I have a confession to make. When looking for a woodworking book around a year ago, this is pretty much exactly what I did. Well, at first…..
When trying to learn something, I try to use as many resources as I can. As good as the internet can be, it often comes up short when compared with a good book (that being said, a good book often comes up short when compared with tuition from someone who has both knowledge and experience in what you are trying to learn).
I wanted to buy a decent book that would act as a “bench reference” whenever my memory comes up short in trying to recall the properties of a certain wood species or the next step in producing a certain type of joint or a host of other things I am likely to forget until the information is second nature and cemented in my brain.
So, the next step…… Search Amazon!
Although I love leafing through books in a good book store as much as the next book leafing person, finding the time is often a struggle, so my search took me to Amazon.
If you search Amazon using terms such as “Woodworking” , “Woodwork” or “Joinery” (or a host of other similar phrases) you’ll be met with literally dozens of books that fit the general “bill” and that potentially contain all the information you are after.
So how does someone with little knowledge in a field select a book/text that will not only act as a go-to oracle, but will present the information in a way that suits them?
Well, in my experience of buying Physics textbooks, the ones with the most boring covers are often the best and those with flashy pictures on the covers are trying too hard to sell themselves as they fall short in terms of content.
Whether this applies to woodworking texts or not, I had no clue, so my only real option was to select a few books and try and figure out if they are any good.
Now you can ask questions on forums (or search to see if the question has already been asked) etc, but in truth you will only get someone’s opinion and that person’s style of learning my not be the same as your own.
Also, when looking at books on Amazon, my advice would be to concentrate more on the reader reviews than on the description of the book. While the description will help determine the general content of the book (does it focus on characteristics of wood, or projects for the reader or on tool techniques) you can also be sure that it will describe the book as a comprehensive tomb that gives the reader everything they need to know.
I struck lucky if the truth be told. I selected a book initially based on the thumbnail image of the front cover. The book looked great and so I decided to click and read on. I wasn’t disappointed at all. The description was typically as described above, although it did point out that the book contained sections on tools, joinery techniques, wood types and species and also a section focused on projects that the reader could complete in order to develop their wood working skills.
Sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t.
Dorling Kindersley: Wood Work. Not only is the book of a decent size (i.e. lots of info) but the presentation is exactly what I was looking for. I bought this as a hardback as I wanted it to hold up as long as possible.
**Disclaimer** I mentioned above that forums can only present opinions and that differing learning styles mean that what is good for me may not be good for you. This is true here as well. But I will describe why I like the book and you can be your own judge.
In this book, there are a lot of images. A LOT.
Not only does the tool section feature images of almost every tool that is described, but the joinery techniques that are covered are detailed in a step by step process that includes an image for each step. Perfect for someone like me who isn’t familiar with the “lingo” and has a habit of over-complicating things when given any room to work my imagination.
The section in the book that details differing species of woods has a picture of each type of wood as well as describing both the structural and working properties of each wood type. For me, this is great as it has really helped me in becoming familiar with how differing woods look.
Finally the projects section of the book is as detailed as the joinery techniques section. A literal walk through of the projects, 30 in total, starting from the most simple to more complex projects, each building on the techniques and complexity of the previous one.
I can honestly say that I would highly recommend this book. I am no expert by any means, but I found this book so intuitive to read, follow and understand that I felt compelled to write this article in order to highlight how impressed I was with this book.
My Chopping Board Project was based on a project from this book and I will be basing several other up coming projects on material from this book.
**Disclaimer** I should point out that I have read several woodworking books in the last year and this is without doubt the best overall guide to the craft and the tools used to carry it out. I should also point out that I have not and will not receive any financial (or other type of) compensation for writing this article.