Below is my “Out on a Limb” (the editor’s note) from the April 2016 issue, because I’ve had a couple folks ask me on social media recently what books I recommend.
If I could apply in the shop the superabundance of knowledge I’ve gleaned through books, I’d be an excellent craftsperson. My job involves reading about woodworking, as does my freelance editing work. Then for fun, I open a book. I’m a voracious reader.
Here are a handful of the many books I find invaluable (specific to my interests and toolset – actual and metaphoric).
■ “Furniture Treasury,” by Wallace Nutting (Macmillan)
■ “Human Dimension & Interior Space,” by Julius Panero and Martin Zelnik (Watson-Guptill) (this one is new to me, but already a treasure)
■ “Measured Drawings of Shaker Furniture & Woodenware,” by Ejner Handberg (Berkshire House)
■ “The New Fine Points of Furniture: Early American,” by Albert Sack (Crown)
■ “Flexner on Finishing,” by Bob Flexner (Popular Woodworking)
■ “Understanding Wood Finishing,” by Bob Flexner (Reader’s Digest)
Tools & Shop
■ “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” by Christopher Schwarz (Lost Art Press) (file also under inspiration)
■ “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools,” by Mike Dunbar (Popular Woodworking)
■ “The Table Saw Book,” by Kelly Mehler (Taunton)
■ “Workbenches,” by Christopher Schwarz (Popular Woodworking)
■ “The Workshop Book,” by Scott Landis (Taunton)
■ “Chairmaker’s Notebook,” by Peter Galbert (Lost Art Press)
■ “Illustrated Cabinetmaking,” by Bill Hylton (Fox Chapel)
■ “Modern Practical Joinery,” by George Ellis (Linden)
■ “Modern Practical Stairbuilding & Handrailing,” by George Ellis (Linden)
■ “The Perfect Edge,” by Ron Hock (Popular Woodworking)
■ “The Woodworker, The Charles Hayward Years: 1939-1967,” (Lost Art Press) (due out in April – I edited it, and have thus read it multiple times; solid gold)
■ “Woodwork Joints,” by Charles H. Hayward (Evans Bros.)
■ “Woods in British Furniture Making 1400-1900,” by Adam Bowett (Royal Botanic Gardens)
■ “Understanding Wood,” by Bruce Hoadley (Taunton)
■ “A Reverence for Wood,” by Eric Sloane (Ballantine)
■ “The Soul of a Tree,” by George Nakashima (Kodansha)
In a 1980 interview, Charles Hayward said, “Books can guide you, explain about techniques, tools, materials, present ideas, steer you away from pitfalls…Books include a great deal of valuable information but it is up to the reader to apply that information.”
Go forth and read. Then get thee to the shop. I’ll see you there.
P.S. And if you asked, I know you don’t subscribe; you can take care of that by clicking here 🙂
P.P.S. If you want a longer list of recommendations from the editors at PW circa 2011 (my list above includes some newer titles), along with the favorite woodworking books of Kelly Mehler, Roy Underhill, Peter Follansbee, Marc Spagnuolo and more, check out the June 2011 issue. And you might also be interested in this link, for reader favorites.
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.