Hand-Built Outdoor Furniture lives up to its subtitle – these are projects anyone can make using only a few inexpensive tools. The book is beautifully laid out and very easy to follow. Photographs of the finished projects, steps, and tools/techniques make it a friendly and frustration-fee experience. The book isn’t intended to create works of art; the pieces are basic but functional and made from materials found at all hardware stores (a mitre saw and cordless drill are the core tools). More importantly, the projects upon each other in difficulty and skills so that by the end project, readers will be comfortable with foundational woodworking techniques.
The book breaks down as follows: Part 1 thoroughly discusses the basics of woodworking tools and machines as well as construction techniques. Part 2 gives step by step directions for each project. The projects include: shaker pegboard shelves, garden swing, trellis, plant shelf, stair box planter, two board bench, flower box, bird house, nautical themed end table, potting bench, rolling coffee table, sectional furniture with storage/lounger, slat bench, bistro table, torchiere, international orange chair, sectional furniture with storage: chair, chaise longue, sectional furniture with storage: ottoman, and an obelisk.
As noted earlier, the projects are organized by difficulty. After the first 3-4 items are built, readers can then cherry pick through the rest of the book, with an idea of the difficulty depending on how far into the later projects they go. Although instructions for a wide range of woodworking machines are given, the emphasis is not on huge machine investments.
There are some very lovely projects in the book. The slat bench and storage ottomans are particularly nice. But likely many will start with the various planters or shelves. An emphasis on counterboring and plugging screw holes is utilized for all the projects – this ensures a better looking end product.
Author Jackson is a woodworking instructor and provides a friendly and uncomplicated tone throughout the book. Because the book is so beautifully laid out and photographed, there is little in the way of confusion or frustration to keep projects from being completed. And since there aren’t many tools required, this is definitely a book that absolute beginners with no tools or experience can feel confident about attempting. As well, the projects all allow for the reader’s own aesthetics in the choice of color, design elements, or embellishments.
This is definitely a wonderful book to help someone begin to learn a new skill or hobby. A small yard, garage, or even balcony are all that’s needed to complete most of these items. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.