Monday, April 2, 2012

Some Books I Really Like

I'd like to share a couple of woodworking books that I find valuable in my shop. I really enjoy old books on the craft, especially anything pre-1940 or so as hand work was still prevalent at the time. While these books deal mainly with architectural joinery their lessons are applicable to furnishings as well.

Modern Practical Joinery by George Ellis
I purchased this book while on vacation in the UK at a used bookseller and I'm so glad that I did. While I did discover later that this title is available as a softcover reprint I really enjoy owning the hard cover original. The original is also slightly larger which is helpful with the numerous figures. Covering everything from shop practice and tools to doors, sash, trim, casework, and more it is thoughtfully cross-referenced in the text to explanations of techniques used in a section that are referenced either earlier or later in the book. The numerous multi-page plates and technical drawings help the text come to life. While the language is a little more formal than what the modern reader might be used to it is easy enough to understand. This is probably my go to book for door and window work. A companion volume, Modern Practical Carpentry covers heavier aspects of woodworking such as structural framing, masonry support, etc.

Carpentry and Joinery Illustrated by Paul N. Hasluck
The copy of this book that I have is a nicely done reprint from BT&C Books, the publishing end of Tools for Working Wood. This book covers a combination of the topics that the Joinery and Carpentry volumes mentioned above cover. I think this title makes an excellent companion piece to Modern Practical Joinery, again with numerous drawings. Each book makes slightly different assumptions about what the reader knows about the craft so you can ferret out additional techniques and details from reading the complimentary chapters from both books.

I tend to do a good bit of architectural work so I love both of these volumes and intend to acquire Modern Practical Carpentry in the future as well. While there is a lot of content in both volumes that a modern woodworker will likely never use, anyone interested in old houses, restoration or re-creating original features for homes will find a great deal of amazing content.


  1. .

    I have just found your blog, working my way through it and very good it is, too.

    On the subject of books, allow me to recommend what I think is a unique little book about ‘Welsh Stick Chairs’, by John Brown.

    Not as basic a piece of furniture as they sound, but in reality a Welsh vernacular style of Windsor chair.

    I think that it is still available, though it was out of print for a long while. I won't tie you up with a description, but here’s my take on it….

    All best from wales


  2. Howard,

    Thanks for the feedback on the blog and I'm glad you're enjoying it. Thanks as well for the book recommendation. I've been more and more interested in chairs lately and the Welsh style caught my eye while we were traveling there last fall.