A Splintered History of Wood

Spike Carlsen, a magazine editor, Minnesotan and all-around cool dude is the author of the book "A Splintered History of Wood". 


In this book, Mr. Carlsen takes you on a wide ranging exploration of wood. Ultimately, what this book gave me was R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for what CAN be done with wood, but little in the way of HOW or WHAT to make myself. The amount of information presented in the numerous practical applications of wood greatly expanded my woodworking knowledge base.

How - Why - What

This book leaves me asking "Why NOT use wood?" when problem-solving the little difficulties encountered in day to day life. Wood has proven it's worth as a material for many years and by learning more about it, we can ensure it has a place in our future as well.

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About the Author

Spike doesn't mind taking the "scenic route" in order to make a point. The good news is that you will be thoroughly entertained along the winding path and the payoff is always worth it. So strap in, and get ready to kick up some mud on the backroads of woodworking history.

About Wood

Most "How to.." woodworking books begin with a section about the properties of wood and tips on selecting and cutting boards. This book also begins by looking at the properties of wood, but from a different perspective. Spike looks at subjects like the "World's Most Expensive Board Foot" and "The Grass That Thinks It's a Wood".

Belt-sander Races, Blind Woodworkers & Baseball Bats

This subtitle is your first indication that anything related to wood is fair game for this engaging and entertaining book. 

This isn't a short book, it is over 358 pages in length. It is a well researched book. The bibliography is 8 pages of small font.

Spike also takes care to include notes along the way if you want to dig deeper on any topic with 13 pages of end notes and 9 pages of references.


I'm going to list the chapters of the book here, just so you can gain an appreciation for how many subjects are covered in this book.

Note: All this information is available, with the subsections of each chapter, on th Amazon.com book preview.
Extraordinary Woods
The Wacky World of Woodworkers
The Tools That Work the Wood
Wood in the World of Music
Wood in the World of Sports
Wood as Shelter
Wood in Day-to-Day Life
Wood, Weapons and War
Wood by Land, Air and Sea
Wood in Unusual Uses and Peculiar Places


I'll admit some potential bias for Spike's particular sense of humor. I'll chalk it up to our shared love of all things Minnesota (Spike has another book out about building a cabin on Lake Superior called "Cabin Lessons", and I highly recommend it).

And although I can generally confirm that "Minnesota Nice" is a real thing, it can sometimes get lost in translation. This is generally due to the fact that language and trends change a lot faster in other parts of the country. I personally didn't get the memo that the word "interesting" had gone through a "Late '90s, bad means good now" style metamorphosis until I told someone that their hat was interesting. The sour look on their face was enough to tell me that I had inadvertently delivered an insult. I happen to like interesting things, but the word had changed into a sort of backhanded compliment. Not my intention and I apologized immediately in typical "Minnesota Nice" fashion.

Why I got this book

I got this book back in 2009 after woodworking for about 5 years. It fulfilled my desire to know more about the many ways wood has impacted life as we know it.

Woodworkers apt to reminisce about the good-ole-days will like the chapter "Wood in Day-to-Day Life", particularly the subsection "When Wood Was Everything and Everything Was Wood"


This book will make you a better woodworker, and here is why.

According to a recent NYTimes article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/opinion/sunday/how-to-raise-a-creative-child-step-one-back-off.html), evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience.

 This book will greatly expand your breadth of knowledge about wood and delivers so many great examples of the possibilities present within this humble material.