Grouping George Nakashima’s The Soul of a Tree and Jim Krenov’s Worker in Wood with Nick Offerman’s Good Clean Fun might seem sacrilegious, but we like how the trio’s perspectives encompass the diverse spirit of woodworking. The older books combine photos of exceptional work with serious reflections on the nature of craftsmanship. Nick is equally passionate about wood and woodworking, but he’s more willing to admit that he’s enjoying himself–a good example for all of us to follow.
Tools: I am inspired by tools, whether the tool is a good chef’s knife, a watercolor paintbrush or a lowly marking gauge. I find 18th-century tools particularly beautiful and elegant in their simplicity. To openly admit I am inspired by my tools makes me somewhat of a kook. But here, amongst friends, I suspect I am not alone. I’ve copied many tools in these books and sought tools that resembled these and been a happier person for it.
The person who coined the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” just might have been a woodworker. Admittedly, new tools and materials have made certain operations faster, safer, and easier, but if a woodworker from the 1900s could visit your workshop, he’d have a tougher time with the K-cup coffeemaker than the table saw. That’s because the basic tenets and tools of woodworking are almost timeless.
Drill a pair of 3/8" holes in each end of the short stretchers, just over half of the depth of the dowels, using a brad-pointed bit. These stretchers already have a groove running their length, centered on the bottom edge. Precise placement isn't necessary, but keeping track of which part is which is. We need a hole in each end of each stretcher. Take care to keep these holes square, you don't want them running at angles.
The Handbuilt Home. Ana White has created a wonderful DIY book. It’s filled with 34 projects she describes as simple, stylish, and budget-friendly. And you’ve probably already guest that they are related to improving your home. Each project has diagrams and instructions. And she tells the level of difficulty and project costs. This book resonates with many readers who want to make things themselves, but they may not have the fancy tools or the budget. Ana shows you how to make beautiful and affordable DIY projects.
As a teacher I find Ernest Joyce’s “The Technique of Furniture Making” (Batson) invaluable, ’tho it is as far away from an enjoyable read as possible. Similarly Bob Wearing’s “Essential Woodworker” (Lost Art Press). Bob is one of the only people who ever gave insight into traditional English technique. I believe the lack of similar books is due to the apprenticeship tradition of teaching, where nothing was ever written down.
First, cut one long edge. Second, cut a short edge, making sure it's square to the long edge you just cut. Clamp both pieces of the edging you'll be using along the long edge you've cut, and measure the width of the base plus 1/4-1/2", mark that, and then lay out a line through the mark that is square to the end you've cut, then cut along the line. Finally, cut the remaining short edge square to both long edges. (The length of the top doesn't need to precisely match anything, so we don't need to bother with clamping the trim before measuring.)
This book was put together to introduce people to the world of carving, and I think it does a great job. Starting with tool selection, sharpening and other important, but often overlooked aspects of the craft, it moves on to discuss chip, relief and sculptural carving. With a chapter on surface decoration as well as a section of scaled patterns to get you started, this book has a bit of everything. And even if you’re not interested in traditional carving projects, the skills learned in this book will introduce you to techniques that can be used to add texture to your next furniture project.
But I still wasn’t entirely satisfied with our list. I wondered if we’d read enough woodworking books as a staff to create a solid list. So we surveyed the readers of my blog (the results of that are on our web site), then asked many of the woodworkers who write for us to contribute lists of their favorite woodworking books. Theirs are below, in their own words (publishers have listed only on first reference; but if no publisher has been noted, the book is available on Google Books at books.google.com).