I don’t really like the term “Thinking outside the box” so I won’t say that this book is one of those books that makes you do that but, really, it does. Upcycling, recycling, restoration, innovation and much more are all encapsulated here in a book I enjoyed looking through and reading. I thought that you might too. Asa Christiana was a longterm former editor of the US Taunton Press magazine Fine Woodworking with a background in journalism and now freelances as a writer and maker. The book is not so much about him and his work and nor is it at all about fine woodworking. It’s more about eclectics than inventors and presents more an eclectic gathering of eclectic makers working in different fields to take what exists as usable or useful in one realm to upcycle or develop alternatives from something that already exists for use in other realms. I just like the idea of alternative options using the existing. Neat!

So it seems as much less about woodworking than nudging the reader into taking an item and reconsidering its functionality to adapt it for use elsewhere. A leather belt or stuff holder came from new leather, not too innovative, but a series of vintage and perhaps otherwise rejected carry-on sized vintage cases became unique hi-fi boomboxes replete with carrying handles that anyone can make. That I liked! From leaf pictures framed and glazed to concrete topped garden tables or a range of indoor lamps from Kilner (Mason too) jars and copper piping, you can enjoy a trip into new realms of making to complement your woodworking and decorating.

I enjoyed this book which parallels the current trend to furnish and make from scraps what otherwise might never exist. On the one hand you make something with value added and on the other add comfort and restfulness to a log stump were neither chair nor stump would do either without the innovation. Well worth thinking about.


  1. Tom Angle on 28 June 2019 at 5:49 pm

    “indoor lamps from Kilner (Mason too) jars”
    We can/dry our food and I cry when I see an old canning jar used for something other than food storage.

    • David Gaboury on 1 July 2019 at 2:10 pm

      Just as I cry when I see an old handplane sitting on a living room shelf as an ornament. And I can no longer afford to buy said handplane because of their trendiness as decorations.

  2. William Budd on 29 June 2019 at 5:29 am

    This use to be called making do, now it is called repurposing!

    • Paul Sellers on 29 June 2019 at 6:43 am

      Not really. The book is more about rethinking the purpose of things and being creative in an alternative presentation. Yes, ‘making do’ or ‘make do and mend’ is still part of many of our lives, mostly that’s because we are reacting to a certain culture of consumerism to counter that wasteful period we seem to grow favourably towards in arrogance and pride. Just a reaction in the face of consumerist waste to excess

  3. Paul Oram on 29 June 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Love it. This is what I am doing. I find old furniture nobody wants and repurpose it into something else. Its a great way to get seasoned wood (usually solid oak or beech) for next to nothing and I like the creative process involved in having to repurpose something using what you have. Limitations lead to more creative solutions.

    Turning and old oak bed into a garden bench at the moment.

  4. Paul Masseth on 1 July 2019 at 11:17 am

    Growing up in the 60’s, I was introduced to finding uses for items [or parts and bits of items that were being tosses] by my dad who grew up during the depression era. When I reached my late 20’s I was buying up antique furniture to restore. In my 30’s I was reclaiming discarded pieces of furniture and doors, as well any solid wood. In my early 60’s I had recognized the “reclaiming” movement, and started using wood that was made into boards from beams and timber taken from old barns, warehouses, and factories. My workbench I made last winter, [following along youtube series] was made from reclaimed 2’x materials. I’ll have too get a copy of this books as well……Thank you for the
    cue….I find this concept rewarding.

  5. Trevor Pope on 6 July 2019 at 4:23 am

    Asa is a she. If you look at the latest copy of Fine Woodworking, you can see her in the flesh. I mention this only because we need more positive role models in woodworking to encourage women to become woodworkers and enter the technical world in general. You seem to be doing good things in this regard.

    • Paul Sellers on 6 July 2019 at 10:42 am

      Asa Christiana is indeed a he and more likely to be a male name than a female one. I have been with the Asa Christiana I am referring to judging woodworking competition work in the USA and indeed have spoken with him many times on the phone.
      Asa need not be gender specific; in Arabic it is used interchangeably between the sexes. In its origin as a Hebrew name it was the third King of Judah. In different world religions the name is generally attributed to the English word “Hope”. As far as I now only the Swedish use or sued the word to refer to a Norse goddess.
      None of this of course discounts the reality that very few women are drawn to woodworking as a vocational craft. At one time you could have associated this with woodworking being accepted as a male specific craft because dads were generally the ones interested in woodworking, did it, and also men did it for a living and, indeed, women were excluded or even prohibited in schools, but that is not the case any more so it seems more likely that there are fewer opportunities for both male and female to succeed in woodworking as a way of earning a living. In 99% of homes today neither men nor women would ever consider practicing woodworking or any other form of craftwork as part of their lifestyle. I venture to say that in 90% of homes (or even more) it is more likely that parents of both sexes would consider a visit to IKEA as a more important part of their lifestyle than actually making something for their home. Mostly I think that they go for the cheap meatball lunches too.

    • Rick Huber on 9 July 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Watch the latest version of Fine Woodworking Live on their YouTube channel. Asa is the guest and definitely a he.

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