Last updated 10/16/99

Included here are both some books I like and sources for books of interest to woodworkers. Also see the OLDTOOLS booklist, which is far more extensive.


Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools
Michael Dunbar
Sterling Publishing Co, Inc., 1989
ISBN 0-8069-6670-X

A great user-oriented guide to selecting, tuning and using a wide variety of old tools. Mostly oriented to cabinet and chair-makers.

The Cooper and his Trade
Kenneth Kilby
Linden Publishing Co, Inc., 1989
ISBN 0-941936-16-3

A technical and historical account of the coopering trade. Kilby is a cooper turned teacher, and the combination of historical and craft expertise in this book is impressive.

The Complete Guide to Sharpening
Leonard Lee
Taunton Press, 1995
ISBN 1-56158-067-8

How to sharpen just about anything, by the president of Veritas and Lee Valley. Full of little anecdotes and samples of Lee's extensive tool collection. Purists may object to Lee's fascination with funky jigs, some of which he happens to sell, but I like seeing multiple solutions to the problems.

Dictionary of Woodworking Tools
R. A. Salaman
The Taunton Press, 1990
ISBN 0-942391-51-9

An encyclopedic reference, with zillions of drawings and extensive notes on a variety of trades. Covers the period 1700-1970. Despite the generality of the title, it discusses only handtools.

Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings
Aldren A. Watson
Lyons & Burford, 1996?
ISBN 1-55821-224-8

I suspect most woodworkers could learn something from this book, but it's especially great if you don't have a real live mentor to show you the tricks of the trade. Watson describes the minutiae of using tools to best advantage; the kinds of things you learn slowly by trial and error or by working day after day with a grizzled veteran. He covers fewer classes of tools than Dunbar, but in greater depth.

The Wooden Plane: Its History, Form, and Function
John M. Whelan
Astragal Press, 1993
ISBN 1-879335-32-8

An encyclopedic reference that covers shaves, scrapers and trade-specialized planes as well as the usual stuff. It covers Asian and Continental planes, and includes a taxonomy of molding plane profiles and a numerical indexing system.

Understanding Wood
R. Bruce Hoadley
Taunton Press, Inc., 1980
ISBN 0-918804-05-1

A great reference on the structure, behavior and machining properties of wood. Includes ways to estimate wood movement and structural strength.

Understanding Wood Finishing
Bob Flexner
Rodale Press, Inc., 1994

A good discussion of the chemical and physical properties of different classes of finishes, making it much less of a black art than a lot of other things I've read. Not as good on aesthetic as on technical points, I think.

Making & Modifying Woodworking Tools
Jim Kingshott
Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd., 1992
ISBN 0-946819-32-7

Not obsessive enough yet? Make your own planes of hand-dovetailed steel.

The Workbench Book
Scott Landis
The Taunton Press, 1987
ISBN 0-918804-76-0

A nice combination of plans and visits to other people's benches old and new. A great source of ideas if you're planning a bench.

Book sources

Cambium Books
P.O. Box 909
Bethel, CT 06801
(203) 426-6481

Good selection, online ordering.

Lindsay Publications
PO Box 538,
Bradley IL 60915
(815) 935-5353

A quirky collection of technology books. Wood is in the minority, but worth a look.
Linden Publishing
352 W. Bedford, #105
Fresno, CA 93711
(800) 345-4447
Linden's Woodworker's Library catalog has a great selection of books and videos on woodworking, tools and allied topics.

Woodworkers' Discount Books
735 Sunrise Circle
Woodland Park, CO 80863
(800) 378-4060
A nice selection of books and videos, often at good prices. Free shipping on orders of 3 items or more.

Taunton Press
63 S. Main St.
P.O. Box 5506
Newtown, CT 06470
(800) 888-8626
Taunton publishes Fine Woodworking and Home Furniture magazines. They also publish an ever-expanding list of woodworking books and videotapes, including two series of FWW reprint collections.

Astragal Press
5 Cold Hill Road Suite 12
P.O. Box 239
Mendham, NJ 07945
(201) 543-3045
Astragal Press specializes in books on early tools, trades and technology. Catalog available.

Dover Publications
31 East 2nd St.
Mineola, NY 11501
Dover, which publishes mostly low-priced reprints, has a selection of furniture and woodcarving books. No phone or credit card orders.

Toolemera Press Gary Roberts makes high-quality reproductions of old tool catalogs, instruction manuals and ephemera. List on request.

Sam Allen The prolific author sells his own books, along with the complete line of Sterling DIY books.

The Early American Industries Association has a catalog of books available to members at a discount.

Up to the Electronic Neanderthal