BOOK REVIEW: The Artisan Furnituremaker by Darrell Peart

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The Artisan Furnituremaker: A Creative Survival Guide by Darrell Peart
Author: Darrell Peart
Published by: Linden Publishing
Printed in China
Published: 2023
Colour Illustrations
Pages: 116
RRP: $26.95 USD

Book review by Dan Dwyer

Darrell Peart is an American woodworker based in Seattle, WA. Peart is an authority on Greene and Greene design, and the history of the Greene brothers. In The Artisan Furnituremaker, Peart uses Greene and Greene to illustrate the three essential requirements for success in custom furniture design: creativity, design and workmanship. Such was my ignorance, Greene and Greene was new to me. I enjoyed reading about the legendary exemplars of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

In The Artisan Furnituremaker, Peart has recorded a lifetime of lessons both in the workshop and beyond. While the context is American, these lessons can be of benefit to any woodworker who is taking on a commercial focus. For example, one of Peart’s early mistakes was giving away design drawings for free. Peart had an enquirer take a drawing and commission the piece at a cheaper rate with another unscrupulous woodworker. The lesson: charge an hourly rate for design and ensure that the drawing remains the property of the designer.

Peart is a great-grandfather. One of the benefits of a long-life well-lived is having survived many economic cycles. Peart found himself in a post-9/11 recession. His order book had dried up and he had to re-think his way of working or face potential ruin. The author overcame this challenge by using design rules but relying on his intuition. Peart reworked his old drawings and offered a discount on the first commission for each of the new designs. He was overwhelmed with the response and entered a new phase of his creativity.

My one bugbear was the quality of the book’s production – I questioned the type of binding and use of cheesy clip art from Wikipedia. However, overall, I would recommend this book to any woodworker who is keen to learn from Peart’s mistakes and glean knowledge from a lifetime of woodworking.

Dan Dwyer is a Melbourne woodworker and contributor to Australian Wood Review magazine.

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