32 books like Understanding Wood

By R. Bruce Hoadly,

Here are 32 books that Understanding Wood fans have personally recommended if you like Understanding Wood. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Anarchist's Tool Chest

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

From my list on improving your woodworking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeff Miller is one of the country’s leading furniture designer/craftsmen. He is also a dedicated teacher and a prolific writer, with over 40 articles and 4 books (with a fifth in preparation). Jeff has exhibited furniture in shows from coast to coast, and has a piece in the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum. Jeff’s work is heavily influenced by his former career as a professional musician, and he strives to make each of his pieces feel musical in some way. Jeff is a runner and – despite the hindrance of living in the flat mid-west – an avid skier. A substantial chunk of his time is taken up by dialysis treatments, but he tries not to let that slow him down too much.

Jeff's book list on improving your woodworking

Jeff Miller Why did Jeff love 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.

By Christopher Schwarz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anarchist's Tool Chest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When I am too exhausted, ill or busy to work in my shop, I will shuffle down the stairs to my 15' x 25' workshop and simply stand there for a few minutes with my hands on my tools. To be sure, I thought I was a touch nuts because of this personality quirk. But after reading the oral histories and diaries of craftsmen from the last 300 years, I found it's actually a common trait among artisans. I am drawn, married or perhaps addicted to the things that allow me to coax wood into new shapes. At the same…


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

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

From my list on improving your woodworking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeff Miller is one of the country’s leading furniture designer/craftsmen. He is also a dedicated teacher and a prolific writer, with over 40 articles and 4 books (with a fifth in preparation). Jeff has exhibited furniture in shows from coast to coast, and has a piece in the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum. Jeff’s work is heavily influenced by his former career as a professional musician, and he strives to make each of his pieces feel musical in some way. Jeff is a runner and – despite the hindrance of living in the flat mid-west – an avid skier. A substantial chunk of his time is taken up by dialysis treatments, but he tries not to let that slow him down too much.

Jeff's book list on improving your woodworking

Jeff Miller Why did Jeff love 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.

By Michael Pekovich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Why & How of Woodworking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Why and How of Woodworking reflects the growing appreciation for the handmade, a movement toward simplifying and uncluttering. There is a growing understanding of the need to fill our lives with meaningful and useful objects. How can woodworkers answer that call? Instagram sensation Mike Pekovich explains how to make work that is worth the time and effort it takes to make it, work that makes a difference, and work that will add to the quality of our lives. . Explains the basics of woodworking, from choosing lumber with care, cutting joinery accurately, and preparing and finishing the surfaces. .…


Book cover of The Impractical Cabinetmaker: Krenov on Composing, Making, and Detailing

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

From my list on improving your woodworking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeff Miller is one of the country’s leading furniture designer/craftsmen. He is also a dedicated teacher and a prolific writer, with over 40 articles and 4 books (with a fifth in preparation). Jeff has exhibited furniture in shows from coast to coast, and has a piece in the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum. Jeff’s work is heavily influenced by his former career as a professional musician, and he strives to make each of his pieces feel musical in some way. Jeff is a runner and – despite the hindrance of living in the flat mid-west – an avid skier. A substantial chunk of his time is taken up by dialysis treatments, but he tries not to let that slow him down too much.

Jeff's book list on improving your woodworking

Jeff Miller Why did Jeff love 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.

By James Krenov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Impractical Cabinetmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Krenov's delicate, lyrical cabinets have inspired a generation of wood craftsmen, as has his impassioned insistence that one do his very best work, no matter what. In this volume, first published in 1979, Krenov invites the reader into his workshop, where he shares his techniques and uncompromising approach to craftsmanship, along with thoughts about his work and its place in the world. Photo sequences show how Krenov composes a cabinet directly in the wood, without dimensioned drawings. He also discusses working with shop-sawn veneers, the technique of fitting curved doors, and the problems of accuracy and mistakes. The book…


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

Scott Wynn Author Of Woodworker's Guide to Handplanes: How to Choose, Set Up, and Master the Most Useful Planes for Today Workshop

From my list on kicking your woodworking up a notch.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been designing and building furniture professionally since before 1976. From the beginning I’ve had an avid interest in what might be called “appropriate technologies”— when to use a hand tool or power tool — that is, for a specific use, which one gives the best results for the least time and effort? If you read the journals of 18th Century woodworkers you’ll find they were unbelievably fast —using only hand tools. I believe that by the 1970s much of that knowledge and many of the tools themselves had been lost. I set out to rediscover them.

