Being a lover of Japanese design and tools, I’m embarrassed to say I only picked this book up in the last year. I was anticipating a straightforward, almost encyclopaedic, approach documenting the history and use of most Japanese woodworking tools. I got that, but also so much more. The stories Odate tells of his youth and apprenticeship are truly jaw-dropping, and reveal as much about working wood in Japan as what life in a fascinating and secluded Pacific country was like when he was young. I was five minutes into this book, and I guess I had an astonished look on my face, when my wife politely asked how I was enjoying the book. I looked up in bewilderment, paused for about five seconds, and said “It would take me an hour to explain what I’ve learned in the last five minutes,” and went on reading. Even though this book has been around for decades, it’s worth reading today.
I’m building my second bench. I built the first years ago with wood from old machinery pallets – mostly oak and maple. Mortised the legs into the base, and pegged ’em with 1″ dowels. Of course, the legs warped a bit, but that made everything tighter and stronger. The top is 2″ thick Ash, one board cut in half and joined side to side. Wrapped a maple apron around the top, and I think I screwed the top from underneath to the leg braces. Solid. Over time, built a cabinet under for 3 drawers and a small cabinet door. Works for me.
Proportion is the correlative relationship of all the parts to the whole. Although proportion usually refers to size, it is also a way to compare harmony between colour, quantity, placement and degree. Proportion is achieved when all sizes, shapes, textures, colors and so on complement one another. Remember that the eye appreciates some differences and may find equal parts monotonous and boring. Dividing space into equal parts such as halves, quarters and thirds is predictable and as a result the eye often skips past it.
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is not to brag, but to alert you to a great deal. Recently, we had a chance to acquire the last print copies of these five books, which were sitting, overlooked, in a warehouse. The books mainly have black and white interiors and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. And every one offers more than 300 pages of excellent advice on woodworking projects and techniques.
4. Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide To Finishing by Jeff Jewitt. This isn't the only book on the subject, but it's a great place to start. The real strength here is the bounty of color photos, which show exactly what's happening as you finalize your projects. It discusses finishing new projects, but also repairing old finishes and matching vintage pieces. It's not a "start here, end there" walk through, so you'll need to familiarize yourself with the way it's organized before beginning a project, but it is indeed a "complete illustrated guide" with encyclopedic-like thoroughness. Belongs in every library. 
Olympia Tools is a bit of a lesser known manufacturer. While they offer a wide range of products for a variety of construction fields, they are definitely more of a budget option. That said, Olympia Tools is one of the few brands that manages to produce a reasonable quality at a low price which makes them a solid choice for customers looking to get the best bang for the fewest bucks.
Grizzly is a company currently undergoing an upheaval. This brand was once known as a manufacturer of professional grade tools and equipment for woodworking products. Though, in recent years, that reputation has begun to slip a bit since being bought by the Chinese company SIEG. These days, whether the Grizzly product stands up to its previous standards of excellence often has more to do with what you are buying than the company itself.
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