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Graham Blackburn


Image: Graham Blackburn

I was introduced to Graham Blackburn's books when my co-editor found me floundering in Patrick O'Brian's nautical fiction. I'm afraid I resembled little Henry Ellis, swept overboard, "his face straining up out of the water, amazed", his hands stretching up to catch the flying line thrown to him, but missing their hold. "Then he was away behind, bobbing on the wake" (Master and Commander).

David sent a jolly-boat after me – Blackburn's Illustrated Dictionary of Nautical Terms (Overlook Press: 1981). Halliards, bunt-lines, clew-lines, brails, starboard and larboard – I needed to learn everything - became clear as day in Blackburn's lucid illustrated book. I was impressed by Graham Blackburn's Nautical Dictionary. Yesterday I realized he had much more up his sleeve.

Graham Blackburn was born and trained in London. He built his first house in Woodstock, New York, over twenty-five years ago. Since then he has written more than a dozen books on all aspects of housebuilding, interior carpentry and basic woodwork, as well as books on traditional woodworking, cabinetmaking, furniture making, handtools and design.

He is the author of the Illustrated Encylopedia of Woodworking Handtools, which the Wall Street Journal called "A work of love and a work of art." He published the Illustrated Book of Housebuilding & Carpentry, described by Popular Science as "the book to set your thinking straight." Those interested in maintaining their house will find Year-Round House Care, which the San Francisco Chronicle called "A no-nonsense book with on-target coverage of the things you need to know about protecting your investment."? You can find his books here.


Image: Graham Blackburn

About Blackburn’s book on traditional woodworking handtools a reviewer wrote -

Graham Blackburn provides precise descriptions regarding the history, form, function and use of all the old tools. He applies this wonderfully researched information to today's world of noisy, expensive power tools - showing many benefits to doing things the old and often better way. He doesn’t suggest that you trash your tablesaw, drillpress or router, but offers effective alternatives that have increased my enjoyment of woodworking as a hobby. I've spent hundreds on woodworking titles, but none have had such a profound influence as this.

Meanwhile Blackburn has been running his own custom furniture making shop. He's an active man, after Jack Aubrey's own heart.


Comments (1)

With all the falderal going on these days on a global scale, it is wonderful to think small, think quality, think craftmanship. Thanks for the fine reflection on Mr. Blackburn.

And let us never forget the immortal words of Rat in Wind in the Willows:

"There is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Cheers

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