The Best Woodworking Books for 2021

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Woodworking books are one of the few types of books that I make sure to still buy physical copies of in this day and age. I have a decent collection on topics ranging from general woodworking to segmented woodturning to building intricate boxes.

If I need to take an evening and relax I love pulling a book I haven’t look at in a while off the shelf and browsing through it. Its amazing how much inspiration I can gain from browsing through projects in a book versus in the information overload we get from social media these days.

How to woodworking books are another one of my favorites as they seem to always plant a seed in my head of how I can improve my workflow on various woodworking projects.

If you’re looking for some woodworking inspiration or just want a few beginner woodworking books to get you started then here are my favorites for the new year.

The Best General How To Woodworking Books

These books will guide you through projects with step by step instructions. If you’re a beginner woodworker then these are great guides to be able to reference as you take on your first projects in the shop.

The Complete Manual of Woodworking: A Detailed Guide to Design, Techniques, and Tools for the Beginner and Expert

This classic woodworking book sets a great foundation for the fundamental knowledge of woodworking. While some find this book to be a bit outdated, it is 30+ years old, for modern tools many of the topics it covers are timeless.

These include discussions on wood species, joinery techniques, hand tool usage, marking and measuring, and the basics of furniture design. If you are looking for discussions on using modern tools then there are better options but this book sets a great knowledge base for any new woodworker.

Practical Weekend Projects for Woodworkers: 35 Projects to Make for Every Room of Your Home

Practical Weekend Projects for Woodworkers is a great book for the weekend woodworker looking for projects they can complete in just a few days.

This book is filled with pictures, diagrams and step-by-step instructions which makes completing this projects a breeze. As someone with limited time to work on my own projects I appreciate their approach to making good looking, functional pieces in an efficient manner.

Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship

Woodworking basics is a great introduction to fundamental woodworking techniques in a modern wood shop. If you are a beginner looking to learn the fundamentals or a seasoned woodworker who wants to begin integrating more hand tools into your woodworking this is a great book.

The book walks through two small projects as a way to practice and develop the skills taught in the book.

Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture

The author of Hybrid Woodworking, Marc Spagnuolo, is best known for being one of the original online woodworking video producers. In my early woodworking days, I learned a ton from his videos about how to set up machines, cut mortises and tenons, and plenty more.

I still watch many of his project videos to this day and when I saw this book come out I knew it would be an valuable resource for the shop.

The book’s approach is to blend modern, machine-based woodworking with hand tools. He walks through when to use machines to take on the grunt work of a project and when to break out the hand tools to create those finish details that truly make a project shine.

My Favorite Woodworking Books for Fun and Inspiration

These books feature intricate and inspiring projects or tell stories from in and around the woodshop. Taking your mind off the details of woodworking and just enjoying the work and people involved in woodworking can be a key to opening your mind to finding new inspiration for your own woodworking journey.

The Why & How of Woodworking: A Simple Approach to Making Meaningful Work

Author of The Why & How of Woodworking, Mike Pekovich, is renowned for his elegant box and casework. This book takes you through his journey as a woodworker and teaches you ways to apply a simpler approach to woodworking to your own shop.

This book is not only helpful for learning new techniques but also serves as an inspirational guide to finding beauty in simplicity.

Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop

Author of Good Clean Fun, Nick Offerman, is best known for his comedic acting but has often said that his real love is woodworking. Good Clean Fun takes us inside the home of Offerman Woodshop. His LA-based woodworking business.

The book is full of projects, musings from Offerman himself, and stories from woodworkers who he has been influenced by and worked with over the years. This books is both a fun, casual read and a good source of inspiration for future projects.

52 Boxes in 52 Weeks: Improve Your Design Skills One Box At A Time

This book, written by Fine Woodworking’s Matt Kenney, is a beautiful approach to taking small, seemingly simple projects and turning them into something spectacular.

52 Boxes was born from a challenge in which Matt made a new box each week for an entire year. The book not only highlights those projects but also breaks down the skills needed to make your own beautiful boxes.

I love browsing through this book as a source of inspiration for future projects and am always picking up little details for how I can improve my woodworking going forward.

Heirloom Wood: A Modern Guide to Carving Spoons, Bowls, Boards, and other Homewares

Heirloom wood is a book focused on a back to the basics approach to carving and creating function items for the home. It is a beautifully photographed book and another that is a joy to page through when looking for inspiration.

The book also gets into more of the nitty-gritty of carving so if you’re looking to get into carving your own wooden spoons then this book is a great place to start.

