Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 09:22 am GMT -7 Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 09:22 am GMT -7Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 09:22 am GMT -7
 
Understanding Wood book front cover

A gorgeous book on a beautiful subject. I learned a lot about model airplane building from this one.

 

 

 

Summary

At about 300 pages and full of color pictures and illustrations, this large format book could be mistaken for a coffee table book. It is not. Despite the great pictures and well-written text, it is an in-depth look at wood for those that work with it. The book’s subtitle sums it up best: A Craftsman’s Guide to Wood Technology.

The author, R. Bruce Hoadley, has spent a lifetime studying wood and its properties. He received a doctorate in wood technology from Yale and is a wood science college professor.

The book is divided into three parts. Part one, The Nature of Wood and Its Properties, discusses wood as it exists in nature and its properties as a raw material.

Part two, Basics of Wood Technology, talks about working with wood.

Finally, part three, The Woodworker’s Raw Materials, is a great look at wood as a commercial product. Besides a discussion of the commercial lumber industry, the part takes a look at engineered wood products like plywood and particleboard.

The Good

Pictures work great to illustrate hard to describe concepts. The full color pictures in the book are excellent. You will learn a lot just from looking at the pictures and reading their captions.

Chapter four, entitled Strength of Wood, will pay for the book by itself. Through the use of simple formulas and clear explanations, the chapter is packed full of information about building effectively with wood.

I really enjoyed the section called Psychological Properties. In it, the author recognizes the great emotional appeal that wood has for many.

The chapter on adhesives and glues is specially relevant for model airplane applications.

The book even manages to include some humor. A half serious paragraph discusses the excellent adhesion properties of water, as long as the temperature is kept below 32 F (0 C).

Understanding Wood book front cover

The Bad

I could quibble about the price, but a great book like this one is always hard to find on the used book market. That keeps the price of the used copies relatively high.

I could also quibble about the encyclopedic coverage of wood subjects, not all of which are relevant to model airplane applications. But they helped frame the subjects that were relevant, leading to a more interesting and educational experience.

If I had to find a weak spot, it would probably be the last chapter on sources of wood. Not that the chapter is particularly bad. But his need for generality hurt the usefulness of the chapter. For example, he mentions the Internet as a source of wood, but fails to give any web site references for fear that they would soon be out of date.

The Ugly

I did not find any serious problems with this book.

Conclusion

This book has it all. Great pictures, interesting reading, and authoritative information. Every time I pick up my copy I start reading and learn something new.

Wood as a model airplane construction material is not going away any time soon. This is a great way to learn a lot more about this fascinating material from nature.

5 / 5 stars      

Click here to buy Understanding Wood at Amazon.

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