Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Favourite Woodworking references; Books

That's right; not favor but favour :-)

I am definitively not getting much shop time these days, so here goes another post from my computer bench...

A sampling from my library, you will recognize some I am sure, but there are probably a few you never heard of?

Part 1 BOOKS on Techniques for working wood.

The encyclopedia of Furniture making, by Ernest Joyce.

First published in 1970, my copy is a revised edition with Alan Peters published in 1987.  This is a very complete book covering just about any operations, joints and etc. often used as a work book by various school.  This book was THE required reference for some of the woodworking classes at Rosewood studio, when they were located in Almonte Ontario.  They have now moved close by in Perth, Ontario.

Continuing with classes texbooks, here are some oldies;

The complete book of woodworking, by Rosario Capotosto.

First published in 1975, mine is a 6th printing edition from 1978.
I know, I'm dating myself :-)... Heavily power tool oriented, typical of the day, it is nonetheless quite complete, from trees to how the wood is prepared to building various furniture design, including wall partitions in a house and some typical house repairs.  Not only does it cover the usual power tools such as tablesaw, radial arm saw, bandsaw, joiner etc. but in a nod to the home users it also covers the basic handtools operations and even the Shop Smith multi power tools contraption.

Modern woodwork, the Steck Industrial arts series, by Ralph J. Vernon

Copyright 1954. Typical  of high school woodworking classes, this book is specially targeted to students and is designed as a classbook, complete with Standard Student Accident Report Form. Throughout the various chapters there are questions with spaces provided for answers.  At the back of the book there are a few typical projects which some of you probably did if you attended woodshop in those days. I still have my first projects I build back in the 60s, an octogonal stool and a three legged table.

The handyman's book, by Paul N. Hasluck

Originally published in 1903, it is a compilation of various work by Paul, who was a very prolific writer in its day. My copy is from Bracken book and was published in 1995.  I quite like this book, it is a treasure trove of information on everything about working wood by hand, of course.  I was first attracted to it for the in depth info on how to use and care for various WW tools, some I never knew existed at the time.  This is where I first learn to sharpen center bits and etc. properly. Highly recommended.

The complete woodworker, edited by Bernard E. Jones

Although, I cannot see any original credit for it, it is definitively 1920s by its appearance and the tools illustrated inside, there is a reference to Stanley Rule & Level Company (1857-1935), and the chapter on making moulding is devoted entirely to the Stanley No 55 (1897-1962), a planing mill in itself. In my humble opinion, you are better to stick with the classics Hollow & Rounds to make moulding, but heh!
It is quite a complete reference book on the subject of working wood.  It is billed as one of the "Great classics in the field". Never heard of it before I found that copy...
My copy was published by 10 Speed press in 1980.

Now lets jump a few years and look at more modern references...

Woodworking: The Right Technique, by Bob Moran
(to my French reader: Not to be confused with Bob Morane, the adventurer :-)

Published by Rodale press in 1996.  What I like about this book is the fact that most operations are shown using three different techniques, using different tools, either power or hand tools.  Very neat, it shows you how to get by with the tools you have. It also has a few jigs throughout to facilitate or make safer some operations using power tools. Quite complete.


The fine art of cabinet making, by James Krenov.

Originally published in 1977, mine is a copy published by Sterling books 1992.
Not quite a How to Book Per Se, it nonetheless covers a few techniques and tool setup, along with his infamous dowels carcass construction method. A very interesting read.

Worker in Wood, by James Krenov.

Originally published in 1981, mine is a copy published by Sterling books 1997.
Definitively not a how to book, but give more insight to his way of thinking and his design process. A nice gallery of some of his work.

Furniture-making techniques, by David Charlesworth.

The best from Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazines, a collection of articles he wrote for the magazine.
Guild of Master Crafstman (GMC) Publication 1999.
Anything from setting up tools a la Charles to making some in wood such as a spokeshave and marking gauges.  Charles is well know for being quite fussy about his tools, some would say fanatic, but regardless of where you stand on that subject, you could learn from the man... 

Although not shown because I cannot locate my copy at the moment, lets not forget Tage Frid teaches woodworking in 3 volumes


Green woodwork, working wood the natural way, by Mike Abbott.

Guild of Master Crafstman (GMC) Publication, first published in 1989, mine is a 1998 publication.  Take a look at the minimalist woodworking tool kit on the cover, I count 11 tools on his tool's tote. Make that 12 with the gouge he is using to turn at the lathe, but it is still amazingly minimalist for sure. A great book on the subject of working wood, green from a British woodworker.

Country woodcraft, by Drew Langsner.

A hand book of traditional woodworking techniques and projects.
Rodale press 1978. Drew and his wife Louise have been running a school
Country workshop for many many years... 
Peter Follansbee started learning woodworking green with them years ago, need I say more? A very well illustrated book showing various details of appliances and techniques to build a variety of green woodwork.

Cedar, by Hillary Steward

University of Washington Press originally published in 1984, mine was published in 1995
I love this book, because it is all about the mighty cedar tree of our Pacific coast and how our aboriginal people (First Nations) have work this tree for eons, long before us white men shown up on the coast and introduced them to metal implements. Fascinating what you can do with wedges and etc and how you can fell giant trees without saws or axes.  If you want to learn what can be done with cedar, from long houses to small boxes and trivets etc, this is a must read.
For those who knows and respect the spirit of the cedar.

A reverence for wood, by Eric Sloane.

Originally published in 1965, mine is from Ballantine books 1974
Perhaps best knows for his drawings, Eric published various books of historical values, but none is better known to woodworker than by this book.
A real gem depicting the long relationship of man with trees and how various part were harvested for various implements. Contain some great drawings of long forgotten tools and implements, techniques etc. A must in your library!

Sawpower, making lumber in the sawmills of Nova Scotia, by Barbara R. Robertson.

Co-published by Nimbus publishing and the Department of education, Nova Scotia museum in 1986.  I was attracted to this book to learn the history of sawmills in Nova Scotia. What I did not expected to find was the levels of details to be gleaned from old photographs of saw mills employees. Leave it to a woman to see an angle most of us would have overlooked. She can spot the sawmill operator (the sawyer) from the group along with the owners if present by their clothes! The premises being that the best paid employee was the head saw operator, he could make or break the operation depending on how he cut the logs for the best yield and best product. Interesting, but make sense when you think about it. He is therefore always one of the best dressed in the group pictures, and his deportment make him stand out from the bosses (when they are present in the pics and the remainders of the employees)  I never looked at old picture the same way since I read this book many years ago...:-)
It covers the technology from the first wind power saw mills to water then steam and electricity and their impact on the traditional pit sawyers and the growth of urban sprawl fuel by the demands for wood.

Next part we will look at books on tools from identification, value and how to used them.

Bob, getting a sun tan on his scanner bed...


  1. Robert a while back I read a post about singer sewing machines. These days, where do you find the drive belts for the treadle machines?
    Thank you

  2. Hi Boyce.
    You can find them all day long at Amazon and EBay. They come in 6 foot long you then cut them to fit your machine. Besides the traditional leather belts you can also find some made of rubber. You joined both ends by a metal clips which comes with it. You can also buy special cutters and pliers to crimp the metal clip. If you need more info just ask.