Scott's book list on kicking your woodworking up a notch

Scott Wynn Why did Scott love this book?

This is on many people’s lists—and for good reason: an essential book, it will give you a solid foundation on which to build your knowledge and skill set, most specially if you are just starting out, though there is much to learn here for even the more experienced woodworker. Frid’s training contains the practical knowledge of centuries of woodworking passed through an apprenticeship system as it began its transition into the 21st Century, adapting power tools, new materials, and ways of working that will give you the information that will let you build almost anything. He wrote 2 more books in the set, also valuable, but if you can only afford one, get this one.

By Tage Frid,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a tribute to Tage Frid who passed away in 2004, combined with the 30th anniversary of The Taunton Press, this three-volume slipcase set is the most complete, authoritative guide to woodworking for readers of all skill levels. The books in the slipcase include: ""Book 1: Joinery,"" ""Book 2: Shaping, Veneering, Finishing,"" and ""Book 3: Furnituremaking,"" The techniques illustrated in these books are demonstrated step by step, with clarity and organization that allows readers to understand and carry out virtually any woodworking project. This is a limited edition.


Book cover of The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization

Luke Heaton Author Of A Brief History of Mathematical Thought

From my list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist and inventor, who has always been drawn to grand, overarching narratives, and unifying ideas. I have degrees in Mathematics and Architecture, a PhD in Biophysics, and spent 11 years studying fungal networks at the University of Oxford. I am currently working with the award-winning architect Ben Allen, to commercialize a patent for making POMB (poly-organic mycelium blend): a light-transmitting, thermally insulating, carbon-negative building material.

Luke's book list on grand, unifying ideas for how the world works

Luke Heaton Why did Luke love this book?

It is easy to imagine that in the Stone Age, stone tools were the critical thing, that in the Bronze Age, bronze tools were the critical thing, and so on. The truth is that right up until very recent times, most of our technology was made from wood. Even before modern humans evolved, we were deeply shaped by the physical realities of wood, and the challenges and opportunities it provides. Large animals that live in trees need big brains and spatial awareness to avoid falling to their death, and the habitations of early humans were surely closely related to the nests made by non-human primates. Stone tools enabled improvements in wood handling and wood tools, bronze-enabled wooden wheels, and many of the long-term trends in human history make a lot more sense from a wood-centric perspective.

In short, this charming and unique history of humanity casts a familiar and often…

By Roland Ennos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “smart and surprising” (Booklist) “expansive history” (Publishers Weekly) detailing the role that wood and trees have played in our global ecosystem—including human evolution and the rise and fall of empires—in the bestselling tradition of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and Mark Kurlansky’s Salt.

As the dominant species on Earth, humans have made astonishing progress since our ancestors came down from the trees. But how did the descendants of small primates manage to walk upright, become top predators, and populate the world? How were humans able to develop civilizations and produce a globalized economy? Now, in The Age of Wood, Roland Ennos…


Book cover of Make A Chair From A Tree: An Introduction To Working Green Wood

Strother Purdy Author Of Doormaking: Materials, Techniques, and Projects for Building Your First Door

From my list on on working with your hands.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I worked on cars and motorcycles in my spare time while apprenticing in an architectural millwork shop, paneling the homes of the rich and famous. Thus I discovered the great joys and satisfactions of working with my hands. After a long stint in graduate school, then four years as an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine and for Taunton Press books, I opened a custom design furniture business in 2000. Travel, writing, and reading are aligned passions, and I’ve lived, taught English, and woodworking here and abroad in France, Slovakia, India, and Japan.

