5 Books I Can Highly Recommend
In the 1990s, I had the good fortune to head the editorial team at Rodale Woodworking Books. It was an amazing time when, thanks to the talent of the editors and authors with whom I worked, we produced a number of best-sellers.
The hits included Shop Tips, Woodworking: The Right Technique, Router Magic, Woodworker’s Problem Solver and the Woodworker’s Visual Handbook. Each of those books sold more than 100,000 copies because of the quality of the advice and projects. And the books still hold up well, as you can see if you view buyers’ comments on sites like Amazon, where most of the titles consistently receive 5-star ratings.
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is not to brag, but to alert you to a great deal. Recently, we had a chance to acquire the last print copies of these five books, which were sitting, overlooked, in a warehouse. The books mainly have black and white interiors and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. And every one offers more than 300 pages of excellent advice on woodworking projects and techniques.
These are new, untouched copies but because they’ve been around a while, I’m pleased to say that we can share them with you at an extraordinarily low price: Just $39.99 total for all five books. Here’s more information on each one.
Woodworker’s Problem Solver. When you get right down to it, most woodworking is about solving problems, whether they’re due to the complexity of the project you’re building or to an unfortunate mistake you’ve made along the way.
This book recognizes that fact and provides hundreds of solutions that will help make your woodworking more rewarding.
To develop the material, we editors asked ourselves—and dozens of top woodworkers—what’s likely to go wrong at each stage of a project. We really dug deep to make sure we didn’t just repeat the types of advice you see in the average magazine. We ended up with a list of more than 500 problems covering everything from design and layout, to stock preparation, joinery, finishing and more. Then, we reached out to top woodworkers around the country for their solutions. The result was a 320-page book filled with some of the best advice you could ever find from more than 75 master craftsmen, including Marc Adams, Mike Dunbar, Graham Blackburn, Toshio Odate, David Marks, Frank Klausz and Lonnie Bird.
No joke: This book offers the answer to most problems you’ll encounter in woodworking. It’s an entertaining read too.
Woodworking: The Right Technique. The title of this book is a bit of a contradiction, because Bob Moran, the author, approached it with the mindset that there is no one “right” way to perform an operation; the “right” one depends on your abilities and the project at hand.
Think about how much sense that idea makes.
Instead of one right technique, Bob offers three different approaches for everything from prepping stock, to cutting joints and shaping wood, and then provides the pros and cons of each approach to help you figure which one is best for the project you’re making.
You’ll find hand tool techniques, machine methods, techniques with portable power tools —basically every sensible way to work wood. There’s also a very good section on practical shop geometry that shows how to lay out arcs, circles, stars—you name it—with no more than a compass, a square and trammel points.
This is a unique book from a very clever woodworker and a person I admire a lot. And because Bob is so witty, it’s a book I like as much for the writing as the advice.
Router Magic. Over the years Bill Hylton has written a number of best-selling router books and this is one of my favorites. Router Magic assumes that you know the basics of using your router and shows you how to expand its versatility by building a variety of jigs and accessories.
There are simple jigs like a trammel baseplate and T-square, but you’ll also find a vacuum-clamping jig you can use to rout surfaces without clamps getting in the way, a dowel-making fixture, and router jigs to help you make fluted columns and even flamed finials. Bill also included several variations of router tables, including an ultimate table I built for my own shop.
Every project is explained in careful detail with cutlists, step-by-step directions and advice on how to use the jig. If you enjoy the quick and numerous ways you can use a router, you’ll love the way this book expands its versatility even further.
Shop Tips. I don’t know about you, but when I open a new woodworking magazine one of the first places I turn is to the tips section. I just love to see how ingenious other woodworkers can be. And even if I don’t use all the tips, they’re fun to read.
If you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy Shop Tips. The book offers over 600 short, clever tricks that cover all aspects of woodworking. There are also more extended sections on topics such as how to true a hand plane, tune a band saw and build a workbench.
The advice comes from professional woodworkers, sharp amateurs, members of woodworking guilds, and more. And this is the best of the best. We gathered over 1,000 tips while developing the book and then pared down to the cleverest of the tips.
Woodworker’s Visual Handbook. This is a book for people like me, who can understand an idea faster if they see it than read about it. Woodworker’s Visual Handbook has more than 1,300 illustrations and 430 pages of advice that visually explain such issues as how to install smooth-sliding drawers in frame-and-panel cabinets, how to lay out a complicated project and cut the joints, and the pros and cons of working with more than 60 species of wood (a topic on which author Jon Arno was an expert). There’s even a section on furniture styles, another topic Jon knew well.
The book is a valuable reference and I suspect if you buy it you’ll consult it again and again.