Friday, October 30, 2015

Favourite woodworking reference's: Books on tools

Last we look at some of my books on working wood, time now to look at book about the stuff we are most passionate about, the tools and implements we used to work wood.


Traditional woodworking handtools, by Graham Blackburn

Published by Gramercy books (Random House) 1998, my copy is 2000
One of my all time favourite. All illustrated with drawings, cover 400 tools, you are probably bound to find the ones you are looking for, since it is all about practical tools needed most.  Good write up on the tools development and a good "how to use" them write up, back by experience. Highly recommended.   

Choosing and using handtools, by Andy Rae

Lark books, (Sterling) 2002, a first edition for a change!
Another of my all time favourite. This book by Andy Rae, covers a vast assortment of tools and how to used them, also back up by experiences, just look at his gorgeous tool cabinet. ( I own a set of plans for it :-) Biggest differences with Blackburn book is that this one is illustrated with photography, but also it covers old and modern hand tools.
A very well rounded up books, love this book, very well organized.

Hand tools for woodworkers, principle and techniques, by Robert Wearing

Sterling publishing 1997.
Another take on the previous two books,  B&W photographs and drawings, covers a lot of the tools used daily in the shop. Perhaps not as in depth as the others but a good reference nonetheless. Robert Wearing is a well known and published woodworker in the British magazines.

Tools and how to use them, by Albert Jackson and David Day

Published by Alfred A Knopf 1978. There are many variations of this book thru the years, this one covers not just woodworking tools but tools of allied construction trades, drywall, plumbing etc. What makes this book a good one is the historical coverage by no other than W.L. Goodman...
No photographs, but two tone colored drawings throughout.

Woodworker's tool guide, getting the most from your hand tools power tools & accessories, by David Day and Albert Jackson

Published by Sterling 1997. One of the many variations of the above book, but this one is covering strictly woodworking tools. A rehash of the previous one? Perhaps, but updated with colour photographs and drawings.  The historical aspect is thinner, but covers some of the common operations.

Mastering hand tool techniques, by Alan & Gill Bridgewater.

Published by Strathearn books Ltd 2005
These two writers comes up often in this field, they too have numerous versions of this book throughout the years. Bought this book a long time ago, so did it made me mastered these tools? Hardly, but covers 180 tools and wood species within 144 pages, a bit light, not what I would call a ''comprehensive'' book on the subject.

The illustrated encyclopedia of woodworking handtools instruments & devices, by Graham Blackburn.

Published by Simon & Shuster 1974.
In typical Blackburn style, the whole book is illustrated with his drawings, what is not so typical of his later books, is the uses of his handwritten text, sample on the cover, which makes it a bit hard to read at time. A well researched book of a more historical nature than how to use them.

Stanley tool guide, various authors from the company's education Dept.

The Stanley Tools company 1952
This guide has been republished numerous times throughout the years and given a modernized view by updating some of the drawings. I own 2 more versions of it of older vintages. Lots of information packed in numerous chart style format.
Since Ralph is learning to sharpen his scrapers, here is the two charts on this subject.

Typical of the way the information is presented.  Originally, these charts were presented in loose wall chart formats, before being repackaged in booklet format. Throughout the years, not all guide contained the same charts, hence why I own three versions, lose charts and booklet form.  It is interesting to see how some have been updated throughout the years... from the 1920s to the 1980s

How to work with handtools and wood, edited by Robert Campbell, manager Stanley educational dept.

This version Stanley tools work, published by Pocket books NY, 1952, 55 and 65. Stanley published numerous books, booklets and etc throughout the years from its educational dept.  This book has been published and updated numerous time it is existence. I own an older version of this book., but this is the one you may run into the most in used bookstore, being relatively newer. Distributed from 1927 to the 80s. A complete How to book, also contains plans for bench and appliances and some furniture projects. A little gem often overlooked. 

Today numerous updated and renamed versions have shown up regularly, here's are some you may recognized, not as in depth coverage as the original version, but cover the basics.

1981, updated with color photographs

1994, projects have also been updated


Bench tools by Fine Woodworking magazine

Taunton Press 1990. A short collections of articles having appeared previously in the magazine. From the days when I actually like this mag.

Classic hand tools, by Garrett Hack

Taunton Press 2001. Beautifully illustrated, more than eye candy, it covers some history and hand tool operation by a gifted artisan. Well worth the cover price.


