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Essential Hand Tool Books

 

While it might seem obvious to those who already use them, hand tools are often faster and more accurate than power tools. Hand tools let you take shortcuts (no jigs or test cuts) that give you an edge – particularly for one-off projects. There is no “sanding stage” where you drop everything and spend a day refining all your surfaces. With hand tools, if you’ve done things in the correct order, you’re almost ready to finish as soon as you assemble. And that is very cool.

While the first few hand skills can take some time and practice to acquire, once you learn to sharpen, flatten a board and saw to a line, new skills start to quickly build on one another other. You’ll soon realize that nothing is outside your ability – the next skill is just one little step away.

Lost Art Press was founded in 2007 to publish books that teach you these foundation hand tool skills. All our books are printed and published in the United States, with acid-free paper and sewn bindings. Below are a few of our favorite (and most popular) books to help you get started in hand tool woodworking.


Though ostensibly a how-to book on making a tool chest (and it is that), this book also discusses the “why we build” behind the how – and it explores the 50 or so hand tools you need (and a few useful machines) to make just about any piece of furniture. Not only will you learn which tools you need, you’ll learn to evaluate and choose decent ones – whether you buy new or pick them up at flea markets. And, you’ll use them to build a traditional English chest to house your tools.

 The author is one of the founders of Lost Art Press, a contributor to Fine Woodworking , and a former editor of Popular Woodworking magazine.


With the help of this book, by acclaimed English woodworking instructor Robert Wearing, you’ll learn just about every basic operation (as well as some advanced ones) needed in the hand-tool shop. The book is filled with more than 500 hand-drawn illustrations that are properly drafted, drawn in perspective and masterfully clear. But most important is that Wearing stitches together the individual skills – layout, sawing, planing – with the joinery so that you understand the efficient ways to use hand tools to actually build furniture.

It’s one of the best books on hand-tool woodworking in the last 70 years – and the original publisher let it go out of print. We knew we had to bring it back.



You can’t do good work without sharp tools – so knowing how to sharpen is one of the bedrock skills of hand-tool woodworking. But most of what’s written goes into unnecessary detail about steel, sharpening angles, and “magic” sharpening machines and stones. You don’t need to know all that if what you really want to do is make create beautiful wooden surfaces and tight joints. “Sharpen This” is a short, no-nonsense guide to how to sharpen quickly and get back to work.


There is little doubt that Charles H. Hayward (1898-1998) was the most important workshop writer and editor of the 20th century. He was a trained cabinetmaker and extraordinary illustrator, not to mention an excellent designer, writer, editor and photographer. As editor of The Woodworker magazine from 1939 to 1967, Hayward oversaw the transformation of the craft from one that was almost entirely hand-tool based to a time where machines were common, inexpensive and had displaced the handplanes, chisels and backsaws of Hayward’s training and youth. Yet all of his works were out of print until we got involved.

In what ended up being a seven-year project, we culled, organized, scanned, edited and re-edited the hand tool articles from Hayward’s tenure into four massive volumes covering: Tools (Vol. 1), Techniques (Vol. 2), Joinery (Vol. 3) and The Shop & Furniture (Vol. 4). You’ll find more than 2,000 drawings and photos in the set to help you in just about every aspect of hand tool woodworking.

We consider these volumes the encyclopedia of hand work. Everything from basic skills (sawing, sharpening, planing) to incredibly advanced techniques (divided-light doors) are covered in detail in the 1400+pages in this collection.


Hand Tool Books and Videos from Lost Art Press

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Video

Sharpen This (the video)

Sharpening your tools is simple. And easy. So why do so many woodworkers struggle with it?

One huge reason is the enormous amount of misinformation, needless consumerism and piles of unnecessary (and expensive!) equipment.

The new video “Sharpen This” takes you back to what is important: Getting a good edge that will leave shimmering wooden surfaces with a minimum amount of fuss, sharpening grits or gear.

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