Saturday, December 23, 2017

Acknowledgements And References

I like to give credit where credit is due. These are the acknowledgements and references for the information in my book, Hand Tool Basics.

I'm a self-taught woodworker. That really means I had many teachers, the many live demonstrators and authors of books, videos, and magazine, online forum, mailing list, and website articles who have provided useful information.

Use the information I provide as a starting point. There's plenty more than what I cover; woodworking is a global activity with centuries of history, creating an infinite variety of techniques. I hope that I'll give you the skills and knowledge to be able to assess and incorporate any new information you find.

In general, the tools and methods I show in the book follow American and English woodworking styles. Continental European and Asian styles share many of the same techniques, but there are some differences in the tools. Where information is available, I strive to show historically accurate methods. In general it's safe to assume everything I show has at least 100 years of history. Some things have 2 or 3 hundred. Dovetails date back to the ancient Egyptians.

We are but the custodians of knowledge, passing it on to the next generation.


Below is the list of my teachers, in roughly chronological order. These are my primary references. They offer a range of perspectives that don't always agree with each other but still manage to get the job done, showing that it's worthwhile to look at the variety of techniques available.

If you'd like further information on any of the topics I cover in the book, I highly recommend seeking out their work, or even better, a chance to spend time with them in classes or demos. It's always good to have an opportunity to watch someone closeup and drink in the details. Just one new detail about an otherwise familiar technique can make it worthwhile.

My memberships in the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) and the Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers (GNHW), as well as the Lie-Nielsen Open Houses and Hand Tool Events, have given me a number of opportunities to meet and watch some of them.

Don Weber: Don's cover story in the April, 2004 issue of Popular Woodworking is what set me off down this path. He built a table from a log using nothing but hand tools. I was absolutely enthralled. It took me a few years of fumbling around to gain traction, until I started following…

Christopher Schwarz: As the editor of Popular Woodworking, it was Chris' articles on hand tools that put me on the road to success, in particular his articles on sharpening and planing. His books and videos form the core of my woodworking library. He went on to found Lost Art Press, where he continues to publish excellent books and videos on hand tool woodworking. He changed my woodworking forever, and gave me the knowledge to start appreciating other teachers, like…

Roy Underhill: When I first saw Roy's PBS show The Woodwright's Shop, long before I knew anything about hand tools, I thought this guy was bouncing off the walls like a superball shot from a cannon. But once I started learning, I realized every episode was crammed with a breathtaking amount of pure gold. His books and DVDs are another core component of my library. While I'll never be the showman he is and be able to do a half-hour video in one take, I've taken a number of cues from his show in my instructional format.

Philip C. Lowe: I've been following Phil's articles for as long as I have Chris Schwarz's. He's what I call a museum-class woodworker, because when museums need to restore or reproduce a finely detailed period furniture piece, he's at the top of the list. He ran the furniture-making program at Boston's North Bennet St. School for 5 years before starting his own Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, and is the winner of the SAPFM 2005 Cartouche Award. I got to know him when he gave a series of live demonstrations to SAPFM members on building several magnificent furniture pieces.

Michael Dunbar: Mike ran the Windsor Institute in New Hampshire, where he taught chairmaking. He's published a number of articles in Popular Woodworking. He takes a very no-nonsense attitude, as exemplified by his "Sensible Sharpening" method of sandpaper on flat substrate. His repeated frustration at having students show up to classes with basic tools they didn't know how to sharpen or use was what led me to start teaching. My goal was to provide that basic knowledge so people could get on with the more advanced topics of the specialized classes offered by others.

Charles H. Hayward: One of Chris Schwarz's heroes, Hayward was editor and "one-man publishing phenomenon" of The Woodworker from 1936 to 1966. He wrote a number of practical books that are simply spectacular. Anything you can find by him, don't hesitate, just get it! In fact, Chris has since anthologized several volumes of his writings from The Woodworker.

Robert Wearing: Wearing, another of Schwarz's heroes and an acquaintance of Hayward in Hayward's later years, wrote an excellent book that has been re-released by Lost Art Press. This was the source of the three classes of saw cuts terminology.

Bernard E. Jones: Jones wrote two encyclopedic books in the 1910's-20's which have been reprinted several times, one of which is now available from Popular Woodworking.

Garrett Hack: Garrett is a professional woodworker and author in Vermont. I've always loved his designs. He's a master of unique stylistic details done with hand tools.

Jim Kingshott: Kingshott was a British woodworker who put out several outstanding books and videos in the 1990's. He's like your favorite uncle. But of course, Bob's your uncle!

Adam Cherubini: Adam's "Arts And Mysteries" column in Popular Woodworking was a huge influence on my work. With his emphasis on 18th-century work, he showed me I could do everything by hand starting from the raw lumber, and taught me how to use wooden handplanes.

Patrick Leach: Patrick is one of the Internet's premier antique tool sellers, with everything from $20 user planes to $10,000 collector's items. He's partly responsible for the unusually large number of chisels you see on my tool wall; his house is dangerously close to mine. But he's also the definitive reference for information on antique Stanley tools. His website is encyclopedic, covering the entire line from the late 1800's through the first half of the 20th century.

