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With Wakened Hands [Paperback]

James Krenov , Seth Janofsky

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In the 20 years since he left Sweden and began teaching and writing in America, James Krenov has caused a quiet revolution among woodworkers and cabinetmakers. This volume presents photos of Krenov's own cabinets alongside furniture designed and made by his students. Included are short essays by Krenov, along with remarks by his former students on his role in their lives, their own views on craftsmanship, their material, and their lives as craftsmen. Krenov's thoughts on why he works with wood, on working with colour and figure variations in wood, and on crafsmanship will interest novice and experienced woodworkers alike.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of success 7 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book is quite different from Krenov's other, often intensely personal books. His motivation, in large part, is to make the case for his student's furniture, and only by extention his own work, and methods of work. He is concerned that the market hasn't a place for such work, and he hopes to make a place for it through this book. Krenov's previous stance in the Impractical Cabinetmaker, wasn't concerned with lack of viability, but the market has changed, and his students aspirations have apparently influenced him.
The last book Krenov published prior to this effort was Worker in Wood in 1981. In the intervening time, a great deal of his efforts have been spent establishing the Woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in California. When I first heard that Krenov was writing another book I had hoped he would bring us up to date on his approach to woodwork, twenty years later. It is clear when you look at some of his recent work that it is quite different from where he was 20 years ago. It is also clear that some of the techniques then used have changed. It would be fitting if rather than the older books simply being republished, he could bring his many admirers up to date with a new volume.
While this book is well done, and shows many handsome photographs, there isn't much new. Many of the pictures have appeared previously in other publications, and the text, while powerful in places, is scant. It is rather like a catalogue to an exhibition. A dialogue between Krenov, his star pupils, and potential purchasers of their work.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great examples of wonderful work 31 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
let me first say that readers of the first three krenov books should NOT expect this book to be the same. whatever reason krenov wrote this book (explained at the beginning of the book) is not as important to me as what i actually use this book for, which is inspiration. It also gives me a goal to live up to, a self goal to make furniture at such a high level of refinement. This book contains many many beautiful examples of selected work from krenov and his students, all finely crafted. to me these examples that krenov have chosen from his students' work are in a sense extensions of krenov's own work - interpretations of his style done in comparable quality. there is also some text if you value the insight and opinions of krenov. that's pretty much what the book is: lots of examples of fine work, text with insight and opinions. stuff like this from a master craftsman such as krenov is, to me, invaluable.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bless for Krenov readers 29 Jun 2001
By Juan Hernandez-Rubio - Published on Amazon.com
Krenov books are almost perfect , but they have a substantial imperfection in having most of the pictures black and white. This last book corrects this imperfection offering superb color pictures of superb work. Magnificent examples of craftmanship, wise thoughts, and a contagious love for working with wood. A must for Krenov readers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great photos highlight excellent craft 21 Dec 2005
By Dennis Mitton - Published on Amazon.com
Another must have for fans of Krenov. There's little instruction here (see his other books) but tons of great photos of gorgeous furniture. The Krenovian philosophy of craft is obvious with its focus on handwork and natural materials and there is a good bit of repetition in reference to his other books and publications. If Krenov's furniture appeals to you this book will be a delight.
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn From Life And Be Fascinated... 15 May 2013
By E. Sincox - Published on Amazon.com
This is my fifth James Krenov book and the last of five he wrote before his passing. My version is soft-bound, but the quality is still quite high. After 13 years, the spine and binding seems to be holding up very well. The paper is a good thickness, the text is easy to read and sans serif. Most importantly, the photos are high quality and matte finished. They are well-framed and properly lit to show you all of the grain detail as well as the form. All of this makes for a quality publication.

In truth, if you have not yet picked up any of the James Krenov books to read, this might very well be the best one to start off with! It is lighter on discussion than the other books, and heavier on pictures, with the main focus being to share with you some of the works completed by him and his students at the College of the Redwoods. His goal is, "... to bring this refined work to the attention of the public." He wants to connect with the kind of woodworker who strives for a greater degree of success, and inspire them to do just that.

The book is broken down into five sections: Workmanship, Teaching, Wood, Creativity, and Fingerprints. The first section is a discussion about the quest for quality. In covering this topic, Mr. Krenov gives us a pretty good synopsis of his life to-date and explains his current role in the school. With references to not buying freshly cut wood anymore or not working in the shop with the students as much as he used to, it is quite evident he is aware of, and has come to terms with, his mortality.

The second section begins with greater detail about the College of the Redwoods, going into the reasons why he started there, though he was propositioned by several private schools, and giving us a rundown of how the program works. If you focus on any text in this book, please make it the second part of Section Two, where he discusses how to get the most joy and satisfaction out of woodworking.

In the section on Wood, Mr. Krenov highlights the absolute importance of not only picking the right wood for your project, but in understanding that wood and its properties in order to make an intimate connection between you and the project. But what should you really take from this section?

"Get wood. Get all you can, and then get some more."

One thing Mr. Krenov hopes all students of the College of the Redwoods leaves with is the ability to follow the creative process, from beginning to end, with their work. This is covered in the fourth section, Creativity. Learning how to take an idea from sketch to mock-up to finished piece, dealing with mistakes along the way, is an important part of your work.

Finally, in the last part of the book, he offers his insight on leaving fingerprints in your work, doing things to make it your own. This includes everything from wood selection to design, surface texture to joinery, hardware to finish.

After everything I've said thus far, I have to be honest with you. I'm not sure I can write a review or summary of this book that is better than the one-line inscription to the previous owner in blue sharpie on the first page of the copy I own:

"To my woodworker, May you continue to learn from life and be fascinated."

Yeah, that about sums it up.
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