One of my wife’s best friends is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher up north. (In my youth, it was called Home Economics and taught mainly to high school girls with a slightly different curriculum.) While out and about, I have found her books from earlier times that reflect the rather stringent gender stereotyping of their time. On a recent trip out I found this one:

Published in 1948 by P. F. Collier & Son, New York.

Published in 1948 by P. F. Collier & Son, New York.

I paid the $16 and took it home without really reading too much in the store. I was intrigued when I looked at the table of contents and saw the title of Chapter 19:

Right between the "Sewing Index" and "Keeping the Home Clean." Click to see the last 6 chapters.

Right between the “Sewing Index” and “Keeping the Home Clean.” Click to see the last 6 chapters.

Amused, I turned to Chapter 19 and was disappointed when I saw this picture:

Dad and son, appropriate for 1948 but still disappointing for the Woman's Home Companion. Click to enlarge.

Dad and son, appropriate for 1948 but still disappointing for the Woman’s Home Companion. Click to enlarge.

Moving on, I kept reading and came across the recommended tool list:

Not a bad basic tool list. Click to see the second half.

Not a bad basic tool list. Click to see the second half.

The next ten pages are line drawings and descriptions of most of the tools. Then there are 34 pages of drawings and instructions for many projects including a fern stand, shoeshine box, bookcase and various toys. Toward the end, there is a page with drawings for a workbench (Courtesy Stanley Tools):

Why spends a fortune on all those books on workbenches when you can just build this one? Click to see the full page of drawings.

Why spends a fortune on all those books on workbenches when you can just build this one? Click to see the full page of drawings.

They also had plans for sawhorses:

Back from the days when 2 by 4's were 1 3/4" by 3 3/4" and 1 by's were 7/8" thick.

Back from the days when 2 by 4’s were 1 3/4″ by 3 3/4″ and 1 by’s were 7/8″ thick.

The Household Book really is a very comprehensive manual (around 900 pages) covering everything from flower arranging to plumbing (sewage disposal?) and financial management. It does contain useful information and only suffers slightly from being a product of its time.

Get your copy today…