Pete Taran: Like Patrick, Pete is another encyclopedic source of antique tool information, this time on saws at

Erik Von Sneidern: And like Pete, Erik is another antique saw specialist, focusing exclusively on Disston saws at his Disstonian Institute,

Aldren A. Watson: Watson was a professional woodworker, author, and illustrator in Vermont.

Lie-Nielsen Staff: YouTube videos from founder Thomas Lie-Nielsen and demonstrators like Deneb Pulchalski, along with live demonstrations at their Hand Tool Events, cover a great deal about how to use and maintain their tools. I think this educational component is an important part of the company's success, completing the connection with their customers.

Alan Breed: Al is another museum-class woodworker. He's the guy high-end auction houses call when they want a reproduction of an antique that's on the block for millions of dollars, so the sellers will have something to fill the empty spot. He runs the The Breed School in New Hampshire, and is the winner of the SAPFM 2012 Cartouche Award. For a number of years, he's been incredibly generous sharing his time and knowledge in a series of live demonstrations to the GNHW Period Furniture Group on building period pieces.

Paul Sellers: Paul is a British woodworker who put out an excellent book and DVD series. He used to run New Legacy School of Woodworking in Penrhyn Castle, North Wales, possibly one of the coolest school venues around. He's another very no-nonsense guy, attempting to demystify the craft and bring it to the masses without complicated methods.

Christian Becksvoort: Christian is a professional woodworker and magazine author in Maine who specializes in hand tool work.

Peter Galbert: Peter is a professional chair maker in Massachusetts. He's also an inventor, creating several very useful tools and versions of existing tools. He was the one who showed me how to get the most out of a wooden spokeshave, and watching his YouTube videos resulted in a huge improvement in my turning skills on the lathe.


Some of these may be difficult to find because they're out of print. But they may be available used or as reprints.

Books (including a few useful references from authors not listed above)
Bickford, Matthew Sheldon

Blackburn, Graham

Fine Woodworking

Hampton, C.W., and Clifford, E.

Hayward, Charles H.
Cabinet Making For Beginners, 1948 (several editions)
The Junior Woodworker, 1952 (don't let the title fool you, it's for any beginner!)

Hoadley, R. Bruce

Hock, Ron

Jones, Bernard E.
The Practical Woodworker, 1920? (reissued as a 4-volume set)

Kingshott, Jim

Krenov, James

Laughton, Ralph

Popular Woodworking

Rae, Andy

Schwarz, Christopher
The Joiner And Cabinet Maker, 2009 (with Joel Moskowitz, update of 1839 anonymous original)

Sellers, Paul
Working Wood, 2011 (also available as a set with 7 DVD's listed below)

Underhill, Roy

Watson, Aldren A.

Wearing, Robert

Whelan, John M.

Kingshott, Jim
Dovetails, 1996

Schwarz, Christopher

Sellers, Paul (available as a set with his book above)
Working Wood: Woodworking Essentials 1 and 2, 2011
Working Wood: Master Sharpening, 2011
Working Wood: Master European Workbenches, 2011
Working Wood: Master Housing Dadoes, 2011
Working Wood: Master Mortise & Tenons, 2011
Working Wood: Master Dovetails, 2011

Underhill, Roy
The Woodwright's Shop, Seasons 1-31 (and counting, starting in 1980)

Online Forums
These are an excellent way to join with like-minded people to learn and discuss hand tools, their use, and how to deal with problems. In fact, as my skills developed, it was seeing the questions posted on these from beginners struggling through the same learning curve I had climbed that motivated me to put together a video course and book.

Some forums are extremely active. Participation is global, with people coming from all different cultural backgrounds.

I found these to be a great asset in my learning. Just be prepared for a wide range of information, often conflicting! You'll have to learn to sort through it. That's where I came up with the concept for my "Fistfights And Fundamentals" segments.

These are moderated forums to ensure that everyone stays on their good behavior, but discussions can get heated and feelings can get hurt. Read their policies and spend some time lurking (Internet-speak for reading without responding) before you join in. Don't take things personally, and don't make things personal. Be polite. Remember that different people have different experience, training, and opinions.

There are others besides these, in English and many other languages, as well as Facebook groups such as Unplugged Woodworkers. (US) - Neanderthal Haven forum. (US) - Woodworking Hand Tools forum. (US) - Hand Tools forum. (UK) - Hand Tools forum. (UK) - Hand Tools forum. (Australia) - Hand Tools - Unpowered forum.

Thank You To The MBTA!

Finally, I'd like to thank the MBTA. Other than the shop work and photography, I did nearly all the work for this book and the original video series while riding the Commuter Rail. Yes, I wrote a book on the train! I did all the video editing, photo selection, and writing on my Mac laptop an hour each way to and from work in Boston.

Thank you to all the folks who took care of my commute and gave me a safe, warm place where I could focus on woodworking!