Strother's book list on on working with your hands

Strother Purdy Why did Strother love this book?

There are more comprehensive and detailed books on green woodworking, but none with Alexander’s unedited, liberating spirit, or his pioneering work. Lines such as “You need very few tools to go into the woods and bust a chair out of a tree” gave me a kind of permission to be bold, experiment, and just have fun (which is what he did, and is where the book comes from). You’ll learn how to make chairs (chairs!) with a small set of tools. You’ll likely put the book down before finishing it, and run into the woods to get started.

By John D. Alexander Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make A Chair From A Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a tree is felled, the wood is green and is easy to cut, split, shave and shape. As it dries, the wood shrinks and hardensQand it becomes vastly more difficult to work. In the old days, wood-workers relied on the ease with which green wood could be worked to make the parts they needed, and on the way wood shrinks to hold these parts together. These old ways have almost been lost, but are revived here for the modern woodworker. Make a Chair From a Tree is a lively and informative introduction to the old ways of splitting and…


Book cover of The Art of Japanese Joinery

Azby Brown Author Of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: Secrets of an Ancient Woodworking Craft

From my list on Japanese carpentry and construction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Azby Brown is a widely published author and authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environment, whose groundbreaking writings on traditional Japanese carpentry, compact housing, and traditional sustainable practices are recognized as having brought these fields to the awareness of Western designers and the general public. His creative work spans many media and has been widely exhibited internationally. In 2003 he founded the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo, focussing on cognitive and cultural issues surrounding the human hand and its use in the creative process, conducting collaborative research with neuroscientists and perceptual psychologists. A native of New Orleans, he has lived in Japan since 1985 and is currently on the sculpture faculty of Musashino Art University in Tokyo. 

Azby's book list on Japanese carpentry and construction

Azby Brown Why did Azby love this book?

This is the book that got me hooked on Japanese carpentry when I was in college in the late 1970s. There’s not much explanation, really, but the black-and-white photos convey the sheer beauty of Japanese joinery in an evocative and compelling way. The drawings resolve some of the mystery. 

By Kiyosi Seike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Japanese Joinery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This lively introduction to Japanese joinery not only delves lovingly into the unique history and development of Japanese carpentry, but also reveals many secrets of Japanese joinery. Presenting 48 joints, selected from among the several hundred known and used today, this visually exciting book will please anyone who has ever been moved by the sheer beauty of wood.

With the clear isometric projections complementing the 64 pages of stunning photographs, even the weekend carpenter can duplicate these bequests from the traditional Japanese carpenter, which can be applied to projects as large as the buildings for which most of them were…


Book cover of Heartwood

Ellen Dee Davidson Author Of Wind

From my list on middle-grade and young adult environmental fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up playing in nature: body surfing the waves in Southern California, backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, swimming in rivers. For the past thirty years, I’ve lived in the redwoods of Northern California. Spending so much time in the peace and beauty of nature has filled me with joy and deep respect for the incredibly interconnectedness of living ecosystems. I’ve also had a lifelong passion for reading, especially fairy tales, fables and fantasies. Combining nature and fantasy in my writing allows me to explore ideas and inspirations about how we can live in harmony on our one beautiful planet.

Ellen's book list on middle-grade and young adult environmental fantasy

Ellen Dee Davidson Why did Ellen love this book?

A fable about forest creatures coming together and putting differences aside to save their home from the Smashbasher. This book is an early chapter book for 7-9-year-olds and includes beautiful illustrations. The trees have names and are inhabited by various creatures. Heartwood will bring children closer to the magic of the forest and nature. 

I recommend this book because I live in the redwood forest and love trees myself. The book captures the essence of the magic we feel when we enter an unspoiled forest, and how important it is to protect these sacred and life-giving places. The fact that the only way for the forest creatures to save their home is to find their similarities and work together strikes me as particularly relevant today.

