Robert W Lang
Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors
Cambium Press, 2003
224 pages, with 200 b&w illustrations, Softcover
WHETHER YOU are patriarch of a Craftsman home that has been in the family for decades, or member of a fledgling family settling into a newly purchased nest, there is a point where a bungalow becomes something more than just a place to hang your hat. It becomes the central element and symbol of warmth and family, of safety- and lasting values. Whether you are just starting out on the road to renovation, fine-tuning a new construction or polishing a lovingly restored gem, you will likely be appreciative of how the interiors of the Craftsman homes were constructed and curious as to why they were made that way.
Robert Lang, the author of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors: Cabinets, Moldings & Built-Ins for Every Room in the Home, has created yet another exceptional book in his woodworking series. His other titles include Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, More Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture and Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays & Hardware, but this one focuses on house fittings instead of Mission-style furniture.
The charming and practical built-in cabinetry, windows, doors, moldings and other detailing are trademarks of the Craftsman style. Master craftsman Lang offers candid, clear and meticulously detailed drawings, descriptions and insider tips covering every aspect, every mitered corner of these marvels of interior design. For anyone wishing to restore, repair, reconstruct, enhance or enrich their home with historically accurate furnishings and details, this book could very well be the Dead Sea Scrolls.
To enlarge the understanding of the design elements, Lang lays down a base coat of background and insight into the philosophy behind Craftsman design — something that is so interwoven into the fabric of the construction as to be an essential element. He quotes many passages from Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman on which these architectural design elements are based, and also analyzes the innovations in the homes and buildings built by Stickley. As Lang writes, “My hope is that with the return of the popularity of the Craftsman style, there will also be a return to the Craftsman ideal. Our children deserve to live in homes that reflect warmth and quality in all things.”
Then he gets down to business, offering an astoundingly practical and clear-cut series of how-tos to satisfy the most critical and demanding craftsman, woodworking hobbyist or wannabe home renovator. His drawings are authentic replicas and offer precise measurements that can easily be interpreted, copied or adapted to individual homes and needs and still be historically and stylistically accurate. He also includes original drawings from The Craftsman that offer interesting points of reference.
Lang has also had the forethought to offer reasonable alternatives to processes and suggests materials that are available today while identifying the differences, offering the reader a choice of faithfully maintaining historical accuracy or making accommodations for modern living. He furthermore lays groundwork for planning before construction— important and practical considerations such as remembering that walls and floors need to be square and built-ins still need to get through doors before installation! There are many such considerations regarding old homes and Lang seems to have thought of them all, which will undoubtedly save individuals enormous effort in the long run.
All details and descriptions are both verbal and visual, and there are cross sections, elevations and various perspectives to make directions clear. Every page is chock-full of working tips coming from Lang’s patrimony of experience, from applying your own veneers to seasoning wood to choosing appropriate handles or fittings to adapting the conventions of 1910 kitchens to those of 2004.
If you are contemplating a project or are in the midst of renovation or restoration of your Craftsman home, Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors should certainly top your list.