“Memories of a Sheffield Tool Maker” by Ashley Iles
I just read "Memories of a Sheffield Tool Maker" by Ashley Iles on the recommendation of Chris Schwatz on his "Woodworking Magazine" blog. Great book.
It is only available from the Tools for Working Wood website as it is now out of print.
I love history, woodworking and tools and this book weaves all three together into a fascinating portrait of life in Sheffield England in the first half of the twentieth-century. Ashley Iles started his tool business in what was the cradle of the tool world at that time, and the names of his associates and competitors have become legendary tool-makers and companies that you will still recognize today. As a Pittsburgher I have seen this city in the U.S. lose its steel-working industry much as Sheffield lost the majority of its tool making industry as the century moved on.
The environment in Pittsburgh may be cleaner, but we have also lost a lot of skill and knowledge as a society that these people knew better than could ever be preserved in print.
We need more books like this one to keep this history of the skilled trades alive.