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Woodworking in Estonia

It is said to be _one of the best books on folk woodworking ever_ and covers the entire woodworking history of Estonia.
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By Ants Viires; translation by Mart Aru

It_s one of Roy Underhill_s three favorite woodworking books, but you can_t buy a copy of it for love or money. Translated into English without the author_s permission in the late 1960s, _Woodworking in Estonia_ has been a cult classic ever since it first surfaced.

It is, according to Underhill, _one of the best books on folk woodworking ever_ and covers the entire woodworking history of this small Northern European nation from pre-historical times through occupation by the Germans and Soviets up through Estonian independence.

The author, Ants Viires, devoted his life to recording the hand-tool folkways of his country without a shred of romanticism. Viires combined personal interviews and direct observation of work habits with archaeological evidence and a thorough scoring of the literature in his country and surrounding nations.

If all this sounds like a dry treatise, it_s not. _Woodworking in Estonia_ is an important piece of evidence in understanding how our ancestors worked wood and understood it more intimately than we do. Viires records in great detail everything from the superstitions surrounding the harvesting of wood (should you whistle in the forest?) to detailed descriptions of how the Estonians dried the wood, bent it, steamed it and every buried it in horse dung to shape it for their needs.

Viires covers, in detail, the hand tools used by the Estonian, including many that will be unfamiliar to moderns (a beehive turner?). He then discusses all the different products Estonians made for their own use and for sale in the markets, including bent-wood boxes, chairs, chests, tables, sleds, carriages, spinning wheels, spoons, tobacco pipes, bowls and beer tankards.

While not a book of plans, _Woodworking in Estonia_ is a source of immense inspiration for any woodworking looking to forge a close relationship with wood and the things that can be made from it.

Lost Art Press spent more than two years bringing this book back to life. We contacted the author before his death in 2015 to secure rights for the first authorized English translation. Using the 1996 Estonian edition of the Estonian book, we commissioned a new English translation.

We also obtained the rights to the original photos and drawings. The 1969 unauthorized translation used poorly reproduced images, likely mimeographs, which were murky and dark. This edition contains more than 240 crisp, original photos and line drawings.

Like all Lost Art Press books, _Woodworking in Estonia_ is produced entirely in the United States. The hardbound book is 304 pages on heavy paper stock. The pages are sewn and then glued with fiber tape to last lifetimes. And the cover is wrapped in cotton cloth with a foil diestamp.

A Public Service

_Woodworking in Estonia_ is one of the most specialized titles we_ve published in the last 10 years. We_re completely delighted with it, but we know that many customers will be scratching their heads when deciding if they should add it to their library.

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