Everyday Woodworking Podcast Season 2, Episode 4
Essential Woodworking Books
Welcome to Everyday Woodworking, a podcast for smart discussions about the craft, business and love of woodworking, both as a hobby and a profession.
I’m your host, Ricky Fitzpatrick. I am a woodworker, and the owner of Apple Valley Farm, where we make handmade crafts and décor. I’ve been woodworking most of my life, and now with Everyday Woodworking, I have the opportunity to share my experience, thoughts and even my challenges with you.
And I can’t wait for you to join me right here for the next episode of Everyday Woodworking.
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Everyday Woodworking Podcast! Boy have we got a LOT happening around here.
In case you don’t know, our woodworking business is just booming right now. Some of it is just unexplainable to me, but at least for the moment, it’s because it’s September. And this is always the start of the very busy Holiday Season, that runs through about mid-December.
Plus, we’re just starting to work on a new podcast about the area where we live and work, Jackson County, GA. That’s a lot of fun, but lots of planning involved.
And finally, the Everyday Woodworking podcast is just exploding in growth. It’s crazy. And exciting. And I just found out yesterday that we’re going to be spending some time with Roy Underhill as a part of an interview for an upcoming episode.
Roy is the creator and host of The Woodright’s Shop, which is an iconic woodworking show. I still can’t believe I’ve even been emailing with him, much less getting ready to have a conversation with him. It’s just amazing, the doors that are opening and the people that God is putting our path.
But, this week’s show is also going to be a lot of fun. And as an avid book junkie, I’m very excited about this one. This week, we’re talking about Essential Woodworking Books.
We all have them. We all love them. And we all want more of them! But if we had to narrow the list down to just an essential handful, what would they be? Well I’m going to tell you MY picks…
But not yet…
We’re going to jump into all that in just a second. But before we do, let’s take a quick break.
When I was a teenager, before the days of eBooks and digital downloads…I remember going to the bookstore in Georgia Square Mall, in Athens. Most of the kids were cruising around outside (if you don’t know what “cruising” is then shame on you. You young whippersnapper…
But I was almost always inside, lost in the record store (yes, records) or the bookstore.
My book buying process was pretty straightforward. Browse titles that I’d never heard of, and buy the first one that had a cover that caught my attention. Really. I was that shallow.
But I encountered countless amazing reads that way. A few duds. But overwhelmingly, a lot of wonderful books. Many of which, I still have today.
One of them was the first book on my list:
Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills, by Abigail Gehring (editor). It isn’t specifically a woodworking wood, but there are woodworking ideas in there. And it was Back To Basics that captured my imagination, through simple, easy to follow ideas and projects.
To be honest, I don’t have that first copy. But after I lost it, I went right back downtown and bought another one. And I’m looking at it right now on my bookshelf.
It’s my first suggestion for an essential book that every woodworker should have in their collection. I will never be without it.
The next title is The Complete Book of Woodworking by Tom Carpenter. Considered by many to be the woodworking bible, I would highly recommend it. Especially for beginning woodworkers.
The Complete Book of Woodworking is filled not only with simple, non-intimidating projects that will test and push your skill, but it’s chock full of basic technique tutorials. And that’s why it’s so important to me.
Even if you’re an experienced craftsman, a book that re-covers the basics, well, is never a bad thing.
Next is Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop, by Nick Offerman.
If you’re a Parks & Recreation fan, then you might be saying “Why does Ron Swanson have a woodworking book?”
But actually Nick Offerman is a highly respected and extremely talented woodworker. And this is one of his best (IMO) and most popular titles.
In the middle of his signature brand of humor, ramblings, essays and such, you’ll find some very well-presented tutorials for a variety of woodworking projects. It’s definitely a book you’ll want to have around the shop, plus it makes for great conversation, even with non-woodworkers.
Next, we have The Handy Shop Reference: Useful Facts and Figures for Every Woodworker, by Tom Begnal.
At first glance, this looks like some 100 year-old manual that has been reprinted and passed down through generations. But it was published in 2018. Nevertheless, it’s still incredibly relevant and just jam packed full of useful shop info.
