As a woodworker I am an amateur, beginner, and not very talented. Well,
maybe moderately talented. U tube has been very instructive for me in
learning some woodworking techniques but I feel that a good book or two on
the subject would be very useful. I would like to know more about joinery
and the use of those tools that might be found in the better equipped
home/garage shop. I have had a table saw for more than 30 years, and a
router. More recently I've gotten a drill press, planer, router table, and
discovered Kreg jigs. I've also discovered that there is other wood besides
A-C plywood, douglas fir, and pine. I'm looking for a jointer now. I'd
like to eventually be able to make a nice raised panel cabinet door.
A couple of my favorite books over the last 30-40 years have been "Basic
Handtools" (a U.S. Navy training manual), and "Basic Carpentry Illustrated"
(a Sunset book). But, they are somewhat dated and don't include much in
the way of joinery, especially as relating to furniture and cabinetry.
So, what's a couple of good books that I should have in my shop for
instruction and reference? Maybe Santa might be able to find one and put it
under my tree.
> So, what's a couple of good books that I should have in my shop for
> instruction and reference? Maybe Santa might be able to find one and put
> it under my tree.
So many techniques... so little time<g>
One the the first books that I gravitated to and snagged for my "shop
"Cabinet Making and Millwork" by John L. Feirer (Bennett Publishing
Company, Peoria, IL 1967,1970, 1977, 1982)
Almost 1,000 pages of great information on all facets of woodworking.
Should be able to find a copy on the internet... don't know if it's
still published or not. My copy is the 2nd Edition.
I don't think I've seen a better "all round source" to this day. Of
course, my library also includes complete set of Fine Woodworking
magazine and many of their excellent books.
I think a book like Feirer's will cover almost all the bases and then,
when you zero in on a specific technique that you intend to use, you
might wish to browse some of the FWW topics or publications to get
deeply into the subject.
Same thing goes for those books and magazines devoted to the tools
themselves. There are a lot of compendiums that propose to tell you all
you need to know about power or hand tools but I find that, in practice,
most are so general that you learn such interesting things as "a ball
pein hammer is used by metal workers and machinists" or "the claw on a
carpenter's hammer is used primarily for nail removal"<g>
This is one area where you want to get a book dedicated to the specific
tool if you want to learn valuable tip, tricks, etc. Start with reading
and/or committing to memory the manufacturer's guide for the tool and
then go browse through any number of books dedicated to a) the
particular tool or b) a specific use of that tool.
Be sure to check out the offerings at the local library. The breadth of
their collection of woodworking and craft books may surprise you. I
know it did me. Take home a load of them and really dig through them.
I quickly found a number that were so basic that the most advanced
techniques discussed were ones I mastered in 7th grade woodshop<g> No
need to waste time or money with them. Others I found were so good that
I didn't wish to be troubled returning to the library if I wanted to
reference something in the book so I bought my own.
Amazon.com has the book in several editions. In fact, you can purchase a
used 5th edition (992 pages) for only $.40 (yes, forty cents) plus $3.99
shipping on Amazon. Just point your browser to
http://tinyurl.com/2ff3foh and order.
I have been manufacturing sawdust for 30+ years - a little more
seriously for the past few years. One of the books I go back to on a
regular basis is "Cabinetmaking and Millwork" by John L. Feirer,
Bennett & Company - 900+ pages. My version was purchased when I took
a college intro to cabinetmaking class in the mid 70's and has a
latest copyright of 1970. I did some checking a few years ago and it
has been updated and apparently has some teaching guides available.
Try Amazon or local libraries for up to date info. The version I have
is clearly outdated. BUT, some of the material will probably not
change. It provides basic & classic cabinet making, the tool
operating and safety instruction is still valid and it is well
illustrated with photos and very good perspective and exploded
perspective drawings. When I am scratching my head trying to figure
out a case design this is the one I pull off of the shelf.
Taunton Press has several pretty good books that provide inspiration,
if not instruction. I received a tree book set for Christmas, a few
years ago, that I got to fairly frequently. These are the "Workshop
Book" by Scott Landis; The "Workbench Book" by Landis and "The Toolbox
Book" by Toplin. The Workshop book, in particular, provides a lot of
workshop design information and examples of well-executed shop plans.
As noted, these are not as instructive as the cabinetmaking book,
above, but they provide some good ideas and inspiration. If they are
going on your Christmas list, they should be pretty easy to find.
I like "Encyclopedia of Furniture Making" by Ernest Joyce. More of a
summary than a how-to but it shows just about every joint and technique
of western woodworking.
For details on joinery I like Tauntons "Complete Illustrated Guide to
And for some nice project ideas there's "Illustrated Cabinet Making" from
American Woodworker. Don't be fooled by the title, it shows tables,
beds, desks. and chests as well as cabinets. Only a few dimensions
given, it's not a cut list but it shows all you need.
And look on abebooks for used copies to save a lot of money and find ones
that are out of print.
For example, the Joyce book can be had in good condition for as little as
$6 including shipping.
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw
And, for a different take (altho I don't disagree w/ any of the previous
posters' suggestions each of which has provided reasons for the choice;
Two from Taunton Press (vintage but think they're both still in print;
I'm sure Hoadley is) --
Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: Joinery and Techniques, Vol 1
Bruce Hoadley, Understanding Wood.
Frid was the first Contributing Editor when Fine Woodworking was founded
so it's of some age back. It concentrates on various joinery techniques
w/ first emphasis on hand cutting them as well as machine technique.
One can never underestimate how limiting it is in advancing if one only
knows using power tools for everything.
The second is the tome on what every woodworker needs to know about the
properties and idiosyncracies of the material with which they propose to
work. Much hard effort and work is lost to misunderstanding the
limitations of the wood.
I've always recommended "The Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking" by
Ferencsik. It's a very basic start, not an encyclopedia of joints.
Covers other basics too (layout, sharpening, &tc.).
And a few hours with Hoadley's "Understanding Wood" will pay off
substantially for the rest of your life.
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