With so many choices for woodworking books available online and at your bookstore, it’s often difficult to get clear and reliable information. Which book is best to get and which title might best suit your particular needs?
I’ve been a woodsmith in my own right for over 30 years, and I hope to have solved that for you here. I took a close look many many top selling woodworking books, and zeroed in on these top 5 among the dozens (and dozens) you can find on Amazon.
Then, I put together this review so you don’t have to spend a lot of extra time (or money) on finding the right book for you. If you’re serious, then in the long run, you’ll probably end up with several books covering various woodworking subjects, but here you can zero in on the “best next one” or beginner woodworking book so you can buy with a little more confidence.
With so many books to consider, why not take advantage of my time and research? And so here it is: my awesome reviews of the best overall woodworking books!
Let’s get started…
That’s the first question you really need to answer. If you just want a great woodworking book to get started, or a reference guide for years to come, then you’re covered. If you’re interested in refinishing wood, I wrote an article about staining and finishing a wood door. You might enjoy that article.
I did the homework for you:
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Author & Publisher: Terrie Noll/ Chartwell Books, Inc.
Cover/Text: Spiral bound with glossy pages
This small, usable and quite helpful book may turn out to be quite a surprise when you get it and open it up. “The Joint Book: The Complete Guide To Wood Joinery” covers setting up your jigs, cutting guides and many safety tips. This book may not be for the complete beginner, but if you have any understanding of woodworking and how to use hand and power tools, it’ll serve you well. Terrie covers pretty much every joining method out there, and offers colorful illustrations. It’s spiral bound, so it’ll stay open on your workbench while you follow along. Pretty nifty. This is not a comprehensive woodworking guide, but covers it’s topic in depth. Buy it on Amazon
Level: Beginner to intermediate (and advanced)
The techniques in this woodworking book are aimed more at the beginner then anyone, but if you’re a seasoned woodworker, you’ll still get some great reminders on the basics. 480 packed pages of insights will get you well on your way to creating pieces for your home and family. You’ll get insider info on how to set up a wood shop as well as many other basic information for getting started on the right foot. Light discussions on types of wood, cuts, and joining round out the info. Buy it on Amazon
Level: Beginner to advanced woodworkers
Author & Publisher: Albert Jackson, David Day & Simon Jennings
Cover/Text: Hard Cover & Paperback
This useful reference will probably remind you of the Reader’s Digest Repair Manuals or the higher end resource books put out by popular home improvement stores. An encyclopedic style reference manual that you’ll probably use as a go-to time and time again for learning and relearning woods, properties of wood, veneers, hardwoods, plywood, fiberboard and more. If you’re looking to become an expert, you should get your hands on this book. Some of the photos appear to be dated, and the printing goes back a lot of years, but mostly it doesn’t matter where the information hasn’t changed. This is a great investment for any woodworker’s library. Buy it on Amazon
Level: Beginner to Intermediate (mostly for beginners)
Author (Publisher): DK Publishing
Cover/Text: Hard Cover
This book covers essential woodworking techniques. The steps for projects are broken down for beginners and includes detailed pictures of each step. Hand tool use is a focus, but power tool usage is also explained where power tools should be used. Another encyclopedic reference manual. A great compliment to every woodworker’s library. There is also a section on smaller projects toward the back of the book, which is a great place to start. This is the manual you need to get a head-start on hand tool use if that’s where you are headed. This is a beginning place for the serious long term wood worker. Buy it on Amazon
Author: John Louis Feirer
Cover/Text: Hard Cover & Paperback
This may be the finest woodworking textbook available. There is simply no negative light I can shed on this book. The down low: It was written in 1967, but everything inside still applies today. Written from a troubleshooting point of view, this book addresses the problem before it happens. This book is for both beginners and experts and is a must-have for every woodworker at virtually every level. While the pictures are often dated and will “take you back” the woodworking techniques and safe practices are timeless. Also known as “The Handyman’s Bible”, hobbyists and professionals alike will truly love Cabinet Making And Millwork. Buy it on Amazon
When I say free woodworking plans, I mean it. Free is good when it’s good…. DIY-ers have always been pretty thrifty, and for good reason. We have to be! I put together this great resource for those of you who want to get your hands on some high quality woodworking plans without having to pay someone for it. Yes, they exist individually and en masse!
I’ve done my own research, as usual. To be honest, I originally wanted to include an affiliate link on this page to a compilation of woodworking plans you can purchase (beside the Amazon links to woodworking books I reviewed at the beginning of this post).
In my research on woodworking plan packages, I learned a few things. First, there is fairly overwhelming evidence available that some of those sellers of “woodworking plans” are little more than “compilers” of already available information that can be found for free online.
(Not to worry, I’m here to help you find the goods) 🙂
To be clear, I have mixed feelings about people who want to sell compilations of otherwise free material. On one hand, if someone goes through the trouble of locating and compiling a large number of files, takes the time to make them available all in one place, then that’s a service that arguably should be compensated. They are offering a time-saving service. I’m okay with that.
The problem though, is that many of the woodworking plans being sold are copyrighted works, which are being given away for free by the true copyright holders in exchange for visits to their sites, and use of their resources. Taking them and selling them without permission is kind of, well, like stealing.
If you want to connect with a great community of woodworkers on Facebook, I highly recommend liking LumberJocks facebook page. Liking their page is free too. They aren’t paying me anything to say so.
The best way to become a genuine woodworking craftsman, like pretty much anything you want to master, is to learn a little and then do a little. Then just keep repeating. Keep going, and discover the joy of creating with your hands.
Yeah, it sounds sappy, unless you already know what I’m talking about.
Maybe I’ll share more free woodworking plan links in a later post..