WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Tools Rare and Ingenious

Tools Rare and Ingenious
by Sandor Nagyszalanczy

Taunton Press: 2004
hardback, 210 pp., $37.00
ISBN 1-56158-656-0

     This one must be the ideal gift book for woodworkers. I recommend you leave notes all over the house with the author and title prominently written on them. Mr. Nagyszalanczy wrote The Art Of Fine Tools in 1998, but this time he's gone further afield, visiting museums and private collections across America, England, Germany and Austria. When you sit down with Sandor's new book, you won't find yourself rehashing familiar photos and information, but taking an armchair tour of the finest tool collections in the world.
     The author begins with ancient and primitive tools, then includes fancy and decorated tools, ingenious mechanisms, miniatures, combo tools, prototypes, presentation tools, tools of other trades, and finally, craftsman made tools. He gives a short description of each one and any history known or associated with it.
     The miniatures selected for inclusion here are so finely detailed and functional, you'd never know what they are if not photographed alongside coins, a set of ivory dominoes or their big brother counterparts. There are several scale-size salesman's samples, and exhibition tools such as ship christening mallets and a set of sixty-four fluted, ivory handled turning tools made by Holtzapfel in 1851 for the London Exhibition. In tools from other trades, the author includes a decorated wagon jack, barrel calipers and a cooper's croze plane, patternmaker's tools and drafting tools.
     From an 18th century armorer's saw to folding levels, patternmaker's planes and the first metal plow plane manufactured in America, this book is a satisfying stroll through many varied tool collections. All beautifully photographed by the author, it is a wide-ranging representation of the ingenuity of fine craftsmen throughout history.

. . . Barb Siddiqui