Tom Begnal is the previous editor of The Woodworker’s Journal magazine, so you could say he knows a thing or two about woodworking. And that would be correct. He does.
The Handy Shop Reference is my go-to book when I have one of those simple but “unrememberable” shop questions. Like those pesky conversions (argh, math!), wood characteristics and the like. It truly is a reference book.
I would buy this for my sons for Christmas if I knew they wouldn’t disown me. But you know they’d thank me later!
Next is Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture, by Marc Spagnuolo.
Marc is one of my favorite “modern day” woodworkers. You may know him as “the wood whisperer”, the name of his persona and online program that has made him famous.
Marc, admittedly, isn’t a woodworker, by trade. But a content creator of woodworking techniques. But hey, who cares? He’s funny, talented and very, very informative. You should subscribe to his YouTube channel, if you aren’t already.
His treatment of the mixture of hand and power tools in woodworking is incredibly well done. And even if you’re like me and you don’t aspire to the level of craftsmanship this book explores, it’s still a fascinating look into the hybrid use of hand a power tools in the shop.
Next, The Essential Woodworker: Skills, Tools and Methods, by Robert Wearing.
When it comes to traditional hand tool skills, Robert Wearing is one of the finest instructors. And his attention to detail in The Essential Woodworker is what makes this an indispensable book for the woodworking shop. With the assumption that the reader need to know every detail, he presents just that.
One of the most comprehensive basic woodworking skills books I have ever seen, yet still extremely easy to ready.
Another one of those titles that would be truly essential for the beginning woodworker, but equally valuable for a master craftsman to have as well. This could be my #1.
Next up, The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood, by Silas J. Kyler and David Hildreth
The Art and Craft of Wood is not a title that I personally own. Although, I’m about to.
Silas and David (the authors) are terribly curious to me. They’re also filmmakers, and responsible for Felled, a documentary about using urban timber in a sustainable way. Just a wonderful movie, that I highly recommend. (You can watch it on most streaming services. I’ll put a link in the show notes, below.)
But aside from my appreciation for their other work, the knowledge of taking something from tree to craft is something every woodworker should have. At least in some capacity.
Many of us are way too used to just swinging through the local big box store and grabbing a truckload of overpriced, subpar, imported lumber that even so, we have little to no appreciation for. That is a travesty.
Get yourself a copy of this book, as I am, and never let it be said again that you don’t know where your wood came from.
If you’re a woodworker and you don’t have either a memory of or a book by Roy Underhill, then I’m shocked. Roy is the king of traditional woodworking skills, and IMO, the most engaging thinker in our genre.
Roy’s title, The Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft is a classic. And with good reason.
Forget your CNC router or your laser-guided, helical-head planer. If you want to know how to get the most out of your traditional hand tools, there simply is no better teacher than Roy Underhill.
For 37 seasons, he has captivated PBS viewers with his show The Woodwright’s Shop. And this title of the same name brings those same lessons to the page.
Roy has a unique way of teaching us. He mixes logic and a high degree of intellect with humor and theatrics, in a way that no other woodworker does and has ever done. If you want an example, you just have to watch his TED Talk (Have Broadaxe, Will Travel) at TEDx Raleigh. (I’ll put a link below.) That’s Roy, in a nutshell. Smart. Charismatic. Creative. Effective. And completely unique.
He is, to me, the Woodworker Philosopher, and one of my favorite people on the planet. Get this book. Become a lifelong fan.
Finally, no woodworking book list of mine would be complete without a title from my favorite Yankee ca-penter…Norm Abram.
Norm’s Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter is without question, an essential.
I cannot fathom why it’s not even in the top 500 woodworking titles on Amazon (what!?), but that, my friends, should not be so!
Yes, I’m somewhat infatuated with the man (as a carpenter, I mean), but even so, this is a remarkable overview of, well…essential woodworking skills.
M2C1 is, as mentioned on Amazon, a very “meat and potatoes” kind of book, digging into simple hand tools. The kind that we all need to know how to use well, but few of us really do.
I would even go as far as saying, if you had to pick only one of the titles I’ve mentioned here today, this would be my pick.
