In Shop Blog

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

A blog entry last week brought a question from a reader about what woodworking books were on my bookshelf. An interesting question to ask a woodworking books editor. We’ve run pieces in the past discussing the staff’s “favorite” woodworking books, but that’s not what this reader was asking. He wanted to know what was on my shelf. Whether or not he saw the distinction between the two ideas, I did, and it made me check my bookshelf.

To be perfectly honest, the “shelf” in my office is three good-sized bookcases. No, I’m not going to list all the books that are there. And yes, as one reader has already noticed, these aren’t the shelves I’d build for myself…company issued. One entire bookcase is filled with copies of the books published by Popular Woodworking over the past 15 years or so. Some are there because they’ve recently been published, while others are used as reference to what has been popular (or a real turkey).

One other bookcase has a couple of shelves filled with books from other publishers of woodworking titles. It’s always good to know what your competition is doing. Some of these titles include: The Toolbox Book, by Jim Tolpin (great book); The Encyclopedia of Wood (Sterling), a reprint of a handbook published by the Forest Products Laboratory (a good look at all the ways wood works); Understanding Wood Finishing, by Bob Flexner (still the best book on wood finishing, written by someone I now call a friend); The entire Workshop Companion Series, by Nick Engler (now out of print); and a number of Taunton’s “best of” titles. A great look at many of their best projects.

Then there’s a smaller, two-shelf bookcase that has my personal reference books, and just books I like: Judith Miller’s Furniture; A dozen books on Arts & Crafts (Arts & Crafts Furniture by Kevin Rodel and Jonathan Binzen; The Gustav Stickley Photo Archives, edited by Douglas Congdon-Martin, and Greene & Greene, The Blacker House by Randell Makinson); Built for the Ages by Bruce E. Johnson (also now a friend, and the author of the upcoming Popular Woodworking book, Arts & Crafts Furniture of the Grove Park Inn); The Furniture of Sam Maloof, by Jeremy Adamson; The Shaker Legacy by Christian Becksvoort; and Thomas Moser’s Measured Shop Drawings (both landmark books, in my opinion).

Then there are a few of the more traditional reference books including: Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton; The Encyclopedia of Furniture by Joseph Aronson; The Encyclopedia of Furniture Making by Ernest Joyce and Cabinetmaking and Millwork by John L. Feirer.

So what does all this mean? Well, certainly woodworking is a passion as well as a job. You don’t collect a bunch of out-of-print woodworking titles for the heck of it. It also says I’m pretty messy (yes, there are piles of books on the floor as well), and I like Arts & Crafts furniture. But ultimately what it says is that, yes, I do enjoy having the printed word around. Both for reference, and for pleasure.

In talking with the rest of the Popular Woodworking staff about this topic, we decided you (the readers) may be interested in seeing what our contributors (Frank Klausz, Mike Dunbar, Marc Spagnuolo and Adam Cherubini, to name a few) have in their woodworking libraries. We’ll be reaching out to them next week to get their book lists, and then we’ll share them with you (I’m pretty curious myself!).

– David Thiel, Editor, Popular Woodworking Books

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recent Posts
Showing 5 comments
  • Todd Stucky

    I think this is an excellent idea of seeing what your peers are reading as well. Doo you use any of the electronic media of your publication or competitors? I look forward to seeing more of the book titles.


  • Dan Hansen

    Please print a proper bibliography, I can not read the titles. It would be nice to know the editor’s opinion of at least some works. I am wondering if almost all new woodworking books are sent to you for review, and would prefer a more honest book review than a photo of a bookcase.
    thank you

  • Robert R. Clough - Thorncraft

    Good, a decent library. The printed word is most important. I doubt that I have more than 150 books on woodworking, but then there is the rest of our library which includes my professional history et al books, literature, novels, and so on. A total of about 1500 books.

  • Brent Richardson

    I really like this idea. I collect a lot of woodworking books and it is always good to get ideas from others on what they think are good choices. You only have so much time to read so you need to chose wisely what you read in your limited time.

  • Chris C


    That is a great set of books. But a really sad looking
    set of shelves for them! Is that particle board?


Start typing and press Enter to search

Steel reinforced plastic. Even with a steel backing, the insert flexes a bit at the back.