About five years ago I began to build my own house. It’s amazing just how much of a house is built on maths! I was never very good at maths at school and I would often have to dredge my deepest memories of that time trying to remember whether it was two Pi x R or Pi x R squared?
My wife was getting pretty fed up with me continually giving her bills of quantities and so on to work out, and bought me this book as a gift. I love it! It’s now the most dog eared book on my workshop shelf and even though the house is built and finished I still refer to it whenever I’ve got one of those “I’m sure there must be an easier way of working this out” problems.
It contains tons of useful stuff from calculating loads on beams over a given distance to calculating the thermal efficiency of a wood burner. It really does cover a lot of ground. Only problem I have found with it is that being from the UK, where we generally work in metric, a lot of the tables in the book are in imperial measurements.
However, Scharff usually gives the formulae as well as the tables so it was usually pretty easy just to do the workings in millimetres or kilogrammes or whatever. If they had used books like this when I was at school I reckon I would have seen the relevance and taken to it much more than I did. Anyway, I think it’s a must-have now and wish I had found it years ago.
[Though this book is currently out of print, there appear to be a significant number of used copies at Amazon and other used book sites. Additionally, the first portion of the book is available over at Google Books for those who want to take a closer look. -- OH]