Thursday, 16 July 2015

Woodworking Book Review: Woodworker's Pocket Reference by Charlie Self


If you are ever looking for a crash course in woodworking terminology, and a quick reference for sizing, angles and tools then this little gem does exactly what its name suggests.

The Woodworker's Pocket Reference is ideal as a ‘swat up’ before you chat with your woodworking mates - especially if you’re a relative novice trying not to draw attention to yourself! It’s also the ideal companion for those moments in the workshop when all logic seems to desert you and you really need to get your head round an essential fact fast.  Best of all, if you know what you want from the store but can’t remember the terminology, this is your reference so you can talk to the guy at the counter with some authority.

That’s not to say this small book - now in its second edition - is just a way to cheat the system. Far from it. There are some really useful reference tables - from screw sizes to which adhesive to use - as well as more in-depth explanations of native and exotic woods, including which have potential allergy issues, and a useful reference of joint types.
So who would use this book? For the experienced woodworker it’s a timely reminder that we don’t know everything and a flick through will turn up the occasional “I didn’t know that!” moment. For the novice it’s a great place to start exploring terminology and techniques, and to kick off the never-ending shopping list your new obsession will inevitably generate.  There are more extensive books on timber, finishing, joints and tools, but that isn’t what this book is aimed at. It’s a workshop book for use in the workshop when you need answers in a hurry, and with that in mind it does very well indeed.


A word of caution to our European readers; lots of the information here is for a North American audience, so some terminology and sizing is different. That said, I still found it a useful source of information - especially if you are a fan of the various online international woodworking forums where an understanding of fractions of an inch and weight in pounds are often key factors in the debate.

Woodworker's Pocket Reference by Charlie Self is published by Fox Chapel Publishing
ISBN978-1-56523-811-4