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Stimulating... but plugged
on 11 September 2013
I don't have the book in front of me though it made a HUGE impression on me when I first read it and I'm writing it with the perspective of what it taught me and hindsight.
Pocket holing was something of a mystery to me till I bought this book, which presented me with a series of Ah-ha! moments and saved me buying The Wrong Stuff.
His designs are really simple and capable of boggling attractive results with no joinery experience needed. The essential tools are a) a pocket hole jig and b) a mitre saw. The system relies on being able to cut square ended bits of stick, and the m-saw is the surest way of doing it (every bloke should be given one as a rite of passage anyway, together with a good cordless screwdriver and a drill. With these he can basically build anything from a chopping board to a house. I digress)
Mitre saw? Oh, yes, miter saw. sorry. It'll give you square ended pieces of wood, from which joints basically self-align. If you've the skill to do this with a tenon saw, you're perfectly capable of cutting mortice and tenon joints or dovetails and probably won't have much use for pocket hole joinery. You need a mitre saw, period. Panels can be cut by any good wood yard, but you need to cut sticks.
The book.. explains it all, really. Step by step and in detail,though as all America-based authors do, he assumes everybody can purchase good-quality, imperial-sized "lumber" rather than the hydroponically-grown warped and undersized tat that seems to be all that the DIY superstores in dear old Blighty seem capable of gutting us with. Try getting a piece of "three-quarter inch maple" or "quarter-sawn white oak, inch thick..." over here without having to sell body parts to cover the cost. The method still works regardless, and with a little translation it's possible to apply the ideas to 18mm soft pine when you can't find 3/4" cedar, for example.
I'm not terribly keen on Danny's use of contrasting filling plugs to make a feature of the holes (see the book cover for the emphasized oval hole plugs.) It can give everything a mass-produced gift-shop look and is contrary to the whole hidden fixing raison d'etre of the system, but it's an interesting technique nevertheless and may appeal to some. It may be a cultural thing - folk from the rebel colonies tend to go in for contrasting woods in their pieces whereas we subjects of King George tend to prefer a more repressed and unadventurous conservatism in our furniture.
Other than for these minor issues, which are very subjective and beyond the issue of directly applying the information in a non-USA location which is, arguably, no failing on the book's part, I recommend the book wholeheartedly. As I can't give it 9/10, I'll have to gve it four stars.