Five of my favourite woodworking books…

28 Aug

I have a nice selection of woodworking books. I prefer to buy used books simply because they’re cheaper, and they are available. Plus I like the hunt. The selection is always different in every thrift store. It’s amazing what you can find!

Of the books I have, these are my five favourites.

This book may not look like much from it’s cover, but it is SO amazing! It is delightfully clear in it’s layout and illustrations, it covers most of the woodworking bases, and it is my number one pick for a woodworking manual. I have several (in one form or another!), and this one is the best.

The book even has quick flip markings along the page edges so that you can navigate to specific section with ease.

The book is illustrated in simple black and white, but the illustrations are first rate and appear timeless. Each machine has a proper introduction covering accessories, setup, techniques and tips.

There are many charts interspersed in the book, pilot hole sizes, joint strength, choosing adhesives and finishes. The list goes on.

And last but not least there are full colour photos in the middle of the book to help identify woods.

This book was recommended reading for my woodworking course. I flipped through it halfheartedly when the teacher passed it around. THEN-

we later watched a video of Flexner. He demonstrated many techniques on stripping and refinishing furniture and explained some principles of finishing. His skill was striking. He made it look so easy and yet we knew from our recent trials that he was just a GENIUS. My awe of Flexner while I watched that video ultimately led me to search for this book…

…which I DID find in a used book store about a year after seeing the video. SCORE! This time I did not halfheartedly flip through the pages but I veraciously read the words of a genius.

The book reads very well, Flexner is very good at explaining finishing without sounding too dry or wordy. He cuts to the point. Which is exactly what I want from a finishing book. Too many technical terms and my mind binds with the certainty that I won’t be able to understand finishing.  Thanks for keeping it real Flexner!

Yes! This book makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It was published in 1989 right about the time when I would watch this show with my mom and dad. I loved it, and I have fond memories of those hours watching Norm with my family- long before I thought of pursuing woodworking.

For $4 I had a nice trip down memory lane and a new favourite book.

The book itself is a collection of projects and meant to be a companion to the tv series. The projects are pretty simple and I don’t find myself needing to reference it often. But it’s well illustrated and I might look at it to see the construction of the joints etc for possible projects.

The furniture is all based on classic designs so they are all something I could imagine making at one point or another.

But really this makes it to my top five simply because of what Norm symbolizes to me; good times. I also owe my love of power tools to him. I consider myself a hybrid woodworker, as do most woodworkers now-a-days, but Norm is kinda a part of me now.

I practically salivated when I unearthed this at a book fair along with 16 issues of Finewoodworking magazine. I look at this book fairly frequently. The shop is a constant work in progress, so I pick out different elements in the book each time I revisit it.

I often look here for ideas on how to solve dust, storage, and layout issues. Maybe I even dream a little.

And frankly shops are just fascinating. Especially other people’s shops.

One of my favourite things is to learn from other woodworkers directly. Everyone of them has a wealth of tips and tricks to working more efficiently. This book is fantastic. I have another book similar to this- but this one is simply more comprehensive.

As woodworkers we have to be on our toes, we must be one step ahead of ourselves to be certain that we catch mistakes before they happen. And then find the best solutions for when we inevitably do make mistakes. We must keep safety at the forefront and find ways to save time where we can. We must find WAYS to accomplish strange feats, and then find ways to duplicate those strange feats reliably. We are resourceful, we are tenacious, and we are devoted.

…what I mean to say is, this book is a great body of pooled knowledge. It reminds me of how inventive the best woodworkers are, and I feel inspired by them every time I flip though this book.

This book is probably the one I reference the most. It also features some pages on how to choose certain tools, and tune up others etc. These “features” are sprinkled throughout. Like the workshop book I often am evolving as a woodworker so I take away different tidbits from each perusal.

I don’t claim that these are the best five books to own, they are just the ones I own and that have proved to be MY favourite.  I might post every once in a while on some of the other books in my woodworking library. I wish I could drop in on other woodworker’s libraries- what are your favourite books?

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2 Responses to “Five of my favourite woodworking books…”

  1. bucho125 August 28, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Thanks for the good reviews. Barnes and Nobles (sadly the only big bookstore available in many cities now) here do not carry many woodworking books as it is losing the battle to online purchasing, thus It is very difficult to browse before buying. Your reviews are just great!

  2. Dyami August 28, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Great books. Thanks for sharing your inspiration & references.

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