Sunday, December 27, 2015

Campaign furniture, a book review.

Given that the weather on the Norwegian west coast has been bad ever since I signed on the ship, there really hasn't been any possibilities of starting a project.

I did however bring with me a copy of Campaign furniture by Chris Schwartz.

The book is written in a clear and informative language, and there are loads of historical informations to be found.

The projects found in the book strikes me as very well chosen. Based on that they can be used in a normal household today.
I am pretty sure that CS also knows how to make a campaign bed, but that would probably be more of a curiosity to most people, and not something that a lot of people would actually make.
The projects do not appear to be listed according to their difficulty, but more based on how popular that type of project was originally.

In the beginning of the book a lot of general information on campaign furniture is given, changes in styles through the years. General information on hardware and wood species etc.
I personally like the small quotes from older books, such as a guide to India travelers and small original ads for companies that supplied campaign furniture 150 years ago. These small distractions engage my sense of curiosity and imagination.

There is also a whole lot of general information on joinery techniques, and techniques for installing hardware, with all the small but important information provided. Especially when it come to the descriptions on how to install hardware, the book is very thorough. This is in my opinion a very noble approach, as the hardware installation is often a "make or break" operation on a piece of furniture.
The reader is taken step by step through the installation of half mortise locks and corner guards etc. with clear pictures and instructions.
In my opinion the best example of the thoroughness of those descriptions is that CS explains that typically a corner guard will have a very slight radius on the inside corners. And next he describes how to deal with this.
That is information I haven't seen anywhere else. Actually the book can be recommended just based on the instructions for installing hardware.

Regarding the projects themselves, the instructions are equally clear and informative. Each build is described in a logical sequence, and operations that might be difficult are explained in detail regarding what can be done to ensure a success.
There are no descriptions of the exact hardware needed for each project, which is kind of liberating. I guess this is done to allow the builder to use whatever hardware is obtainable in that persons part of the World.

As usual with books from Lost Art Press, the book itself oozes of quality. Nice binding, thick paper, good looking photos and drawings etc.
I would recommend the book to anyone remotely interested in items of campaign style, and also to those who are looking for some detailed instructions in how to mount hardware.

If you should you purchase the book, or the electronic version or both depends on how you like to read. But the book itself is a handy size and of such a quality that it is a joy to read it. So I would just go with the hardbound book. But then again, I am pretty conservative when it comes to things like that.


  1. Good review Jonas. I passed on this book because the subject matter did not arise my curiosity, but i think i will give it another look based on your recommendations.

    Best regards and stay safe at sea

    1. Hi Bob.

      Thanks for the comment.
      Maybe you could borrow the book at the local library first before you make up your mind?

      I guess that a lot of people would buy the book based on the section on Rorkhee chairs alone, and that is quite understandable.
      But as I write in the review, the section on installing hardware is very well written, and covers the methods deeply. Probably because there is so much extra hardware in forms of corner guards and brass strips etc.


  2. The good part about the ebook version is it is much cheaper. One could print out the relevant pages to take to the shop.

    That being said, at this very moment my proper copy is downstairs on my work bench.

    1. That is true, but you would have to make sure your printer was working, and that there was power on the electronic device, those are fairly heavy obstacles in my opinion :-)

      For someone slightly more modern than me, an ebook might actually be a good idea.

      Cheers Jonas

  3. I like the LAP books just because of their look and feel. Over all, I'm not a big fan of campaign style furniture, though I do think it is interesting-in particular the history behind it. At this time I couldn't see myself attempting a project, but the book may be a good historical reference, and who knows, my tastes may change. At that, I enjoyed your review, and I look forward to any projects you may be attempting from the book

  4. Hi Bill.

    I would like to try make a set of traveling bookcases, our daughter is planning to attend a boarding high school instead of the local high school. Because she wants all her classes to be taught in English if possible. So it would come in handy for her room.

    I am also thinking of making a cheap sea going version of a Rorkee chair. with whatever I can find out here as materials.

    My biggest problem with the campaign furniture is that the hardware is rather pricey, but I know that once I build something that looks good, I quickly forget the price anyway.