The dean of American woodworkers, Tage Frid has taught generations of students the fundamentals of fine-woodworking. He is the author of a three-volume textbook and a contributing editor for Fine Woodworking magazine.
A Danish cabinetmaker who apprenticed at the age of 13, he went to America in 1948 and became head of the school’s program in woodworking at Alfred University. He later shifted with the school to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he served as professor of woodworking and furniture design until his retirement five years ago.
What Is Tage Frid?
Tage Frid is the Danish-born woodworker, educator and author who helped revive handmade furniture in America. He influenced a new generation of studio furniture makers and was the author of one of the most influential manuals in the field.
Until his retirement five years ago, he was head of the department of woodworking and furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design. His three-volume “Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking” (Taunton Press 1993), is still in print and remains one of the most respected sets of manuals on the subject.
For the past 15 years he and his wife, Emma, have lived in a modern cedar-sided house that sits well back from the street, tucked among tall stands of trees. In his workshop, a 10-minute drive from the house, is a large room, big enough to hold several lathes and other tools. On one wall is a pedestal sideboard that has become a signature piece of his.
Tage Frid’s Work
Tage Frid (1915-2004) was a Danish furniture maker, designer and educator. He wrote a three-volume textbook on woodworking and served as a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking magazine for many years.
In his home, a modern cedar-sided house with low stone fences, a visitor is struck by the furniture of his own making: tables and chairs he designed for a recent Fine Woodworking feature, and a walnut trestle table. Throughout the house are examples in three sizes of the three-legged stool that has become Tage’s signature piece.
His workshop is a 10-minute drive from the house, past harvested fields and Canada geese on their way south to long, flat prairies of turf farms. It’s a big room in a long, low building that houses two other wood shops.
Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking
If you’re looking for a comprehensive, practical set of instructions on the basics of woodworking, this three-volume slipcase set is worth checking out. This innovative book focuses on joinery–from simple tongue-and-groove to more complicated dovetails and multiple-spline miters.
In Book 1 (Joinery), Frid demonstrates how to use hand tools and power tools to prepare wood and make a wide range of joints. This includes through, half-blind and full-blind dovetails, straight and angled finger joints, mock finger joints, and various styles of splined joints.
Next, Frid discusses the process of shaping by carving. He explains how to use a variety of basic carving tools and then demonstrates carving a textured bowl from a block of wood. He then covers spindle turning, face-plate turning and using plywood and veneer. He finishes with inlay and finishing techniques.
Tage Frid’s Books
As one of the most well known and influential woodworkers of the 20th century, Tage Frid has authored a number of books on the subject of woodworking. His three-volume series Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, published by The Taunton Press, has become an essential resource for many woodworkers.
Book 1: Joinery demonstrates essential joinery techniques with pictorial step-by-step demonstrations and clear, concise instructions that can be carried out by anyone at any skill level. Topics include dovetails, through and half-blind dovetails, lock miter dovetails, a variety of splined joints, sliding dovetails, mortise and tenons and much more.
Book 2: Shaping, Veneering and Finishing focuses on shaping by carving, including how to use a variety of scrapers and tools. It also covers turning and faceplate turning. It features 18 projects, including a drawing table, Frid’s well-known workbench, his distinctive three-legged stool, a rocking chair and a grandmother clock. All designs reflect Frid’s Scandinavian heritage and his belief that even the finest furniture should meet the needs of the people who use it.