Chris Schwarz's Blog

Poll: You Can Have One Woodworking Book

We are
currently at work on our June 2011 issue, which we have dubbed “The
Bookcase Issue,” and it is the first jab at steering the magazine’s
content so that the articles relate to each other in obvious and
sometimes not-obvious ways – a la Woodworking Magazine, may she rest in peace.

that end, we are working on a couple articles for the issue that I
don’t want to say too much about because it will give it away to our
competitors, and I happen to be a bit of the Type A personality.

one of the articles, I’d like to ask your assistance. Just answer the
following question: If you could own only one woodworking book, what
would it be? You can make your choice based on sentimental or practical
factors. Maybe you like the pictures. Maybe you use it every day in the
shop. Perhaps it opened your eyes in some significant way. It can be a
book that’s in print or long out of print.

Simply post the title
of the book and the author as a comment below. You don’t have to say why
you like it, or why you chose it. You are welcome to do that, however.

So thanks in advance!

Oh, and to kick things off, here’s my pick: “Illustrated Cabinetmaking” by Bill Hylton.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Our commenting system has been overloaded by responses, so we set up this online survey below. Don’t worry, no one’s response has been lost!

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97 thoughts on “Poll: You Can Have One Woodworking Book

  1. Dave H.

    Is "The Essential Woodworker" still available anywhere (not including the bay and the list, of course)?


  2. Gary Roberts

    Full Disclosure: I’m cheating and naming another:

    Tage Frid. After Krenov, the second book(s) I read that opened my eyes to what woodworking could be. No offense to Krenov, but Frid grounded me in the sensible approaches to cutting and forming wood, the marrying of form and function and the awareness that there is more than one way to accomplish a task.


  3. Justin Tyson

    "The Woodwright’s Shop" by Roy Underhill. It changed my way of looking at (and working) wood the way no other book could. I’m glad I don’t actually have to go without his other brilliant books, though 🙂

  4. Ethan

    The Cabinetmaker’s Notebook, by James Krenov, is a book I go back to time and time again. It is where I go to when I need motivation and inspiration – not to make something in the style of Mr. Krenov, but just to go do SOMETHING with wood, even if it is to take a walk through a forest of not-quite-ready lumber.

  5. John Burton

    Tage Frid three volume work on woodworking
    Shaping, Veneering Finishing
    Furniture making
    I would love to see you guys update this with new pictures and methods, but it is the most comprehensive.

  6. Ben

    I have to echo the book, Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. It was my first, and I always pull it back out for reference.

  7. Jorge G

    The Complete Illustrated guide to joinery by Gary Rogowski.

    You know how to make good joints you can build anything.

  8. LizPf

    Still another vote for Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking

    I bought my copy years ago, long before I had time to actually work wood. It’s as good for dreaming as for doing.

  9. Mark McKay

    The Great All-American Wooden Toy Book
    By Norm Marshall

    First woodworking book I ever acquired….
    Toys kids will play w/ for years,
    runs on imagination

    Mark McKay
    Sandston, Virginia

  10. Tim Tyler

    Hand Tools by Aldren A Watson.

    Amazing book. Clear and concise. Opens up the whole world of hand tool woodworking.


  11. robert


    What a great way to start to build a reading list. Ask for more – the top five books – so that we can get deeper and broader suggestions.

  12. robert

    I continue to return to "The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking," by James Krenov.

    I value all five of the books by Mr. Krenov because he contemplated more the "whys" of woodworking.

  13. Peter Baines

    The Complete Illustrated Guide to Joinery by Gary Rogowski

    The book is huge, some 300 pages.

    Very well laid out and illustrated with full colour step by steps.

    Full of alternative methods.

    Very clear and concise in its instruction.

  14. Seamus


    Just one hunh?

    How about Mike Abbotts
    "Living Wood From Buying a Woodland to Making a Chair"
    Living Wood Books
    ISBN: 0-9542345-1-0

    or his earlier

    Green Woodwork
    Working With Wood the Natural Way
    Mike Abbott
    Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd (August 1992)
    ISBN 0946819181

    or the classic

    Make a Chair from A Tree by Alexander
    an introduction to working green wood
    Taunton Press, c1978
    ISBN 0918804019

  15. Leo

    Lavorare il legno
    by Ernest Scott
    (Working in Wood: The Illustrated Manual of Tools, Methods, Materials and Classic Constructions)

    The only good book translate in italian language.

  16. Kip

    But I learned from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, so that’s a close second. I just don’t open it as much anymore.

  17. Gary Roberts

    Weeehooo… one book…

    Bernard Jones, editor: The Practical Woodworker 4 or 2 volume set

    or, and perhaps of more importance to the woodworker:

    Complete Practical Brewer, by M. L. Byrn, 1856

    I just can’t decide which is more vital to the craft?


  18. Cory Watson

    Soul of the Tree by Nakashima, cause I wouldn’t be here without it, and everytime I read it, it teaches me something.

    -Cory Watson

Comments are closed.