Woodworking Books for Focusing on the Fundamentals

These books take a deep dive into some of the most basic fundamentals of woodworking. From managing your shop to maintaining tools to sharpening your blades there is a book for everything. These are great reference guides when you need to really dig into the details of a specific task.

Understanding Wood: A Craftsman’s Guide to Wood Technology

Understanding Wood was first published 40 years ago but has recently received a huge refresh. With new photographs and entirely updated sections to align with the changes in modern woodworking this book reads like it is brand new.

If you are looking for an almost academic level book on the properties of wood then this is it. Understanding Wood will teach you about the properties of wood, how they handle glue, how to account for seasonal movement, etc. After reading this book you’ll have a whole new understanding of how to work with wood and choose the best pieces and species for your next projects.

The Perfect Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers

Learning to properly sharpen my tools was long a blind spot in my woodworking knowledge. I neglected to use my chisels or planes as much as I would have liked because I never seemed to be able to get them as sharp as they needed to be.

Despite watching Youtube videos on sharpening it never really clicked until I finally picked up this book. The Perfect Age breaks down the process of sharpening each blade in your shop to such an exact science that it is almost impossible to get it wrong after reading.

Essential Joinery: The Fundamental Techniques Every Woodworker Should Know

Essential Joinery, another book by Marc Spagnuolo, takes the art of joinery to another level.

In this book Marc meticulously breaks down almost all the different joinery methods used in woodworking in an easy to understand manner. If you’re new to woodworking and are still trying to wrap your head around the basics of joinery then I highly recommend this book.

It will definitely give you the confidence going forward to create beautiful, handmade furniture.

Understanding Wood Finishing: How to Select and Apply the Right Finish

Wood finishing is definitely my other blind spot when it comes to woodworking knowledge. The sheer number of finishes available, application methods, and possibilities for bad results have left me, at times, just reaching for what I know even when it may not be the best finish for a particular job.

Luckily, this book has started to guide me towards exploring new finishes with its detailed and well photographed walk throughs. The book also offers a number of troubleshooting guides to help you work through any issues you may run into during finishing. These have been a huge help for me in getting past addressing issues in my finishes.

How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions: 28 Projects to Make Your Workshop More Efficient

Creating an efficient, well laid out shop space can make your time in the shop many times more productive and enjoyable.

This book serves as a great guide for building your own workbenches and shop storage solutions to make the most of the space you have available.

A few of my Favorite Woodturning Books

Woodturning sometimes seems to exist in a world completely separate from the rest of woodworking. With its own jargon, tools, and tasks it can be a daunting world to enter for a beginner. Luckily, there are a few great books to get you started down the woodturning path from some of the masters of the art.

Learn to Turn: A Beginner’s Guide to Woodturning Techniques and 12 Projects

Learn to Turn is an valuable guide to the basics for those who are new to woodturning and want to get a handle on the fundamentals. So much of woodturning can feel absolutely foreign to even seasoned woodworkers so this books serves as an excellent guide to get started.

This book covers all the basics from selecting your first lathe and tools to sharpening, sanding, and finishing.

Woodturning Projects: A Workshop Guide to Shapes

This woodturning project book is a beautifully photographed guide to the shapes possible with woodturning. It serves as a wonderful source of inspiration to think outside the box and explore new shapes and designs.

The book contains 50 projects which you can follow along with or let serve as a jumping off point while you take them in a new direction.

Fixtures and Chucks for Woodturning: Everything You Need to Know to Secure Wood on Your Lathe

Mounting a piece of wood to the lathe can often be one of the most difficult parts of woodturning. Especially once you get into turning large or more complex shapes where traditional chucks may no longer work.

This book gets into almost every mounting option available on the lathe which will give you confidence in your turning going forward. Fixtures and Chucks for Woodturning is truly a must have for any level of woodturner from the beginner to expert.

The Art of Segmented Wood Turning: A Step-By-Step Guide

Author Malcolm Tibbetts is one of the most accomplished segmented woodturners in the world. I urge you to take a look at his work and Youtube channel if you haven’t before as he takes woodturning to places I would have never thought possible.

The Art of Segmented Woodturning walks you through the basics of getting started with segmented woodturning and guides you through projects that may have seemed impossible at first. If you are interested in getting started with segmented woodturning then this books is a must buy.

Final Thoughts on the Best Woodworking Books

So much knowledge and content is consumed through online video these days that the thought of books is forgotten at times. I would implore you to look into picking up a few woodworking books that may interest you. The level of detail and the ability to really sit down and absorb and apply the information contained within these books can truly take your woodworking to a new level.

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