Best Woodworking Books

10 Best Woodworking Books (For Beginners & Pros!)

Woodworking has been around for centuries. And there have been many different techniques and methods of woodworking and carpentry that have been documented.

There are tons of great woodworking books out there, but I’ve condensed them down into the 10 best woodworking books for both beginners and professionals looking to take their projects to the next level. Let’s dig in!

1. The Complete Book of Woodworking

The Complete Book of Woodworking

Whether you’re a woodworking amateur or someone who’s been working with wood for years, you can benefit significantly from reading this comprehensive woodworking guide.

In this book—written by Tom Carpenter and Mark Johanson—40 woodworking projects are explained in detail. You’ll learn how to make a range of high-quality indoor and outdoor furnishings.

Each project includes a materials list along with step-by-step instructions. But the most helpful elements are the diagrams and pictures; they make the written instructions easy to understand and implement.

This book also provides worthwhile advice regarding how to run a woodworking shop, and numerous useful safety techniques are addressed as well.

And if you want to get familiar with a wider variety of woodworking tools, this is the book for you.

Additionally, this book explains how to make jigs and joints, and how to properly apply finishes is addressed as well.

Specifically, you can make the following (and many more furnishings) if you read this book:

  • Picture frames
  • Chairs
  • Mantel clocks
  • Sun loungers

Why This Book Is Great

If you want to learn more about woodworking fundamentals and time-tested techniques, this book is worth reading. Experienced woodworkers can benefit from reading this book because it explains phenomenons that woodworkers often experience, and it also presents invaluable bits of age-old woodworking philosophy.

This book is also great because you can have it by your side when you’re working on a project and watch as your project develops in line with the project discussed in the pages.

Judging by the large amount of photos included, it’s no exaggeration to say every stage of the production process is photographed for each project.

2. The Essential Woodworker

The Essential Woodworker

Another classic, “The Essential Woodworker” deals with the skills and techniques that are essential for all woodworkers. Robert Wearing uses the example of a dining table to intricately show all that’s needed to make this piece of furniture.

Specifically, he explains how essential tools are used, which sawing techniques are worthwhile, and how planing should be handled.

Wearing was a prominent woodworker throughout the latter half of the 20th century, and reading this book you sense right away that he’s speaking as a master woodworker.

Along with giving direct instruction, Wearing explains how woodworkers of all stripes can develop the skills necessary to be successful at this art, and he even discusses non-woodworking techniques the aspiring expert can use to hone their skills.

And since this is an older book, it includes hand-drawn illustrations—500 to be exact!

Additionally, Wearing explains in detail how to operate all necessary hand tools.

Why This Book Is Great

This is book is great because it focuses on the skills one must develop in order to become an expert woodworker. Specifically, it addresses what one can do while woodworking and outside woodworking to improve their craft.

This book also underscores the importance of patience and repetition. No woodworker can succeed until they understand the value of both.

In short, this is another book that deals with the fundamentals, but it was written at a time when the woodworking world wasn’t oversaturated with useless content, so the material is relevant, useful, and time-tested.

If you want to get back to basics and improve your core woodworking skills, reading this book is recommended.

3. The Woodbook: The Complete Plates

The Woodbook The Complete Plates

The first volume of this book was published in 1888 by Romeyn Beck Hough, and the last one was published in 1913. There are 14 volumes in total, and each one contains real pieces of wood alongside detailed descriptions.

The woods are arranged in alphabetical order, and each wood has a radial, horizontal, and tangential cut so the reader can see and feel the wood in order to gain a deeper understanding of it.

These books also explain where different woods come from, and the physical characteristics of each wood are discussed at length so the reader knows exactly which woods have properties that make them ideal for woodworking.

Why This Book Is Great

Reading these volumes is beneficial because you can gain a deep understanding of a range of woods, many of which are essential in woodworking.

Also, if you’re somebody who likes to work with unique woods that not a lot of woodworkers handle, this is book will have a good mine of information for you.

And since it’s an older book that’s still revered today, you can be sure that there’s value in the pages, even for modern woodworkers who so often rely on power tools and other corner-cutting methods.

4. Bill Hylton’s Power-Tool Joinery

Bill Hylton's Power-Tool Joinery

This is a must-read if you want to learn the art that is making joinery. This book also discusses how jigs and fixtures can be used to assist in the cutting of joints.

Whether you’re a joint-cutting amateur or a joinery expert, you’ll find value in reading this book.

And you’ll only need a few basic power tools to create the joints discussed here. Specifically, this book discusses:

  • Edge joints
  • Splined joints
  • Sliding dovetail joints
  • Lap and half-lap joints
  • Rabbet joints
  • Miter joints
  • Mortise-and-tenon joints
  • Biscuit joints
  • Dado joints
  • Dovetail joints

Why This Book Is Great

Knowing the ins and outs of joinery methods is important if you’re a woodworker, even if you don’t plan on making joinery routinely. This book covers the ins and outs of this art, and it does so in a may that makes the material useful to woodworkers of all skill levels.

