General References

Foxfire Book 2, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-33,410 pages, 1973.

Beekeeping techniques; wild plant foods; making an ox yoke, wagon wheels, a wagon, a tub wheel for a vertical-axis water-powered grain mill; raising sheep for wool, and carding, spinning, and weaving cloth; how to make a loom.

Foxfire Book 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-34, 511 pages, 1975.

Tanning hides; making banjos and dulcimers, a lumber kiln, a smokehouse, butter churns, brooms, brushes, dolls and hats; using an animal-powered mill to crush sorghum for syrup and candy (same as a sugar cane crushing mill).

Foxfire Book 4, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-35, 496 pages, 1977.

Making knives and carving wood; making fiddles, wooden plows and sleds, wooden water pipes, traps, and cheese; gardening; building a still furnace (for alcohol production).

Foxfire Book 5, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-36, 511 pages, 1979.

Blacksmithing and gun making (flintlock rifles—230 pages); bear hunting.

Foxfire Book 6, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-37, 507 pages, 1980.

Making a gourd banjo and song bow, toys and games (170 pages), shoes and wooden locks; an old water-powered sawmill.

Simple Working Models of Historic Machines (Easily Built by the Reader) Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-54, book, 79 pages, by A. Burstall, 1968, MIT Press, out of print in 1985.

Thirty-five different machines are presented in the form of drawings of simple working models. The emphasis is on the essential operating features of the machines. Most of the devices can be built with woodworking tools in a small workshop; some of them, however, require machined metal gearing. A description of the origin and use of each is provided.

The drawings include: great wheel lathe, treadle lathe, screw cutters for wooden screws (male and female threads), a variety of pulleys and other lifting devices, Chinese spoon-tilt hammer, escapement mechanisms in clocks, two kinds of bellows, and machines for pumping and raising water (Archimedes’ screw, chain pump, suction pump, diaphragm pump, hydraulic ram).

The intent of the author is to “encourage a talent for experimenting and improvising.” The drawings illustrate important principles in mechanical engineering. They can either serve as the basis for practical applications of these principles, or as teaching models. “Much appeared to be learned by feeling and touching a working model that otherwise eluded the students when only diagrams, slides, or cinema films were used.”

Village Technology Handbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-64, book, 430 pages, VITA, 1970, revised 1988, also available from TOOL.

“This handbook describes techniques and devices which can be made and used in villages. Hopefully the book will generate new ideas as well as pass on information which has already been tried.”

The book “was conceived by VITA volunteers in 1962 as a means of bridging the technical information gap which keeps the world’s villages from learning from one another’s experience. The book’s aim is to gather in one publication information from many sources which has been found helpful in villages.”

Subjects covered include:

a) Developing water resources (including basic well-drilling or digging information, such as how to make a hand-operated earth boring machine).

b) Water lifting and transport (chain pump for irrigation, pipelines, hydraulic ram pump).

c) Water storage and water power.

d) Water purification (for example, sand filters).

e) Health and sanitation (principles of latrine building).

f) Agriculture (earth-moving devices for irrigation and road-building, underground irrigation using tiles, tile-making, grain drying, two-person bucket sprayer, backpack crop duster).

g) Food processing and preservation (for example, iceless refrigerator).

h) Construction (concrete, bamboo, making glues).

i) Miscellaneous (solar water heater, hand-operated washing machines, soap making, building a kiln for pottery, silk-screen printing, and winding a spring).

j) An appendix with conversion charts for English to metric units.

Due to the great amount of village technology development work that has taken place in the last 15 years, this book is somewhat out of date. It still makes a good introductory book and reference.

Soft Tech, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-56, book, 175 pages, edited by Jay Baldwin and Stewart Brand, 1978, out of print in 1985.

A compendium of the “soft technology” sections—articles and reviews of products and books—from past issues of the CoEvolution Quarterly (itself an extension of the Whole Earth Catalog—see reviews). What is “soft technology” to the editors? ” ‘Soft’ signifies that something is alive, resilient, adaptive, maybe even lovable.”

The emphasis here is on technologies that can be used in the U.S. Much of this book provides access to products—identifying who is making and selling the best quality and most unusual practical tools—from hand tools to machines and renewable energy measuring devices. In this sense Soft Tech is a buyer’s guide for a “highly evolved toolbox.” You’ll also get a look at solar gadgets for U.S. homes, the 1891-1930 California solar water heater boom, energy-efficient cars and mopeds, folding bicycles, wood-burning for space heat, underground buildings, owner building strategies, passive solar design, and the New Alchemy Ark.

RAINBOOK: Resources for Appropriate Technology, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-51, book, 256 pages, by the editors of RAIN Magazine, 1977, out of print.

A compilation of information that has appeared in Rain Magazine (see review) plus a lot of new material. Describes reference materials, activities of U.S. groups, and includes articles on: appropriate technology, place, economics, creating community, communications, transportation, shelter, agriculture, health, waste recycling, and energy. The emphasis is on changing the U.S. towards decentralized, environmentally appropriate technology, and having fun doing it.

Like the journal, RAINBOOK is the best single reference for Americans looking for excellent resources for changing lifestyles so that we consume less of the world’s resources, while becoming fuller human beings ourselves.

Fichier Encyclopedique du Developpement Rural, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-28, folders of leaflets.

These are sets of leaflets, in French, on a wide variety of village technology topics. The information is taken from French sources and international sources such as VITA and Brace Research Institute. References for additional information are given in each case. These leaflets offer an introduction to the concepts and applications of many successful technologies. Some of the topics covered: soil-cement block making, raising grapes and making wine in the tropics, water supply, bamboo construction, and cane crushing for sugar production.

GRET has a large collection of other French language publications on village technologies, and we urge readers in French-speaking countries to write to them for their publications list.

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