In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Classic Woodworking Tools

When you find an old tool, you have some work to do to get it into working condition – cleaning, sharpening, tuning and so forth. Once you’ve spent some time with it, often you’ll find that the tool is just as good (or even better) than one you could have bought new.

Mike Dunbar’s original edition of “Restoring, Tuning and Using Classic Woodworking Tools” was written in 1989. It remained in print for almost 20 years and was considered “the bible” on the subject of classic hand tools – and in 2014 Popular Woodworking Books released a revised and updated edition.

The interesting thing about that new edition is that very little of the information about the tools themselves changed. The book was so comprehensive in the first place that there was no need. The revisions to the book mainly consisted of updated advice for tracking down classic tools (eBay and online auction sites had changed the way old tools were bought and sold). And so, much like an old handplane, with a few minor adjustments Mike’s classic book was ready to serve woodworkers once again — it has merely been “sharpened and tuned” to keep it relevant and useful.

If you work with hand tools, this book belongs on your shelf. And make no mistake, this is a book for woodworkers – not tool collectors. It’s a book about getting the tools into your hands, but also about restoring them to working order and putting them to work. From  sharpening and maintenance to techniques for proper use, you’ll find everything you need to know put old hand tools to good use once again.

—Scott Francis

“Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Handtools, Revised & Updated” is available from your favorite book retailer or at

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.

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  • JMAW Works

    This was one of a few woodworking books available at my local library when I got started. It was invaluable to understanding what was possible with hand tools, how they worked, and what to look for. It really changed my perspective on needing a power tool for everything to seeing how simply hand tools can be put to work.

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