The best books to inspire and improve your woodworking

Jeff Miller Author Of The Foundations of Better Woodworking: How to Use Your Body, Tools and Materials to Do Your Best Work
By Jeff Miller

The Books I Picked & Why

Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology

By R. Bruce Hoadly

Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology

Why this book?

This is a foundational text on wood as a material for building furniture, written by someone who knows the material thoroughly as both a wood scientist and as a woodworker. The combined insights give you the information you need to work with wood effectively. It reads well if you feel like plowing through it, but you can also use it as a resource for answering specific questions about wood and its behavior.


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The Anarchist's Tool Chest

By Christopher Schwarz

The Anarchist's Tool Chest

Why this book?

Chris has a very personal and very persuasive approach to woodworking. In this book, he uses the discussion of a tool chest and its contents to explain his take on the basic tools needed to work with wood by hand, as well as his philosophy of working wood this way. The book is funny, compelling, and an essential read for anyone interested in hand tools and working with them.


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The Why & How of Woodworking: A Simple Approach to Making Meaningful Work

By Michael Pekovich

The Why & How of Woodworking: A Simple Approach to Making Meaningful Work

Why this book?

This is a beautiful and thoughtful book. And much like others on this list, it offers up a personal take on woodworking. Mike feels that shop time should be devoted to engagement in the work, and offers up strategies for achieving that goal. He also offers beautiful projects, from simple to fairly advanced, that foster learning a slew of techniques for accurate work. The book also includes a discussion of design and its role for the woodworker.


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The Impractical Cabinetmaker: Krenov on Composing, Making, and Detailing

By James Krenov

The Impractical Cabinetmaker: Krenov on Composing, Making, and Detailing

Why this book?

This is one of those books that has inspired generations of woodworkers to aim higher in their work, and to think about broad aspects of both designing for and building with wood. Krenov’s construction methods (using dowels) are idiosyncratic, but his intense approach to woodworking has had a profound impact. It is well worth a read.


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Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: Three Step-By-Step Guidebooks to Essential Woodworking Techniques

By Tage Frid

Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking: Three Step-By-Step Guidebooks to Essential Woodworking Techniques

Why this book?

This is a 3 volume set (also available in a single-volume compilation), by one of the first widely-known teachers in America of woodworking skills, furniture building skills, and furniture design. Trained formally in Denmark, Frid came to the US, and taught at the School of the American Craftsman, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and then at the Rhode Island School of Design. He was a contributing editor for Fine Woodworking Magazine, and also taught classes around the country. Not only do these books teach traditional woodworking skills combining the use of hand tools and machines, but the mid-century modern designs are also now back in vogue.


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