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Old Ways of Working Wood: The Techniques and Tools of a Time Honored Craft Hardcover – February 5, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alex W. Bealer was an advertising executive in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was a collector of old tools, an expert on old crafts, and a skilled woodworker and blacksmith.  He is the author of The Art of Blacksmithing, Only the Names Remain, The Picture-Skin Story, and The Successful Craftsman.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Books; Revised ed. edition (February 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785807101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785807100
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are fascinated by old woodworking tools, this book is a must. A history and evolution of woodworking puts it all in perspective. The book is adequately illustrated (line drawings - no photos). The writer does a great job of explaining how to actually use some vintage tools - such as an adze, broadaxe, drawknife, etc. Surprisingly, some old technology has simply has not been improved upon, and this book will help the modern woodworker rediscover those forgotten secrets.
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If you could have only one book on primitive wood working tools and skill sets, this would be " that book ". It's a hard cover with good layman definitions and instructions on how and why the tools and skill sets were used and the evolution of both. This book also has easy to understand illustrations of every subject discussed. This was the first book that I bought on the subject. Every other book that I have purchased on primitive wood working has paled in comparison. A great book, one of my most cherished.
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By Beverly Hughes on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My Dad loved this book! It was a Christmas gift. He was sick at the time and is very interested in the way things were accomplished before the modern equipment that he uses. He loaned it to someone who would have never returned it, and I drove to the man's house to retrieve it. There are not many things that my Dad would sit and read other than his Bible and equipment manuals, but this was a perfect gift!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To fully appreciate the working of wood in 2016, it's important to understand not only "HOW" wood was worked in the past but, more importantly, "WHY" it was worked in specific ways and with specific techniques and tools. Wood is a living organism and as such has various "character traits" and unique "personalities" as well as shortcomings and "character flaws". As just one example, author discusses the skill, techniques and cautions required to fell a tree with an axe properly and safely, especially in proximity to other trees or structures. Or how large tree trunks were originally sawed lengthwise into planks. Our ancestors throughout the world addressed all of those issues and developed tools, methods and regional adaptations so as to obtain the most from their work and from the wood itself. This book won't help you saw a straighter line or cut a tighter dovetail as those both require skills developed over time through repetition. And there are no plans on how to build a bread box or chest of drawers. But, it will help you to understand more about wood, about its behaviors and about the proven techniques of working it that are still applicable today no matter if you're holding an old rip saw or a 20V cordless circular saw. Consider that the early settlers built rock-solid homes that are still standing, still inhabited, still rock-solid with massive beams, straight wooden plank floors, fancy wood trim and artistic wood appointments that were produced mainly from local trees and by local craftsmen. This is NOT a "how to" book. Rather, it is a look into the history involved in the working of wood and the tools that have been used over the centuries. Power tools are a great help but tremendous satisfaction can be experienced by using hand tools alone on a project.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The illustrations, which are drawn by Mr. Bealer, are not at the level of Eric Sloane, but there is a lot of information in the book for the tooliophile (is that a word?). It also seems that much of the information that Mr. Bealer presents in the book was gleaned by actually speaking to the old timers who practiced the crafts of old. Books like this do help to see to it that our history is not lost to technological progress and who knows, some of this information may be good to have in the future.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I consider this a companion to his landmark history book on blacksmithing. Have been making my own wood turning and carving tools for a little while and this book makes spoke shaves and other edged tools less mysterious to make and use. Paul Sellers U Tube videos are complemented by reading this book. Harry Rogers U tube videos on bodgering and green wood working are given depth and breadth by this book. A used copy should be in every hobby smith's and every prepper's reference library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book with a lot of information. If you are thinking about being off grid, this would be a book to keep in your library. I have enjoyed reading this and have been inspired to start a few projects. Some of the reading is a bit dry, but all the information put together will put you well on your way to working wood for any type of a project!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this as a Christmas gift for my daughter who loves working with wood. She has been increasing in the complexity of the projects she has taken on. This book has given her lots of useful little secrets to making quality products that last for generations.

Great book! Great gift for those that love woodworking, building. Would definitely recommend and buy again.
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