Whether you make joints the traditional way or use power tools, this joint book will help you with your joint making. There are plenty of in-depth descriptions alongside extremely helpful pictures, which is all you can really ask for when it comes to a joint-making guide.

Plus the author, Bill Hylton, has an easy-to-read writing style.

5. Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop

Good Clean Fun Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop

If you want a comical yet informative book that gives insight into what it’s like to spend decades in a workshop, read this book by Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman.

In this book, Offerman covers a range of popular woodworking projects while discussing his own woodworking journey, and even experts have said this book can help a woodworker rediscover the fun in woodworking.

This book is especially useful for young woodworkers who are just starting out, as it presents useful wood shop tips and tricks in a digestible, humorous way that’s perfect for younger audiences.

And on a technical level, Offerman shows he knows his stuff, so there’s a thing or two woodworking veterans can learn from reading this book.

Why This Book Is Great

This book’s value comes from its ability to convey important points regarding the fundamentals of woodworking in a informative yet humorous way.

Material like this makes learning the woodworking fundamentals possible for those who, despite their young age, want to start learning this rewarding craft.

A well-know publisher with plenty of resources put this out, so the text is organized well and there are plenty of helpful, highly detailed pictures.

6. The Complete Manual Of Woodworking: A Detailed Guide To Design, Techniques, And Tools

The Complete Manual Of Woodworking A Detailed Guide To Design, Techniques, And Tools

“The Complete Manual of Woodworking: A Detailed Guide to Design, Techniques, and Tools” is another comprehensive woodworking guide. If you want to know the woodworking fundamentals and much more, read this.

This book covers the ins and outs of working with both hardwoods in softwoods, and these sections are particularly useful to the novice woodworker.

There’s also a discussion on how to properly use hand and power tools, as well as information on jointing, bonding, laminating, fastening, and much more.

Why This Book Is Great

This book is full of helpful descriptions, infographics and high-quality pictures. Plus the writing is straightforward and easy to understand.

In short, this is definitely a good book to have on the shelf; it may come in handy when you’re working on something and you need basic information to complete it.

7. Working Wood 1 & 2: The Artisan Course With Paul Sellers

Working Wood 1 & 2 The Artisan Course With Paul Sellers

Paul Sellers, the author of this book, had over 40 years of experience when he put this woodworking classic together. He started his career in the 1960s, in England, and in this book he goes through all the important things one needs to know to become a successful woodworker.

He introduces methods and new woodworking techniques within these pages that for a time were not popular but are now used by many across the world.

There are over 800 color photos, plenty of illustrations, and many diagrams in this book, and Sellers describes things in a step-by-step manner that’s easy to read and comprehend.

He also goes over how to use a wide range of hand tools, and this information is especially helpful to young woodworkers who are just starting out.

Why This Book Is Great

Another detailed starter guide, this one is written by a famous woodworking master, so if you want to be sure there’s authority behind the words you’re reading, pick up this book.

8. Great Book Of Woodworking Tips

Great Book of Woodworking Tips

This book is a collection of useful woodworking tips and tricks. Specifically, you’ll find information on:

  • How to rout effectively
  • How to fit edge joints
  • How to sharpen blades and bits
  • How to work with 4×8 sheets
  • How to make drawer slides
  • How to plane to thickness
  • How to glue and clamp awkward miters
  • How to flatten warped wood

Reading this book will help you sharpen your woodworking skills overall, and it’ll also help you avoid the pitfalls that old woodworkers sometimes run into.

Why This Book Is Great

Because this is a collection of insights from different woodworkers, you can be sure you’re getting a variety of perspectives when you read this book.

You’ll also find that much of the information overlaps, confirming that there are time-tested principles that, if followed properly, can help you be a better woodworker.

9. Understanding Wood Finishing

Understanding Wood Finishing

As the title implies, this book covers the ins and outs of using wood finishing. This book isn’t all that old, yet it’s often referred to as the bible for wood finishing, which should speak to its quality.

It puts forward plenty of up-to-date information, over 300 useful photos, detailed instructions and explanations, and bedrock information that you should know if you like to apply finish to your wood projects.

Why This Book Is Great

What’s great about this book is it covers the subject o finishing in depth, whereas other woodworking books just give a chapter (if that) on the subject.

So if you’re going to be finishing wood frequently, this is a must-read for sure.

10. The Workbench Design Book

The Workbench Design Book

This book mainly focuses on how to set up a modern workbench that’ll allow you to execute a range of woodworking tasks.

It also covers some woodworking fundamentals, and it’s particularly useful for somebody who’s going to be working in a home wood shop.

Why This Book Is Great

If you like learning about processes and you want to have the best possible setup when you’re woodworking, read this book to know how to set up an effective workbench along with a first-rate wood shop.

Final Thoughts on the Best Woodworking Books

The good news is that there’s no shortage of reading material to become a better woodworker!

And if you read both modern and decades-old material, you’ll see that the fundamental woodworking principles haven’t changed, and age-old techniques are still totally useful today.

So if you want to improve your woodworking in a variety of ways, read the books above when you’ve got some free time away from the shop.