It doesn’t matter if a person has the best wood that money can buy or if they have the best tools that they make if they don’t have the skills to use them effectively. Fortunately, the best woodworking books give readers the knowledge they need to build things that some people can only dream of building. Having said that, we’d like to introduce all of our readers to the books on woodworking that we believe will help woodworkers become better artisans and workmen. Now, let’s get started and make room on our bookshelves for these great books on the subject.
Quick Summary of the Best Woodworking Books
- Best Overall
Working Wood 1 & 2: the Artisan Course With Paul Sellers (Amazon) – Review
- Best Advanced Book
Understanding Wood Finishing (Amazon) – Review
- Best Advanced Joinery Book
Essential Joinery (Amazon) – Review
- Best Book On Wood Finishing
The Why & How of Woodworking (Amazon) – Review
- Best Woodworking Tips
Great Book Of Woodworking Tips (Amazon) – Review
- Best Woodworking Plans
The Complete Book of Woodworking (Amazon) – Review
- Best Reference Book
The Complete Manual of Woodworking (Amazon) – Review
- Best Book On The Basics
Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship (Amazon) – Review
- Best Primer For Wood Joinery
The Joint Book: The Complete Guide to Wood Joinery (Amazon) – Review
Best Overall: Working Wood 1 & 2: the Artisan Course With Paul Sellers
Paul Sellers is a woodworking legend and now he shares his most prized techniques for all of the readers of these two books. Although this two-book set does cost more than other books on woodworking, the information found within it is invaluable. It shows the user how to make quality furniture. And probably the best part about this set is that it doesn’t expect the reader to have access to expensive tools. With just the bare minimum of hand tools and the first book in this set, the reader can do some pretty incredible things with wood.
The second book in this set is dedicated to joinery and guides the reader through several handmade projects. By the end of this book, the reader will be able to make their own European workbench and be the envy of their friends and family. In these books, the reader is going to learn the difference between hardwoods and softwoods, drying and seasoning wood, making round cutting boards, making spoons, making carved bowls, making three-legged stools, and making a kidney-shaped three-legged stool. This is information that will get the beginning working wood in no time flat and with a minimum of fuss.
Best Advanced Book: Understanding Wood Finishing
Before we get too far into this review, we should say that this book probably isn’t suitable for people who are absolutely new to woodworking or wood finishing. Although it has a ton of information that can help just about anyone increase their knowledge about wood finishes, it’s not presented in the simplest format. We’re not saying that new wood finishers won’t get anything out of this book, we’re just saying that there are books that start with a simpler process. Having said that, however, we would like to recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a great book on wood finishes.
In this book, the reader will find more than forty reference tables and troubleshooting guides, along with over three hundred full-color photos. It gives the reader information on the latest techniques and materials and puts things in a concise, if not encyclopedic, manner that allows the reader to access the information quickly. It’s not the most entertaining read on the subject to be sure, but it is probably one of the most information. This isn’t surprising considering that the author, Bob Flexner, has been writing and teaching about wood finishing.
Best Advanced Joinery Book: Essential Joinery
The premise of this book is that if the woodworker has the proper knowledge of wood joints, they can build just about anything. And after reading this book, we say that we would probably agree. This book provides some quality information on the topic and teaches the reader the information they need for joining wood together. Although this book might be too complex for some beginners, for intermediate and advanced woodworkers it should provide just the right information. And it’s presented in an easy-to-read style that has the woodworker spending more time in their workshop and less time reading.
This book is written by Marc Spagnuolo, a woodworker who first created a video podcast on woodworking in 2006 and has been helping people craft their own projects from wood. He’s also been the author of two other books and dozens of articles that have been featured in various woodworking magazines. Even though we do wish he would’ve made this book with more step-by-step directions that would’ve made it more accessible to beginners, we think it’s otherwise a fine book and one that will help the woodworker advance his or her skills.
Best Book On Wood Finishing: The Why & How of Woodworking
Even though this book might concentrate on Kumiko a little bit more than we would’ve liked, we still thought that it was a good book on woodworking. This book explains everything that the reader would want to know on the subject, from woodworking basics to properly choosing lumber and even how to cut joinery accurately. It also provides information on preparing wood and then finishing wood surfaces properly. Other things that can be found in this book include how to design and build cabinets, casework, boxes, chests and even tables.
This book is written by Michael Pekovich—a writer, photographer, teacher, and furniture maker who puts his unique bead on the subject at hand. And the book he’s crafted is not only suitable for those with an intermediate knowledge in woodworking but can also be used by people who are new to it altogether. It’s most certainly a hardcover book that woodworkers are going to want to add to their bookshelf. We found it to be quite useful and to provide information clearly and concisely that was easy to follow and easy to understand.
