The best books for woodworkers to expand their horizons

Michael Dresdner Author Of The New Wood Finishing Book
By Michael Dresdner

Who am I?

Michael Dresdner is a nationally known finishing and woodworking expert and guitar maker/designer, author of five books and several videos on wood finishing and guitar making. He’s been a Contributing Editor to Fine Woodworking Magazine, American Woodworker Magazine, and Woodworker’s Journal, wrote the Just Finishing byline column for American Woodworker Magazine for over 7 years, and the Finishing Thoughts byline column for Woodworker’s Journal for almost 20 years. While a consultant to one of the country’s largest coatings conglomerates, he wrote answers to over 8,000 questions for the www.woodanswers.com website blog and edited the Woodworker’s Journal eZine, an award-winning online woodworking magazine with over a quarter of a million subscribers.


I wrote...

The New Wood Finishing Book

By Michael Dresdner,

Book cover of The New Wood Finishing Book

What is my book about?

The New Wood Finishing Book is a comprehensive textbook on everything you need to know about wood finishing. From choosing the right finish (and the right finishing tools), through sanding, sealing, application, coloring, repair and refinishing, and right on to final rub out, this is the complete course you need to become a better finisher. 

The books I picked & why

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Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar

By William Cumpiano, Jonathan D. Solomon,

Book cover of Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar

Why this book?

Making a guitar is something many woodworkers aspire to, but are often stymied by what seems to be the daunting nature of the work. Actually, it’s fairly simple; something the average woodworker can easily do. All you need is the right advice. This is the best comprehensive book on guitar making you can find. It will give you straightforward information, step by step, to help you successfully build your own guitar.


By Hound & Eye: A Plain & Easy Guide to Designing Furniture with No Further Trouble

By George Walker, Jim Tolpin, Andrea Love (illustrator)

Book cover of By Hound & Eye: A Plain & Easy Guide to Designing Furniture with No Further Trouble

Why this book?

Forget the tape measure. Leave the fractions, decimals, and mathematics behind. Long before the tape measure was a universal adornment on the woodworker’s belt, people designed furniture, houses, bridges, and cathedrals using nothing more than simple whole number ratios. This slender tome will show you how to do just that and will entertain you along the way. 


The Art of Fine Tools

By Sandor Nagyszalanczy,

Book cover of The Art of Fine Tools

Why this book?

When the day’s work is done, sit down with a mug of something pleasant and crack open this sumptuous coffee table book. Inside you will find incredibly beautiful photos of some of the finest, and most typical, hand tools ever made. From simple plumb bobs to complex rose engine lathes, from plain worker’s tools to some of the most intricately ornamented ones, take a journey through both time and craft to drool over some of the most amazing hand tools ever crafted. 


The Art of Marbling

By Stuart Spencer,

Book cover of The Art of Marbling

Why this book?

Now that you’ve mastered clear finishes and can make your prettiest wood projects glow with pride, it may be time to turn to a bit of whimsy. There are a wealth of “painted finishes” that completely change wood into something very different. They go from simple faux bois (fake wood grain) to complex recreations of quill, bamboo, and stone (malachite, lapis, etc.) This introduction to the art of making wood look like marble will give you both ideas and techniques for your finishing playtime. 


Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop

By Sandor Nagyszalanczy,

Book cover of Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop

Why this book?

Whether starting from scratch or expanding into new woodworking ventures, correctly setting up your shop can spell the difference between success and failure. Here’s where to come for information on electricity and lighting, tools, heating and ventilation, dust collection, benches, shop layout, and even safety. You’ll know what to buy, what to avoid, and what to do to make your workspace as efficient and comfortable as possible, no matter what flights of woodworking fancy you pursue. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in woodworking, guitar, and furniture making?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about woodworking, guitar, and furniture making.

Woodworking Explore 25 books about woodworking
Guitar Explore 24 books about guitar
Furniture Making Explore 11 books about furniture making

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to Traditional Design, Solid-Wood Cabinet Construction: 70 Contemporary Designs with Details, and The Practical Book of Period Furniture - Treating of Furniture of the English, American Colonial and Post-Colonial, and Principal, French Periods if you like this list.