manipulate the saw or the plane or the chisel to effect the desired result with a minimum of effort and without injury to either tool or material - that is knowledge worth having..." William Fairham

Woodwork Tools was published c1922 as part of The Woodworker Series, by Evans Bros., London. Authored by William Fairham, a well-respected practicing woodworker and technical school instructor, Woodwork Tools introduces both the basics of hand tool use as well as advanced techniques.

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: The Toolemera Press (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780982532997
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

Editorial Introduction by Gary Roberts

“To most of us the use of a saw or a plane or a chisel is obvious. We know what each can do and we have seen each do it. But to know just how to handle and manipulate the saw or the plane or the chisel to effect the desired result with a minimum of effort and without injury to either tool or material - that is knowledge worth having, and the earlier it is acquired the better.”

Editorial Forward: Woodwork Tools; J. C. S. Brough

The Woodworker Series of books, first published by Evans Bros. of London during the early years of the 20th Century, were intended for instructors and students of Manual Arts classes. In many cases derived from articles first printed in The Woodworker, a monthly journal of craft also published by Evans, The Woodworker Series expanded upon the material of the journal to produce a classic series that remains applicable and valuable today.

William Fairham authored the majority of these titles, the complete list of which can be found in this reprint. Who Fairham was, from what town or city he came and where he worked is not yet known. Brough comments on Fairham in his Foreward:

“The Author of this volume is a man not only of wide experience in practical woodwork, but who has for many years been an Instructor at Technical Schools, and has also the additional advantage of having an intimate knowledge of all kinds of woodworking tools and machinery.”

Fairham authored Woodwork Tools as well as drew the many illustrations, with assistance from Mr. Edgar Newton. In Woodwork Tools, Fairham covers all manner of saws, planes, boring tools, chisels, scrapers and even glasspaper. Miscellaneous tools are reviewed, from saw sets to screwdrivers. Throughout the book, illustrations provide the reader with the necessary guides to the setup, care and use of tools in methods both safe and efficient. Fairham’s knowledge of hand tools is an invaluable resource for both the beginning and the advanced woodworker of today.

Following Fairham came Charles Hayward, who also wrote for Evans Bros. Given the nearly 50 years between the publication dates of the books, it’s quite likely Fairham had died by the time Evans Bros. chose to re-issue various titles of The Woodworker Series.

I prefer the books of William Fairham to those of Charles Hayward. In comparing the two authors, it’s apparent the Hayward revisions were meant to update the Fairham books to meet the mid-20th Century expectations of avocational and vocational woodworkers.

Fairham provides those illustrations that are necessary for the student or instructor to understand what is intended. His text explains the reasoning behind the use or application of a given tool, technique or material with the understanding that the practitioner will benefit from the educational process of interpreting the content of the books rather than adhering to a strict set of guidelines. Fairham does not crowd his books with an excess of illustrations or descriptions, rather he urges the reader to use the information as the basis from which to create craftwork.

Hayward can be unnecessarily complex in his descriptions and illustrations, an approach I attribute to the influence of the mid-20th Century Machine Age society on the manual arts. The more complex a process was, the more important it must be. Our respect for handwork gave way to respect for machine made work comprised of replicable precision components.

The Manual Arts Educational Movement

The Manual Arts movement saw handcrafts as a necessary element in the educational and social development of young men and women. The Manual Arts classes of the day used handcrafts to instruct the student in the development of concentration, physical coordination, imagination, dexterity, mathematics, spatial perception and intuitive reasoning. By the 1940’s such coursework became known as vocational education and by the 1960’s, was on the wane in both U.S. and European educational systems.