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This Is Wood Work, Not Play

March 17, 2001|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BOOKS

The editors of Fine Woodworking magazine know most crafters wouldn't mind emulating classic furniture styles. To that end, they've come out with "In the Craftsman Style: Building Furniture Inspired by the Arts & Crafts Tradition" and "In the Shaker Style: Building Furniture Inspired by the Shaker Tradition" (each $25, Taunton Books, 2001).

You don't have to dig far to see that these projects aren't for beginners. Anyone with intermediate experience can probably finish them but experts and near-experts have the best chance. Still, if you like a challenge, these books are good. The steps are clear and the outcome, if it's anything like the finished furniture shown, is striking.

Both books follow the pattern that has made Fine Woodworking popular: Many photos accompany the detailed directions that allow you to check progress and fix mistakes as they happen. Craftsman-style projects include a Stickley-style chair, end tables, coffee tables and cabinets.

There are similar plans in the Shaker book and instructions for a tall clock, workbenches and oval boxes. Noted woodworkers such as Chris Becksvoort, Ian Ingersoll, Dave Sigman and Patrick Nelson walk you through their favorite projects.

The introductions about the history of both traditions are fairly routine, but interesting facts emerge. Take the Shakers' devotion to unadorned designs. Everyone knows the designs reflect the Shakers' humble spiritualism but the practical turns up in every angle. Like all of us, the Shakers hated dust and found that simple, often square-edged pieces collected less and were easier to clean.

Dip Into This

In Southern California, it's never too early to think about pool or spa time. If you're thinking about putting one in or just curious about the possibilities, check out Pool & Spa Living's annual Buyers' Guide ($4.95, on magazine racks). There are lots of ads to push through but also good facts on prices and features.

There are sections on above-ground and in-ground pools, cleaners, chemicals, covers, heaters and pool furniture. There's also information on hot tubs as well as spa chemicals, covers, pumps, filters and pool toys. As for the envy factor, the many photos of exotic pools both big and small are likely to get you wishing.

Most of the companies in the buyers' guide have Web sites.

THE WEB / Poolside Chats Go High Tech

That Home Site! has a pool and spa forum (http://forums.thathomesite.com/forums/pools/) that is frequently visited by people with questions and answers. Currently, the discussion includes pool and spa decorating, water-based bacteria and diseases, and the joys (and troubles) of backyard nudity.

And what about an abandoned pool? If you think it can just be filled with dirt and forgotten, think again. There are several suggestions here.

In the Swim

Another useful site is Growing Lifestyle (http://www.growinglifestyle.com). Type in "pools" in the search engine on the opening page and you'll go to a comprehensive links area with articles about pool upkeep and aesthetics, forums and other locations with more information.

Growing Lifestyle is a valuable destination for anything related to home and garden.

* To have a book or Web site considered for this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail at mark.smith@ latimes.com.

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