Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 books for beginner woodworkers

While there are lot of resources to help you become a better woodworker – courses, blogs, videos, wood shows, and the like – books are still a great reference tool.

1. Understanding Wood: A Craftsman’s Guide to Wood Technology, Bruce Hoadley

ISBN: 978-1561583584
The definitive book on the nature of wood, how and why it moves, how this movement affects the things you build, how you can deal with wood movement, how to store your wood, and how to mill your wood. The best way to learn about the material that is central to your work.

2. Understanding Wood Finishing: How to Select and Apply the Right Finish, Bob Flexner

ISBN: 978-0875965666
Often referred to as the ‘Bible of Wood Finishing’, this is simply the most comprehensive yet practical book on finishing ever written. Flexner explains the chemistry and mechanics of finishes, in clear language, supplemented by very informative illustrations and colour photos.

3. A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook, James Krenov

ISBN: 978-0941936590
Krenov is one of the most influential woodworkers of the past four decades. This, the first of his five books, explores the deeper meaning of the craft – our relationship to the materials we use and the approach we bring to our work. It’s more than making sawdust.

4. Getting Started with Hand Planes: How to Choose, Set Up, and Use Planes for Fantastic Results, Scott Wynn

ISBN: 978-1565238855
Hand planes remain one of the defining tools in the woodworker’s repertoire, and every woodworker should know how to use the tool effectively. This is the book that sets you on the path to plane mastery, and it helps you stay true along the way.

5. Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, Paul Sellers

ISBN: 978-0993442308
This is the book I would have loved to have had when I first started woodworking. It’s an excellent primer for both novice and hobbyist woodworkers on selecting, using, and caring for woodworking hand tools, from a man with some 50 years of woodworking experience under his tool belt.

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6. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Joinery, Gary Rogowski

ISBN: 978-1561584017
Putting boards together is what woodworking is all about. You won’t find a more thorough treatment on joinery. Rogowski, the director of the prestigious Northwest Woodworking Studio, covers in detail just about every joinery method under the sun.

7. Illustrated Cabinetmaking: How to Design and Construct Furniture That Works, Bill Hylton

ISBN: 978-1565233690
Hylton takes you through the construction details of a wide range of furniture. Everything from tables to desks, to cabinets, showing you how each piece goes together. The text is clear, concise and informative, and the illustrations are invaluable.

8. The Perfect Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers, Ron Hock

ISBN: 978-1440329951
Sharpening is a fundamental woodworking skill. You can’t do your best work with dull tools. Hock takes the mystery out of tool steel and abrasives, covering all the various sharpening techniques, both hand and powered, for all the tools you’ll ever need to sharpen.

9. Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship, Peter Korn

(ISBN-13: 978-1561586202)
A good house is built on a strong foundation, and this book provides the fundamental techniques you need to learn to master the craft. Written by a master furniture maker and founder of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.

10. Workbenches Revised Edition: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use, Christopher Schwarz

ISBN: 978-1440343124
Building your own workbench is, for many woodworkers, a rite of passage. It’s also one of the most important tools in your shop. Schwartz knows more about workbenches than anyone, and his book takes you through the process of designing, building and using two great styles.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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