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Read your book, Paul, what now?


 Really enjoyed your Foundational Course book. Kind of deflated now that I have read through it twice and it sounds like it is not going to be until 2013 when you release the next book. So, just wondering if you could recommend some other books to those looking to increase their skills with hand tools as well as getting a better understanding of furniture design and proportion.



Interesting reads are hard to come by in woodworking without tripping over a shop full of dull machine work. I have read the following books in my earlier days and though they are well known, I think not as well read as they could be. The first one I like is by an old friend Aldren Watson. He and I have had many conversations about his work as an illustrator. I would never be without his book on my bookshelf and close to hand. I never tire of reading it:

Aldren Watson’s Hand Tools Their Ways and their Workings. This is a most excellent, simple and informative book.

On more philosophical levels:

The Nature and Art of Workmanship by David Pye (ISBN 1-871569-76-1) and

The Nature & Aesthetics of Design by David Pye(ISBN 0-906969-27-1) Also I enjoy Jim Krenov’s books:

A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook. Studio Vista. ISBN 0-289-70754-4.

The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking. Studio Vista. ISBN 0-289-70797-8.

The Impractical Cabinetmaker. Van Norstrand Reinhold. ISBN 0-442-24558-0.

James Krenov: Worker in Wood. Van Norstrand Reinhold. ISBN 0-442-26336-8.

Krenov; Janofsky (2000). With Wakened Hands. ISBN 1-892836-06-8.


I think that will keep you going for a while. I have some other thoughts too, but for now, we should look at these men’s work and ethic and see what we can glean from them.


  1. Eric Potter on 18 May 2012 at 3:31 am


    Are you familiar with Graham Blackburn’s woodworking books?  I’ve heard good things about them from other sources, and they look interesting to me, but they’re a bit pricey.  Just wondering how you would compare them to some of the books you’ve listed above.

    • Paul Sellers on 18 May 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Expensive for what you get.

  2. Felix Watkins on 6 January 2019 at 11:42 am

    To Mr Sellers,

    Hi there,

    I recently came across your website and blog which looks full of really useful information and advice on woodworking.

    I just wondered if you have any recommendations for a beginner and what I should be focusing on at this stage? I was planning to try out some local courses where I can learn some basics about woodworking and furniture making. There are obviously many resources such as books and the internet which I can use as well.

    The main issue I probably have is a lack of space. I live in a small bedsit in London so don’t know if I can realistically do much at home and buy items such as power tools. One furniture maker I asked suggested taking up marquetry but I haven’t looked in to this yet.

    At this stage I’m just looking to get in to woodworking as hobby and build a bit of confidence, even if it’s just doing some really simple projects. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    • Paul Sellers on 6 January 2019 at 5:49 pm

      Personally, I know that you’ve already found the best place. I have written hundreds of blog posts here that if you use the search button will take you to both very beginning intro material and then more complex things to enthuse and inspire you. You are right, power equipment is a ‘no-way’ place to go in a small bedsit and actually it should be a last resort for any new woodworkers anyway as it is not at all skill-based as it was designed for industrial speed to minimise the need for skilled handwork. Now hand tools can be used in confined spaces and some people I know do do that. Conscious of their neighbours comings and goings, they can get time in when cars disappear from neighbour’s driveways and return later.You need so few hand tools to get started too, that’s the big plus. You can also make a slightly smaller version of my workbench by following the making here. Above and beyond all of that, we have a site designed specifically for new woodworkers called Common woodworking and here is that ling too. It has lots of stuff about the tools we recommend, exercises to help you and then some beginner projects designed for hand tool woodworkers to develop the skills and confidence levels.
      Best wishes for your future goals. Using my methods of hand working and following the courses, anyone can be a skilled artisan. Oh, I should mention the free subscription to our woodworkingmasterclasses too. Its certainly one of the most expansive hand tool sites on the web and it was specifically designed for people like you too.

    • Paul Sellers on 6 January 2019 at 6:34 pm

      Here is a website you will find helpful for a scientific explanation.

  3. Jim Thornton on 12 January 2019 at 3:11 am

    I can’t help but wonder if the person that is asking this question is actually applying the info in your book or just wants to READ about woodworking. I betting that there’s enough information in it (your book) to keep a person busy for a long time.

    • Paul Sellers on 12 January 2019 at 4:22 pm

      In some ways i am glad the proliferation of books has slowed to a near stop compared to the 60s and 70s. I remember woodworking clubs, (so-called) actually book sellers, compiling lists of woodworking books by the hundreds but most of them regurgitated the same drivel about routers but when you knew what you were talking about there were about four minor differences between any of them. Still, those books are out there and can be had for a penny plus £2.65 shipping from anywhere in the world. Its surprising how many jigs and guides there are on cutting dovetails on a bandsaw or a tablesaw. How complicated simplicity becomes when the machines is presented to do what it was not designed to do. Specialist woodworking publishers are more and more on the decline since the internet provided its platform. Whereas paper copies do still have their place, the dominance of publishers is not the same and that’s a good thing in my view.

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