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Woodworking FAQ: The Workshop Companion: Build Your Skills and Know-How for Making Great Projects
on May 19, 2012
The first woodworking book I owned was John Feirer's "Cabinetmaking and Millwork," which I purchased in 1970 or so. I had no idea how to do woodworking other than a basic shop class in high school in the early 1960's. But the book taught me a great deal, and I built many projects based on this volume. The book was designed for professional woodworkers or students going to that profession. At the time, I was neither.
Spike Carlsen's latest book on woodworking is for the rest of us (his first two are as well). These are the folks who spend their weekends, spare time or retirement doing a craft that is both rewarding and can be complex at the same time. Mr. Carlsen has nailed this down well, even for the professionals out there.
First comes the content that covers setting up a shop, choosing wood, hand tools, portable power tools, stationary tools, glue and fasteners and joints. Then he goes on to teach us about furniture making, casework, windows and doors, plus other projects. There are extensive well-done illustrations throughout.
The content is arranged like a Frequently Asked Question series of topics with good basic questions complete with thorough answers to each. Some are more basic than a really experienced woodworker would want, but there is a terrific index of all topics plus an exceptionally well-done resources section by books and magazines as well as for each chapter. So you can find almost anything you may need.
The second best thing (actually tied for first) is the layout and design. It was designed for a shop. It is small enough to lie on top of your table saw or bench and sit wide open with a spiral binding. So many other woodworking books I own are hard or soft bound such that if you want to refer back to the content, you are always having to mark the page somehow, close it and then when you need a detail or two, find where you were.
The only change I would suggest is to put the sanding and finishing chapter after the joints and special techniques one, but that is a minor issue and perhaps that was even an editor's choice.
No, this book was built for woodworkers, not readers of woodworking books. Cynthia McFarland, the book designer, needs to get a metal for understanding what woodworkers in their shops really need in terms of woodworking books. If every woodworking book did this design, I'd own more.
While beginning woodworkers absolutely must have this book, experienced folks need it as well, as it is a thoroughly well researched, complete and useful resource for all woodworkers. Barry Humphus