Books for beginning woodworking
January 25, 2008 3:28 PM   Subscribe

What are some good beginner's level woodworking books that don't require any/many power tools?

I'm looking to eventually do some woodworking for fun. I love the Woodwright's Shop, but I'm looking for something that dials it a little bit from the "Step 1. Chop your own wood". I also don't have a ton of money and only own a dremel, a drill press and a jigsaw, so something that emphasizes hand tools/building your own tools would be cool.
posted by drezdn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Ideally, something that lays out how to make dovetail joints/mortises/tenons/etc. and when to use each of them, explains each of the tools (though I do have a good general tool guide) and maybe offers a cool project or two.
posted by drezdn at 3:29 PM on January 25, 2008

Search for Tage Frid. He used to be the editor of Fine Woodworking, and taught at RISD. I've read many, many of his articles in older issues of Fine Woodworking, but he also has a lot of beginner books, mostly using hand tools. He starts with very basic concepts, but includes a lot of very advanced ideas as well, so he's appropriate for a wide range of skills.
posted by johngumbo at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2008

Have you checked out Roy Underhill's books? Yeah, it's a little more rustic than what you're looking for, but they will get you started in "understanding" wood. Heh.
posted by wfrgms at 5:16 PM on January 25, 2008

My first woodworking book was "The New Yankee Workshop" by Norm Abram. He's kind of famous for having and using lots of power tools but this particular book sticks with straightforward (but nice) projects that don't require a lot of tools. I built several projects from it with a small benchtop tablesaw, a hand drill and a few other small hand tools. Have fun,
posted by drmarcj at 6:32 PM on January 25, 2008

Check out Steve Henderson's books on 2x4 furniture. A table saw would be helpful, but not necessary. Many wood stores, even big chain home improvement stores, will do some cuts for free. My very first woodworking project was to build a work bench from 2x4s, particle board for the surface, bolts, glue and screws. Menard's cut the particle board for me so I ended up with a nice 1.5" thick work surface, the rest I did with hand tools and a drill.
posted by substrate at 8:11 PM on January 25, 2008

You could pick up an old copy of Fine Woodworking on Joinery. FWW offers a bunch of similar books, which are compilations of related magazine articles; they're not written for beginners, exactly, but the information is at least presented in small, digestible bites.

On the more rustic end of things I'd recommend Country Woodcraft, which someone is currently offering for $0.99 on Amazon - snap it up if you're interested, because it's often a rather expensive book.

Everything depends on the kind of work you want to do. Are you charmed by refined hand-work, or just wanting to do utilitarian stuff while avoiding expensive-seeming power equipment? Feel free to email me if you'd like to chat.
posted by jon1270 at 3:42 AM on January 26, 2008

Welcome to the craft. For building your own tools, you'll want to go as old-school as possible. I'd recommend books by James Krenov : Making and Mastering Wood Planes, in particular. I'd also strongly recommend anything by Rob Cosman (an Amazon author search). Unfortunately Rob has yet to write any books, but the DVDs are well-done. The Fine Woodworking books mentioned by jon1270 are very good - they're essentially articles extracted from the magazine, and very readable.

Also, the definative book on Sharpening, as you're gonna be doing a lot of it. :-)

I'd strongly recommend taking a shop class, if you can - woodworking by hand is such a tactile, muscle-motor commitment that I find it difficult to learn more than theory from books. You may well be different, however.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:56 PM on January 26, 2008

Krenov is great (I spent a year with him) but he didn't write the book Bora linked to. Of the books he has written, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking would be the appropriate title.
posted by jon1270 at 2:38 PM on January 26, 2008

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