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Old-school reading for high-tech wood turners

It’s in classic technical manuals that we find some truly inspirational wood turning. Where else would you see a lathe operator in a three piece suit? But many of the books written in the early 20th century have turned to dust. Thankfully, the internet has saved a couple of significant volumes.  You Turn is very pleased to share the love.

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know – you can still buy this wood turning book on Amazon.  Why is that odd?  Because it was written in 1909 (This edition dates from 2008).  At $10, it’s not going to set you back a fortune (until you add postage).

But before you rush off to get a copy, read on.

George Alexander Ross wrote this with technical college students in mind.  It starts with a brief history of wood turning, then quickly turns into a large set of exercises, complete with plans (drawn by hand, of course).

Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, the book has been digitised, and can now be read on your computer via  As they say on their website,

“This little work is sent out with the hope that it may prove of practical benefit to those into whose hands it may come.”

Wood Turning text written in 1909

But if you think that’s impressive – hey, wake up! – you’re going to love a visit to Project Gutenberg.  There, you’ll find a completely digitised copy of A Course In Wood Turning by Archie Seldon Milton and Otto K. Wohlers AND in various eBook formats as well.  For free.

What I really like about these old texts is the level of attention to detail.  Where else would you find someone turning wood in a three piece suit?  Besides which, the projects are – by and large – still relevant today – especially if you like making reproduction pieces.

So grab your favourite device (well, next favourite after the lathe), and spend some non-shed time dreaming up your next project.



Please add the title of your work, a brief caption, and your name.

Title: Oak bowl
Description/caption: Mike Jones’ oak bowl
Author: Mike Jones