Book about basic carpentry and furniture-making?
April 20, 2010 2:36 PM   Subscribe

What is the book on basic carpentry and furniture-making techniques? I have started to pick up DIY furniture making as a hobby, but I don't know any of the basics, like how to make joints and kerfed edges, how to cut plywood without splintering, which tools and materials to use and how, and so on. It should be a reference/how-to book with lots of pictures. When dealing with obscure hobbies there often exists a legendary out-of-print, hard-to-find tome published the 1970s that everyone in the field has and cherishes, like this one (which I have), but which one is it?
posted by gentle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about a single, all-knowing, authoritative book. It's my impression that anyone undertaking a craft can learn from almost any competently written book on the subject. To that end, I recommend this website:
It's a collection of 175 books on woodworking and there is no subscription fee. Why don't you wander around through some of them and figure out if they can teach you something? My father is an experienced woodworker but he still enjoys reading books on the subject. Good luck.
posted by Jenna Brown at 4:20 PM on April 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Tage Frid teaches woodworking. After that, Taunton publishes a number of great books on carpentry and woodworking.
posted by notyou at 4:29 PM on April 20, 2010

Not A Carpenter but the quality of my finished work made leaps and bounds when I amalgamated the approach of James Krenov's books with the straightforward working-in-plywood techniques of Richard Berry's Build Your Own Telescope
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2010

You probably can't wrong wrong with anything published by Taunton.

Sunset magazine used to be much more DIY and published many books about making furniture* and other woodworking designs. Most of the projects are fairly simple (not Chippendale knockoffs you find in Fine Woodworking.) I would look for the old 1960s and 70s era books and magazines.

Nomadic Furniture is pretty legendary, but I don't know if that's the kind of thing you're looking for

*I think this issue has my all-time-favorite piece of furniture: a chair made of cardboard and balloons!
posted by vespabelle at 4:42 PM on April 20, 2010

I used to work in the warehouse at Taunton Press. Woodworking is a hobby of mine and I liked all of their furniture building books. I really liked their Complete Illustrated... set. The Joinery book is particularly awesome.
posted by sanka at 4:54 PM on April 20, 2010

I enjoyed reading and using The Carpenter's Manifesto. It taught me a lot, including about skills I only wish I could use.

Just this evening I was putting a layer of finish on a table I am making out of salvaged old growth pine and cypress. The pine is hard, and the cypress has 50 rings to the inch. Ah, wood.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 5:47 PM on April 20, 2010

Carpentry is hardly an obscure hobby. Go to your local library, they should have a lot of good books.

Seconding Tage Frid.

Cutting plywood without splintering is easy - you just need a table saw with the right blade. You can tape over the cut line with masking tape to help.
posted by kenliu at 6:15 PM on April 20, 2010

The Krenov books are out of print but are worth finding. They won't teach you much in terms of technique, but they're very inspirational.
posted by kenliu at 6:16 PM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: It was a thread here, I think, ages ago that encouraged me to buy my fella the Fine Woodworking magazine's compiled book: Proven Shop Tips. He loves it.

Oh, look! BetterWorldBooks has used copies for only $3.98
posted by Kerasia at 8:20 PM on April 20, 2010

It's hard to beat Taunton's Illustrated Complete Woodworking series.

However, Nakashima's The Soul of a Tree is simply amazing.
posted by mearls at 5:36 AM on April 21, 2010

nthing the Taunton illustrated series. I would start there. The Krenov, Nakashima and Frid books are all gems, but they are idiosyncratic works by artists, and are often more about philosophy, not how-to books.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:13 AM on April 21, 2010

Krenov's The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking does have good practical advice on tool sharpening, choosing/laying out wood for a project, making jigs for dowelling and other special tasks...

I find Youtube has lots of short tutorials on making joints or using tools that can be very useful.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2010

Best answer: I had good luck with Bob Moran's Woodworking: The Right Technique, and it sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for. $0.50+S&H at Amazon.
posted by ethand at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers. Of course there are tons of good books about various aspects of woodworking. What I was hoping for was one particular book that covered the basics, because I can't really afford buying a lot of different ones. Case in point: I see that Taunton has published perhaps hundreds of woodworking books on very specific topics; for example, an entire book dedicated to joints. That's too fine-grained for me, no pun intended.
posted by gentle at 4:51 AM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: Woodworking: The Right Technique by Bob Moran was exactly what I wanted.

I also bought Proven Shop Tips by Jim Richey (ISBN 0918804329),which I would consider it as a good companion book to the former. It's a sort of "howto" reference books with entries such as "Routing multiple mortise-and-tenon joints" and "Constant-angle honing" with really good drawn illustrations for each entry.

Understanding Wood was also very impressive, and one I would recommend simply because it's very interesting reading and an exhaustive information source about wood. On the one hand it's a great coffee table book, richly illustrated with photos and drawings, but on the other hand it goes into the chemistry and biological structure of wood, and the techniques to deal with the different types of wood, at an insanely detailed level.
posted by gentle at 6:04 AM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: And thanks for the tip about Great bookstore, and a great alternative to Amazon. If you're in Europe, as I am, they ship from Frankfurt, apparently.
posted by gentle at 6:05 AM on May 28, 2010

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