You can never have enough good reference books. Even with the seemingly endless information that’s available on the internet, having a good reference book close at hand can save you hours of searching internet sites for a critical bit of knowledge.
There are certain books that are part of my kit that I make sure to always have with me because the information they contain is so useful and job-specific that I’m sure I’ll refer to them numerous times during a show.
One of these is the Backstage Handbook. It’s subtitle, “An Illustrated Almanac of Technical Information”, is a perfect description of it’s contents. Profusely illustrated with crisp black and white drawings, the book is a visual reference of hardware, materials and architectural elements. Written by Paul Carter, the book was originally written for those in live theater. Now in it’s third edition, the book includes chapters that pertain more to film work as well.
I’m now on my third copy of the book as they often fall apart from heavy use. The book becomes my repository for notes, tables and other bits of technical info that I want to keep in one place.
It’s a nice compact volume that provides a quick way to look up typical fasteners, steel sizes, material weights and sizes and a lot of other information you’ll often need without resorting to sifting through a McMaster-Carr catalogue or various other books.
It’s published by Broadway Press and retails for $18, although you can sometimes find it cheaper through Amazon. This is definitely a book you should own.