The handplane book, by Garrett Hack

Taunton Press 1999. I had the pleasure of meeting Garrett a few times via Rosewood studio in Almonte, even got him to autograph my copy :-)
The man has a deep appreciation for his tools and it is reflected in his work.
Beautifully illustrated by John Sheldon, this book covers many aspect of this tools, from history to use in his work. Love this book.

Working with handplanes, best of Fine Woodworking magazine

Taunton Pres 2005. If you have been a reader of the magazine, you have probably read all this collection of articles on the hand plane. Having them assembled together in this format is convenient. The variety of authors covers a good spectrum of techniques from different point of view.
Plane basic, by Sam Allen 

Sterling publishing 1993. The very first book I ever bought on planes. It did help me eventually figured out and tame the beast, but not at first. Some information's did not register until I had a few failures under my belt.

Planecraft, hand planing and modern methods, by C.W. Hampton and E. Clifford

Originally published by C.J. Hampton ltd (Record tools) 1959, republished by Woodcraft 1997.  This book as long become a classic on the handplane. First published in 1934, this is the revised and enlarged 1959 edition, reprint.
Contains a good chapter on the history of the plane with B&W photographs and drawings. Very complete book on the subject of setting up and using the various handplanes made by record tools.

Handplane essential, by Chris Schwarz

F&W Media 2009. Who doesn't know Chris today?  I have been reading his stuff since he started at Popular woodworking, and I follow his blogs. What can I say, I like his style. He has a knack to explain things in common layman terms helping us to better understand the subject. This book is mostly a collection of article that were published thru the years in Popular Woodworking magazine (incidentally, the only magazine I currently subscribed to).  Good thorough read on the subject. If I had this book earlier I would have mastered the handplane a lot faster and easier than by reading Plane basic...

Wooden planes, by David G. Perch and Robert S. Lee

Algrove publishing 2001. Although not a how to use book Per Se, understanding how they are made helps troubleshooting them. I always had this need to understand things, how they are made and used. One of these days, I should make my own...

So why so many books on the subject? ( I still have a few more :-) Because, although none of them covers everything completely, between them they help identify the right tools for the jobs, how to uses and care for them etc.  Besides I will admit that I am a sucker for woodworking books on tools :-)

Bob, who now has a big mess in his library and piles of books everywhere...


  1. Bob,

    Good collection. I'm a sucker not just for books about hand tools but for the tools as well. My name is Ken and I'm.....

    I'm getting better but that is just relative :-).


  2. I have a lot of the same books - my favorites are Blackburn and Hack.
    I didn't know that Stanley had put out stuff like this. Something else to obsess about and start looking for when I rust hunt as I usually ignore the books and magazines.

  3. HI Ken my name is Bob and I have a problem... :-)
    Well truth be known, the only problem i have is to fit 50 pounds of books into a 2 pounds library he he

  4. Ralph, in your rust hunting expeditions, check out used bookstore, they practically always have a section on woodworking books, you never know what you are gonna find. Lots of my "antique" books and ephemera came from EBay in the early 2000s when shipping was still cheap on Ebay. The Stanley charts and guides came from the US via USPS. Its been a while I looked on EBay but im sure they are still plenty.

  5. And I thought I had a lot of books on WW. I had (previously) told myself "that's enough" inspite of the Rotary used book sale coming up next week. So thanks for posting!

    Jim B

  6. Hi Jim
    I know I have this sickness about collecting everything woodworking it seems "-)
    I often came across that pocket book edition of Stanley how to work with tools and wood before I realized what it was. If you come across a similar title, check it out. Stanley was very prolific until the 80s with various books and pamphlets.

    As you can imagine, most of it is today's collectible, but Shhh lets keep that between us and the internet wink, wink :-)

    Bob, who do not need an intervention just yet, I still got some more room :-)

  7. Hey Bob, nice list. I thought I had a lot of woodworking books, but there are a lot on here I haven't seen before. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

  8. HI Brian
    Yeah, I have a few... This is only a sampling :-) I tried to stick to those I don't see often listed in book list, hence why there were no Lost Art Press books, although I like them all and own most of their titles. Nonetheless, the ones shown are among some of my favorites.

  9. Superb collection of woodworking references books on tools. I will buy one of them as well share with my friends who are in this field.

  10. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. APOLLO

  11. Very good post, I have not seen these tools and reference books, my hands-on ability is very poor