Best Woodworking Tips: Great Book Of Woodworking Tips
The Great Book of Woodworking Tips is exactly that. It’s a book that’s jam-packed with some great information that makes it a must-have for any woodworker’s bookshelf. Although it does repeat some of the tips more than once, it’s otherwise a great book that provides information that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s also a book that has plenty of pictures and illustrations that help make it easier to use. Some of the chapters that can be found in this book include bandsaws, chop saws, drill presses, glue and gluing, joinery tricks, sanding, sharpening, and a whole lot more.
What are some of the tips that woodworkers can learn from this book? They can learn how to properly sharpen bits and blades, how to route edge joints perfectly, how to glue and clamp curved parts or difficult miters, how to flatten wood that’s been warped, how to move and saw 4×8 sheets by yourself, and common pitfalls to avoid. All of this information and more is organized in a way that makes it easy to reference while working. This is a top-notch book with information and tips from American Woodworker magazine and provides 650+ solutions to some of the toughest woodworking problems.
Best Woodworking Plans: The Complete Book of Woodworking
Anyone who is not just looking for general woodworking information but are actually looking for a comprehensive guide filled with some great indoor and outdoor furnishing projects are going to want to pick up this book. Some of the projects might seem a bit dated and like they come from the 1970s and 1980s, but other than that, it’s a great guide. A guide that’s filled with step-by-step direction, illustrations, diagrams and hundreds of photographs. It’s a 480-page book that gives readers access to woodworking projects such as picture frames, sun loungers, mantel clocks, and chairs.
There are 40+ projects in this book, and these projects come with detailed plans and full lists of materials. Even though this book is great for intermediate and advanced woodworkers who are looking for some ideas, beginners aren’t left out. Woodworkers that are new to the craft will also learn a ton of information about setting up their shops, the principles of basic design, and essential woodworking techniques. All of this makes this comprehensive guide a must-have for any woodworkers library and a book that is a great gift to give woodworkers for Christmas or other special occasions.
Best Reference Book: The Complete Manual of Woodworking
As we start the review of The Complete Manual of Woodworking, we have to start by saying that this book has been around for a while. It was first published in 1989, and as far as we can tell, not a lot of information has been updated. That means that the information in this book is over 31+ years old. As such, that also means that some of the information might be a little bit dated. However, with that being put out front, we would like to now state that this is also one of the most helpful woodworking books available. No wonder it’s been a standard for so long and why many woodworkers continue to turn to it.
Inside of this book are more than 1,800 photos, drawing, and diagrams that cover just about everything about woodworking—from the craft to the art of it all. It’s a book that’s designed to inspire beginners, but also to be useful enough for intermediate and advanced woodworkers to use. It starts off at the very beginning, with information on how trees grow and the properties of wood, and then it turns its attention to other aspects of woodworking. Some of the sections that can be found in this book include designing in wood, power tools, hand tool, joinery, workshops, bending and finishing wood, veneering and a lot more.
Best Book On The Basics: Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship
When we first looked at this book, we thought that it was a book that was designed to help new woodworkers learn the craft. After all, it does kind of seem it’s presented to that audience. However, as we looked through it, we realized that it isn’t really for novice woodworkers. Although it does have some basic information, it doesn’t provide enough context to help new woodworkers make the decisions that they need to make in the workshop. Therefore, we think that this book is better suited for people who have at least an intermediate degree of woodworking knowledge. People who have been around the craft or at least have other books that give them the basic details they need.
Having said that, however, we do feel that this is a good book for woodworkers to use. It’s written by Peter Korn, a woodworker who is known for creating introductory courses for people who want to work with wood. In this book are two small projects that woodworkers can use to advance their prowess and these two projects are a drawer and a side table. This book also has sections on using woodworking machinery, cutting dovetails, milling boards, cutting mortise-and-tenon joints, and how to use hand tools correctly. It’s not a book for the absolute beginner, but it is a good book for someone looking to advance their skills.
Best Primer For Wood Joinery: The Joint Book: The Complete Guide to Wood Joinery
Anyone who is looking for a book that provides information on a how-to basis is probably going to be a little bit disappointed. That’s because this book is more of a reference book on wood joinery than a book that takes the reader from step A to step B. It’s not a bad format, it just might not be suitable for people who want to be walked through the process. For everyone else, however, it’s a book that should be on every woodworker’s bookshelf. It’s a hardcover book with a spiral binding and is designed to be kept in the workshop and near the workbench.
Inside of this book, the reader will find step-by-step illustrated instruction on basic joinery including dovetails, miters, and mortise-and-tenon joints. It also covers both power and hand tool techniques. Another thing that the reader will find in this book is the nature of wood and how it affects the design of the furniture and what glues can be used with it. All of this comes together in an easy-to-use workshop reference that provides intermediate and advanced woodworkers with the information they need to do each and every joinery job correctly.