I will say, as with most of my favorites, this is not a book for fine furniture makers. It’s a woodworker’s read. Norm is known for being a carpenter, and that’s exactly who this caters to. If you’re a master cabinet maker, you’ll still probably find this book a well-written novelty, but if you’re like me, then you’ll keep it for years as an indispensable guide to basic skills that you never want to let grow dull.
So a quick rundown (in no particular order) of the list of titles again, just to have them all in one handy place:
Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills, by Abigail Gehring (editor)
The Complete Book of Woodworking by Tom Carpenter
Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop, by Nick Offerman
The Handy Shop Reference: Useful Facts and Figures for Every Woodworker, by Tom Begnal
Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture, by Marc Spagnuolo
The Essential Woodworker: Skills, Tools and Methods, by Robert Wearing
The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood, by Silas J. Kyler and David Hildreth
The Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft, by Roy Underhill
Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter, by Norm Abram
As I mentioned earlier, this is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m absolutely certain someone out there is about to come through the speakers because I left out “Yadda Yadda by So and So”. And hey…I get it.
If you have a title that you think should be included, let me know. Tell me what, by who and where I can get it. And if I don’t already own it, I’ll check it out and see just how right you are!
And of course, if you found this list helpful, I’d love it if you let us know.
One of the best places to share your thoughts or questions is on our new Facebook Group. Just search for Everyday Woodworking on the Facebook app and join us there or I’ll leave a link to the group in our show notes.
A last couple of things, before we go…wherever you enjoyed this episode, please take a second and leave us a great review and spread the word to your friends about us. And of course we would love it if you subscribed to us and became a regular listener.
Also, we try to post a video of each Podcast Episode on our Apple Valley Farm (our woodworking business) YouTube Channel. So if YouTube is your thing, then definitely look us up and like, comment and subscribe to us there as well.
Finally, your support helps make it possible for Everyday Woodworking to continue to be on the air. So we’d love it if you blessed us with your financial support through our friends at Patreon. Monthly support starts at just $5. Thank you in advance for your help! - https://www.patreon.com/everydaywoodworking
And that is it for now. Again, thank you so much for being here. We hope you enjoyed this. Have a great day, and we’ll look forward to seeing you next time…right here, on Everyday Woodworking.
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Back To Basics (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/2XC4jJL
The Complete Book of Woodworking (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/3Arjh3A
Good Clean Fun (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/3lA51zf
The Handy Shop Reference: Useful Facts and Figures for Every Woodworker (on Amazon) -
Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/3nMOElq
The Essential Woodworker: Skills, Tools and Methods (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/2XwzFkr
The Wood Whisperer YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWoodWhisperer
The Art and Craft of Wood (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/3Eyn6WP
Felled (on Vimeo on Demand) - https://vimeo.com/ondemand/felled/472465184
Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/2XxfeEg
The Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft (on Amazon) - https://amzn.to/3CrJFuF
Have Broadaxe, Will Travel, TED Talk from TEDx Raleigh - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au1TbIyLcPU
We also couldn’t make the Everyday Woodworking podcast happen without a LOT of help from our friends behind the scenes.
Thanks to the folks at https://www.online-convert.com/ for helping us convert our files into the formats we need.
PhotoScissors for helping us with part of our graphic design tasks for Thumbnails and cover art. - https://photoscissors.com/
And Infinite thanks to the Audacity family. For helping us put it all together in the greatest audio production software on the planet. - https://www.audacityteam.org/
The music for our Season Two podcast intro and outro is from the song Blue Vibes, by guitarist Michael Kobrin, courtesy of Pixabay. - https://pixabay.com/music/modern-blues-blues-vibes-100-bpm-michael-kobrin-3780/
ProWash Ad music - All My Shuffling - Silent Partner. All rights reserved. Used with permission. https://youtu.be/XLxIqdWsveU
EW Patreon Ad music – Punky from https://www.bensound.com
Apple Valley Cornhole Ad music – Dirty Rock – Twisterium. Courtesy of Pixabay. - https://pixabay.com/music/introoutro-dirty-rock-5896/
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