When I teach I often get asked about a suggested reading list on hand tool woodworking. I have many books on the subject but there are a few that I found to be either highly motivational or a hockey-sock of information. Here are some books that I highly recommend to new hand tool woodworkers.
Classic Hand Tools - Garrett Hack ISBN 1-56158-273-5
I find this book to be both inspirational and informative. Garrett has done a great job at organizing the tools used by a hand tool woodworker into sensible sections, starting with the most important tool, the work bench. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to watch Garrett work or even better, take a class with him, you know that hand tools come to his hands with ease and he has truly mastered them. This comfort and expertise comes through in his writing making it a ‘must-have’ in any woodworking book collection.
The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking - James Krenov ISBN 1-4027-1416-5
I read this book when I first started my education at Rosewood Studio and I’m glad I did. James talks about all matters of studio furniture making but the idea that truly hit home for me was the importance of using the grain and figure in wood so that it is harmonious with the piece you’re making. This book is a somewhat philosophical look at woodworking, so be prepared for a more heady read.
The Anarchist’s Tool Chest - Christopher Schwarz ISBN 978-0578084138
I find this book to be an essential read if you are going to look seriously at cutting the cord and going hand tools only. Chris’s writing style makes learning fun! At first glance you may think that it’s about a tool chest but it’s so much more than that. It’s about, tools, techniques, philosophy and the reality that you don’t need every tool and gadget to be a woodworker. Read it…now!
The Unplugged Woodshop – Tom Fidgen 978-1600857638
This is Tom’s second book. This book and his first are a great look into the life of a woodworker who practices what he preaches. When Tom is in his shop in Toronto, there is not a single power tool to be found. Because of Tom’s commitment to work unplugged, he has developed what I consider ‘mad skills’ in the hand tool arena. The projects in his books will inspire you to work quietly and slow down a bit to enjoy the journey.
This is obviously the tip of the iceberg here but these are the ones that came to mind without having to think too hard. This to my mind means that they are the ones that I think on often. There is also another book that will be available soon that you will absolutely have to read…sorry…couldn't help myself. So grab some books and your favourite beverage and start reading.
In order to understand, you must do. - V