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Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter Hardcover – 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Abram, star of TV's New Yankee Workshop and This Old House, is renowned for having more power tools than a well-stocked home center. Regular viewers will therefore be surprised to see that here he deals mainly with hand tools. Abram covers items such as levels, chalk lines, and plumb-bobs, detailing his experiences with them and his preferences. Unlike power tools, these tools aren't exciting, but they're the meat-and-potatoes tools that must be mastered to do good carpentry. This type of information is passed down from generation to generation, and it is in this spirit that Abram dedicates his book to his late father, also a carpenter. Even experienced woodworkers will pick up a tip or two from this book. Given Abram's name recognition, his book will appeal both to woodworkers and to TV viewers. Recommended for all public libraries.
-?Jonathan Hershey, Akron-Summit Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

In this one-of-a-kind treasury of carpentry wisdom, Norm Abram celebrates the tradition of his craft - and hands down the secrets he has learned in more than thirty years as a master carpenter. Norm distills a lifetime of experience into seventy short, simple lessons. From what kind of pencil to use (a thick-leaded carpenter's pencil is best for framing) to drilling an exploratory hole without damaging plumbing or wiring (use a short length of coat-hanger wire rather than a drill bit), here is an indispensable compendium of brass-tacks advice and tried-and-true tricks of the trade. Illustrated with handsome engravings and drawings of hand tools, Measure Twice, Cut Once is the essential guide for anyone who has ever put hammer to nail.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316004944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316004947
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Baker on June 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was wary of this little book at first. Little inspirational volumes are popping up everywhere, and are usually less than inspiring, and far less than useful (there is a plague of these in recent fishing literature).
Norm Abram's book is different. This is inspiration, yankee carpenter style. Abram discusses hand tools in a fair amount of detail, with some notes on proper use, level of efficiency, and personal preferences. A small smattering of stories about his father and his childhood experience doesn't detract from the practicality of all this; instead, Abram manages to show the roots of his profound knowledge, presumably leading us down the path of agreeing with his choices in an area where agreement can be difficult to reach.
I am a novice carpenter at best. In fact, that's probably overly generous, but I can say with some confidence that any beginner will benefit from Abram's take on the evolution and utility of hand tools. But I'd also go so far as to say that even more experienced carpenters would enjoy this book. It's a rare opportunity to learn, from a master, some of the details about everyday tools that even experienced users might not be aware of.
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Format: Hardcover
When my wife first bought it for me I did not know what to think of it. But once I started reading it I could not put it down. And I kept going back to it. Norm offers a great insight into tools I have used and never really thought much about. One can tell immediately for example when he talks about framing squares (why a quality one is hard to find)that he has the experience you should listen to and heed. Having lost my father a year before his dad passed away, I found a lot in common with his feelings. I did take notes and reread it 8 times. Norm impressed me with how much he really knows about tools. And his experience in using them day after day, year after year taught me how much I have to go inorder to be called a Master Carpenter.
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Format: Hardcover
This book not only gives a novice tips on what tools to own and why, but also provides insight into how a craftsman chooses his tools, the importance of choosing quality tools, and how those tools help make the craftsmen what he is. Norm is a craftsman who appreciates good tools, and the tools discussed in this book are among the most basic tools any carpenter should own. This book will help explain why.
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Format: Hardcover
While it wasn't the technical treatise I had expected (and hoped for), it still was an enjoyable book to read. I spent the better part of a rainy Saturday absorbing the information it presented. The book is written in a manner that echoes Norm's own admitted style of learning: less lecture and more watching and listening. It presented useful tips and "secrets" in an easy to read and enjoy format. This book was written as a memorial to Norm's father, from whom his lifelong love of carpentry has come. It is a fitting tribute to the skills of both men, and I would recommend it for all but the strictest purists.
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Format: Hardcover
Norm Abram is the much admired and even beloved host of the PBS show New Yankee Workshop and a longtime fixture on This Old House. In Measure Twice, Cut Once, we get a peek inside Norm's extensive toolbox, as Norm simply talks tools -- his likes, his dislikes, and, of course, more than a few helpful tips.

Norm has a reputation for loving power tools but in Measure Twice, Cut Once he focuses on his favorite hand tools. His knowledge is impressive as he covers a wide spectrum of hand tools -- folding rules, tape measures, chalk boxes, squares, levels, plumb bobs, saws, planes, knives, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, hammers, crowbars and chisels. Norm's favorite tool is the right tool, be it a power tool or a hand tool -- whatever is best for the job at hand.

I read somewhere that Norm wrote most of this book by dictating it into a recorder as he drove to and from various job sites. It shows -- the book is loose and conversational and Norm even gets a little personal. He talks a great deal about his father, who died shortly after this book was finished. The connection between Norm and his father through carpentry is heartfelt and it's nice to see this personal side of Norm.

Norm knows that carpenters are taught some skills and that they learn other skills through personal experience, but he believes that all of it should be passed on to others, just as he learned from his father. The craft and skill of carpentry naturally passes from one generation to the next and so on. That's what Norm tries to do through his TV shows and through books like Measure Twice, Cut Once. He isn't trying to impress you or overwhelm you. He just wants you to put this knowledge to work.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I originally bought this book just because Norm Abrams wrote it and I am a big fan of THIS OLD HOUSE and THE NEW YANKEE WORKSHOP.But, it is an engaging read and one I find myself going..."ahhhhhhhhhh" or "ahhhhhhhh, hahhhhhhhhhh!" to. Add it to your "toolbox." It will help you be better at whatever you do.

Makes a great gift too to recognize members of your workgroup, fellow fans of Norm, and those you would like to gently influence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Norm's writing style is easy to read and a bit... zen like. He breaks simple ideas about common tools and procedures down to fundamental levels one rarely contemplates. I'm not sure there's a lot here for experienced woodworkers and carpenters, but it's a quick and enjoyable read where any of us will be amused and sometimes smile with appreciative understanding. There's a fair smattering of history, humor, fatherly advice and practical knowledge throughout. I can't decide whether to pass this one along to someone just starting out or keep it. I think it would make a great gift to any woodworker at any level.
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