Thursday, March 19, 2009

A few favorite woodworking books

My first favorite woodworking book is actually a set of three great books by one great woodworker. Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: A Step-By-Step Guidebook is my recommendation for a first group of books for not only a beginning woodworker, but for ANY woodworker. Sometimes volumes 1 & 2 are combined in one book, with volume 3 separate. If you can afford it, I like the offering of all three books, with a bonus DVD available from Lee Valley. I haven't seen the DVD, but have read great things about it. Shrug, may make it worth the price! A lot cheaper than the same set directly from the publisher. But, if you are looking for just the books, you should be able to find them used for a total of less than $30 for all three.
If you are looking for used copies, phone calls to local bookstores are sometimes fruitful, but I really like ABE books if your local options are limited. I also like Daedalus Books, which is often worth a look for newer titles, but is hit and miss.
Second, I would recommend any of the five or six books by James Krenov - don't I make shopping easy? (Grin) If you need a place to start, I recommend his "A Cabinet Maker's Notebook" which was first published in 1976. Yes, there are a number of master woodworkers out there, including my favorite Sam Maloof, but start here, even if you don't like what Krenov makes. He writes well and conveys information in a clear easy to read style. His writing got me excited about doing excellent (instead of workmanlike) projects. If you don't immediately buy "A Cabinet Maker's Notebook", find any of his books in a brick and mortar store, open to a random page, and begin reading. If you end up standing in one place long enough that your feet fall asleep, buy the book.
My last recommendation is Peter Korn's Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship which is a great step-by-step series of classes in book form. While no book can completely substitute for the presence of a teacher showing you the way, I think this book has enough detail to move you in the direction of becoming a great woodworker. I feel this book also serves as a good introduction to the Taunton Press series of the "The Complete Illustrated Guide To" books, which are all wonderful and written by masters. I was able to get most of the series from Daedalus at a sharp discount, several years after they were first published. Really, it all depends on where you are going with your woodworking & what tools you are using to get there. For example, if you do a lot of woodworking on the bandsaw, I have to recommend Lonnie Bird's "The Bandsaw Book". And if you are interested in lathe work there is no better book than Ernie Connover's "The Lathe Book". Gotta love the unambiguous titles! It all depends on the direction woodworking pulls you. Oh - don't forget your local public library when it comes to woodworking books or any printed matter. Best place in the world to try before you buy. Clubs and Guilds often have great lending libraries available to their membership; another reason to get involved locally with other woodworkers.


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