By Pollyanna Darling, Kirsty Chalmers (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heartwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Quarrelling erupted. The faeries bickered amongst themselves. The magpies and squirrels tossed spiteful comments at each other across the clearing. The mushrooms started to wilt in the nasty atmosphere created by the squabbling. And the Smashbasher crept closer, gobbling up the forest, chomping the old ones, crushing and crunching its way toward The Linney."

Will the forest creatures find a way to save their homes? Can they put their squabbles aside and come up with a plan to stop the Smashbasher? You can find out by sitting down somewhere comfortable and reading this book.

Heartwood is a full colour, illustrated…


Book cover of Be a Tree!

C.C. Harrington Author Of Wildoak

From my list on inspiring young readers to engage with the natural world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with reading as a child and have carried that sense of magic and possibility with me ever since. As an adult and a writer, I believe passionately in the power of story to foster empathy, understanding, and greater human connection – and I still turn to children’s literature whenever I need reminding of all that we are capable of becoming and doing as human beings. This list has a strong environmental bent to it – partly because Wildoak is a book about caring for the natural world, and partly because I believe that stories shape our sense of purpose. 

C.C.'s book list on inspiring young readers to engage with the natural world

C.C. Harrington Why did C.C. love this book?

This is a gorgeous picture book! It’s poetic and lyrical and bridges the distance between science and story. I especially love the center spread – it brought me right back to that feeling of climbing a strong, solid tree as a child, of being held by a tree. It’s the kind of book that I would want to share with little ones because it’s inspiring and hopeful. I’m a big fan of Dr. Jane Goodall and believe in her mission of inspiring hope when it comes to caring for the environment. 

By Maria Gianferrari, Felicita Sala (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Be a Tree! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A lyrical, gorgeously illustrated look at the majesty of trees-and what humans can learn from them

Stand tall.
Stretch your branches to the sun.
Be a tree!
We are all like trees: our spines, trunks; our skin, bark; our hearts giving us strength and support, like heartwood. We are fueled by air and sun.
And, like humans, trees are social. They "talk" to spread information; they share food and resources. They shelter and take care of one another. They are stronger together.
In this gorgeous and poetic celebration of one of nature's greatest creations, acclaimed author Maria Gianferrari and illustrator…


Book cover of Catch a Kiss

Linda Whalen Author Of Little Red Rolls Away

From my list on dealing with emotions and change.

Why am I passionate about this?

Often, people don’t understand the emotions of a child. The care and keeping of children have been my life focus as a mother of five, 4-H leader, Kindergarten aide, religious education teacher, and owner of Whalen’s Country Childcare. I hold dear the awe and wonder seen in the eyes of a child and hope to forever be inspired by the sight. Since my new book, Little Red Rolls Away was released, I have presented at schools, libraries, appeared in newspapers, magazines, and been featured on CBS Good Day Sacramento. Endorsements include filmmaker Joey Travolta, Founder and Creative Director, Inclusion Films, a company that aims to teach the art of filmmaking to people with developmental disabilities.

Linda's book list on dealing with emotions and change

Linda Whalen Why did Linda love this book?

It’s a special sadness children have when they lose something given to them by someone they love. Izze misses a kiss blown to her by her mother. No matter how hard she tries to catch it, she can’t. Her mother is wise and doesn’t just tell her it will be alright. Instead, she tells Izze a story and soon Izze is blowing kisses into the wind. The interaction is heartwarming.

By Deborah Diesen, Kris Aro McLeod (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catch a Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Izzie just loves when her mama blows her kisses to catch. Smooch kisses, zig-zag kisses, and even triple decker kisses! But even though she runs and leaps for it, Izzie misses a kiss! Her heart sinks as she watches it zip higher and higher into the sky. When Mama lets Izzie in on a sweet secret she realizes that her mama's love will always come to find her, no matter what! This silly and tender story is a universal one of a parent's love.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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