My ‘other life’ is in publishing. Magazine publishing to be exact. Over the years, I’ve earned a crust as a designer/art director on several blue-chip titles, and I continue to design both print magazines, books and increasingly, digital titles. I’d like to think I know a thing or two about how content needs to be designed to be readable, informative and interesting.
Recently, my woodworking and publishing worlds collided, when I stumbled on the ‘Woodworker Handbooks’ series of books by Charles Hayward. The series was first published by Evans Brothers Limited in 1950. I’ve started collecting the reprints from 1960, the hardbacks with black bands on the covers. Several publishers re-printed the titles later on, but I have heard they were considerably ‘dumbed down’, after the 70’s. I am so impressed with these books from the 60’s though, the quality of their information and the way they have been designed. Charles Hayward’s text explains each process so fantastically well, I decided to research this man a bit more.
Charles Hayward probably served some sort of carpentry apprenticeship before the 1914-1918 war, as at that time he joined the Royal Artillery. After the war, he joined ‘The Woodworker’ magazine (published by Evans Brothers), as an assistant to the editor.
When war erupted again in 1939, he was not a participant in it, but when war was declared the editor of ‘The Woodworker’ fled to a remote part of Scotland, never to be heard of again. Thus Hayward became editor of ‘The Woodworker’ and took the magazine from strength to strength.
Post-war, Hayward had assistant editors, but the magazine was created primarily around his own vision. All the ideas for projects in the magazine were his own. The pieces in the magazine were almost certainly made in his own workshop. In the Evans Brothers building he had a photographic studio with a workbench which he used when photographing constructional details. The finished projects were photographed using s small 2″ x 2″ plate camera. In a small darkroom he developed the plates and made enlargements.
The drawings, both technical and illustrative, were also his own work. He then wrote the text. It is an extraordinary feat to produce a magazine in this way. He was virtually a one-man publisher.
As well as running the magazine almost single-handedly, he found time to write the textbooks I recently stumbled on. The books, I think, used visuals and text already shot for the magazine, and would have needed again to be edited for the book format, meaning a whole lot more work.
So far, I have found ‘Carpentry for Beginners’, Cabinet Making for Beginners’ and ‘Woodwork Joints’, all of which I think are superb.
In the series I’m collecting, I think I still have another nine or ten to find. I would recommend them highly, if you’re an amateur woodworker, like me.