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The Care and Use of Japanese Woodworking Tools: Saws, Planes, Chisels, Marking Gauges, Stones Paperback – September 1, 2006
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Mesirow and Herman's book is a very straightforward and practical presentation of the tools of the Japanese carpenters trade. Straightforward, is a relative term. The authors freely admit that "Japanese saws, chisels, planes, knives, axes, and adzes are complicated beyond belief, difficult to use, and hard to maintain." But following that off-putting statement they do their best to bridge the knowledge and experience gap with sections on saws, planes, chisels, marking gauges, and stones, heavily illustrated with pen and ink drawings.
Planes get the most attention, but every subject is presented with enough information to separate the dilettantes from the committed. To a modern Westerner like me, used to exotic machinery that costs only slightly less than the best Japanese traditional tools the idea of tools that take years to learn to use is both awe inspiring and frightening. Yet these very tools are capable of end products that are an order of magnitude finer than precision machinery can deliver.
One can wish that 'The Care and Use of Japanese Woodworking Tools' was a bit more expansive on the qualities and ranges of the various tools. More photographs would have been nice as well as some anecdotes and examples. But as a 'simple,' inexpensive first tour the book does exactly what it is supposed to do, teach and guide. By all means take a look at it.