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Thread: Good beginner books

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    springfield,or
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    Good beginner books

    Looking for a recommendation on some good beginners books.
    I'm looking for in depth books on the why's and how's, joint use, wood movement, design, proportion.

    Maybe some old books (republications) written before the dawn of power tools. I recently found a book I thought really useful: Popular mechanic's mission furniture how to make it. It was originally published in 1909. While it didn't go in depth on design ,movement or proportion it was written before modern power tools existed. Basically a how to for a guy's like me.

    Other books like that would be great or books that touch more in depth on basically everything.

    Any recommendations greatly appreciated.
    Michael.

  2. #2
    The books which I learned the most from:

    - Andy Rae's Choosing & Using Hand Tools --- excellent overview of tools by broad category with discussions of which to get and why
    - Jim Tolpin's The Toolbox Book: A Craftsman's Guide to Tool Chests, Cabinets and Storage Systems --- gotta store 'em somehow
    - Terrie Noll's The Joint Book: The Complete Guide to Wood Joinery --- I find the best way to design something is to just block out the optimal size / shape, then work out where the joints should be and what sort of joints are appropriate for a given location

    I'd like to find a good book on wood finishing which looks at the options for it using natural materials/traditional techniques.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    For basics on hand tool use, building basic items like tables, cabinets etc., I would recommend 'The Essential Woodworker' from Lost Art Press.
    Also from Lost Art Press is a book I wish I read earlier on in my woodworking days, 'The Anarchist's Toolchest'. It helps put the tools you need into perspective and might help to keep you from the slippery slope of buying too many tools.

  4. #4
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    You might try searching "Woodworking Books" on Ebay. I've seen some older ones there at pretty good prices.
    Mark

  5. #5
    Don't forget to search the SMC archives for threads on this topic. Type in "books" and several threads come up that you might find interesting.

    Fred

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I have picked up a number of books over the years, but the one I have found to have the most value is The Complete Woodworker by Bernard Jones. You should be able to get it for about $10. The lost art press books are expensive. If you like the Hayward books they are reprinting but do not have the cash to buy the new volumes, a lot of his material is available used as well. I have a couple, and I think they are very good. The printing is paperback, and not the quality you will get from the new publication, but I think I paid $5 shipped for the ones I have.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Here are a few:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/s1ei5r142x...0sick.pdf?dl=0

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/xnnjsgk3c4...0comp.pdf?dl=0

    Assuming you like reading about how they did it back in 1890.

  8. #8
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    A lot of good recommendations already--I'll second Robert Wearing's "The Essential Woodworker" along with a lot of what Lost Art Press publishes. I've only got a few of the books published by them but I thoroughly enjoy all of them. They are expensive but they're very high quality. The fact that I think they are worth the price says it all. The Hayward books are all excellent as well but I think I'd hold off on them until a little later. They have a lot of great tips and techniques for someone who is still a beginner but not completely new. The Hayward books are a series of articles on specific subjects so they don't encompass everything and aren't ordered in a manner that makes sense to read straight through. I find that I use them more for reference when I run into a specific problem or want to learn about a specific technique.

  9. #9
    I like Bruce Hoadley's "Understanding Wood" and Flexner's, "Understanding Wood Finishing". I keep going back to these as my interest in otherwise very dry subjects deepens. There's a new layer to the onion in each of these.

    For how to, if I were learning from scratch again, I'd consider Shannon Rodger's Hand Tool School. I find him very knowledgeable, teaching-centric, and very accessible (and I haven't even enrolled in his classes; I only believe this through his podcast and personal email conversations with him).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Adams View Post
    I'd like to find a good book on wood finishing which looks at the options for it using natural materials/traditional techniques.
    Though the focus isn't expressly on natural materials or traditional techniques, Bob Flexner's books have been the best I've found on finishing. He does an excellent job of comparing/contrasting different finishes and techniques to help you settle on the best options for any given application.

  11. #11
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    Hoadley, Understanding Wood

    Joyce, Encyclopedia of Furnituremaking

    Hayward, The Woodworker, The Charles H. Hayward Years Vols. I-IV

  12. #12
    Good point, there's also:

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fpl_gtr190.pdf

    the U.S. Forestry Service's, Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material (Centennial Edition).

  13. #13
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    Roy Underhill has about six books out that you might want to look through.....don't even have to buy them...just go to the local Library and check them out.....

  14. #14
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    i am going to suggest the books written by james krenov. there are four. you should be able to find them used from amazon.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by keith wootton View Post
    i am going to suggest the books written by james krenov. there are four. you should be able to find them used from amazon.
    I'd like to second this. Buy and read at least the first one for sure. The biggest thing I learned from it is that the parts you don't normally see (bottom, back, etc) matter too. Make them look good yoo.
    Fred

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