Relatively new hand woodworker - books - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 10 Old 03-15-2017, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Question Relatively new hand woodworker - books

I'm thinking of buying a good general woodworking book (I'm a relative amateur). I'm trying to make a choice between Robert Wearing's "Essentials of Woodworking" and Paul Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2 - The Artisan Course". Tom Fidgen's "The Unplugged Workshop" is another possible option, as is Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker". I intend to work mostly with hand tools. I already have "Hand Tools", by Aldren Watson. Which one would you recommend?
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-15-2017, 10:19 PM
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I think the real question here is: "In what order should I buy these books?" You know you'll end up with them all, plus others.


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post #3 of 10 Old 03-16-2017, 10:18 AM
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Of the books you list, I have only Paul Sellers. It's good, well done, and informative. The others are on my list of future necessities.


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post #4 of 10 Old 03-16-2017, 10:40 AM
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All the books you have listed are very good and informative, but ONLY you can determine which will be beneficial to where you are and plan to go with your woodworking projects. Consider comparing each books subjects that are covered - to what detail? Do they match your needs? You could also put those books on your "wish list" for others to give you - say for birthdays, holidays, etc. Be safe.
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-16-2017, 03:51 PM
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I would personally go with Paul Sellers.

Measure 6 times, cut 3. Plane it down wrong and go buy a second board.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-16-2017, 05:56 PM
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The Bible ...

No matter what style of woodworking or what kind of tools you use this book is a must have. You need to understand wood, how it moves and why:
https://www.amazon.com/Understanding...+bruce+hoadley

Once you make your project, you'll need to know how to apply the finish. Another Bible for finishing wood:
https://www.amazon.com/Understanding...ners+finishing

When you think you know all about joining wood, this will blow you away:
https://www.amazon.com/Art-Japanese-...e+joinery+book
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-20-2017, 03:54 PM
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All are great books - I've written reviews on those books from Robert Wearings, Paul Sellers, Jim Tolpin, and currently working my way through Tom Fidgin's Unplugged Workshop (it may be a few weeks or more before completing his Card Catalog project). Those reviews are on my website WorkBenchInk.com.

Although all four deserve shelf space, I'd recommend starting with Seller's or Tolpin's book first. They are directed to first time hand tool workers.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-20-2017, 07:06 PM
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Not an expert on those listed but I have found a goldmine at used book stores. We have a McKay Used Books in Chattanooga that warrants a stop every once in a while. I have found some great books on routing, table saw techniques, etc. for practically nothing. You can buy three or four books for the price of a new one. You just have to stop in periodically. Good luck on our search!

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post #9 of 10 Old 03-20-2017, 08:23 PM
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Get Bruce Hoadley's book first. Another excellent book is "The Wood Doctor's" by Eugene Wengert. Is see many questions asked by "woodworkers" that would have saved them a lot of mistakes had they read these two books. No plans here, just great information.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-21-2017, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Tenthumbs View Post
I'm thinking of buying a good general woodworking book (I'm a relative amateur). I'm trying to make a choice between Robert Wearing's "Essentials of Woodworking" and Paul Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2 - The Artisan Course". Tom Fidgen's "The Unplugged Workshop" is another possible option, as is Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker". I intend to work mostly with hand tools. I already have "Hand Tools", by Aldren Watson. Which one would you recommend?
If you're only buying one, get either Tolpin's "New Traditional Woodworker" or Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2. The best way to decide which is to read a bit and see how you like their style (and then buy both). Personally, I lean slightly towards Paul Sellers' book, but either one is a good way to get started.

Here are my thoughts on comparison of the two:

1) Tolpin has a lot of general information, but I felt like he fell down a little on specifics of what to buy. Sellers was pretty clear: "go buy this tool, it will do the job." Depending on how you feel about his choices, that can be good or bad.

2) Tolpin has a lot more projects, but they're all shop oriented. If you follow along, you'll wind up with some good shop tools and appliances, but not much else. Sellers doesn't do much at all in the way of shop tools, but does walk you through building a stool, a dovetailed box, and a hanging shelf unit. Which you prefer is up to you: I don't think either one is objectively "better".

3) Tolpin's book is very readable. It's fairly conversational, and I think he tried (and succeeded) in managing a "we're all learning this together" style, which I liked. Paul Sellers is... somewhat didactic. Unlike many of today's woodworking writers, he was a professional woodworker for something like 40 years before he started writing and teaching. I personally like his writing style, and I find that his methods work well for me, but it may not work for you. That's fine... if you hate his writing, go read someone else. There's plenty more out there.

Honestly, neither one is a bad choice. I think if I HAD to recommend one book, and give a reason for it, it would be Paul Sellers' "Working Wood 1 & 2". The piece that, for me, pushes the balance in his favor is that a lot of what he talks about he has also shown on YouTube. So if you're having trouble working out how he sharpens a chisel, you can just go look at his YouTube stream and find the video.

If I were recommending three books, they'd probably be those two, plus "The Anarchist's Tool Chest", by Christopher Schwartz. His sense of humor is questionable, and he gets a little too definite on his ways of doing things, but the information on how to pick tools is stellar.
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