I have some experience with making basic furniture (beds, desks, shelving) and installing trim and fittings (hanging doors, replacing kitchens) and I am interested in learning how to get a better finish and make more sophisticated pieces.

What are the best books (or other resources) to learn about the subject, tools, techniques, etc? I'm not necessarily looking for the one best book that covers everything (although that would be nice!). But a selection of good quality ones.

Please only put one book per answer so they can be voted individually.

  • 1
    This is relevant to my interests...
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 14:34
  • It's relevant, but "what are the best..." shopping list questions are often ruled out-of-bounds on SE except in areas that have specifically authorized them..
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 0:43

5 Answers 5


I'll post this here although I haven't actually read it, I currently have it on order as I plan on doing some built in bookshelves for my media equipment. A friend I know who makes his own furniture suggested it: Illustrated Cabinetmaking

  • +1: Looks like a good resource. I might pick this up. Any idea if it has a "must have" tools list?
    – Doresoom
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 18:59

I'm a cheapskate, so I usually troll around the bargain section at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

I've found a bunch of really decent books that way, and they're usually around $5 USD.

  • On a similar strategy : library book sales. (well, in my case, I process the donations for our library book sales, so I get to pick out the interesting stuff before everyone else; if nothing else, make friends with the people running the book sales ... I have a pick list so I pull certain authors out for some of the other library volunteers)
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 23:21

Taunton produce a range of books with companion videos. The latter being especially useful because you get to see how it's done, rather than just having it described.


Choosing and Using Hand Tools

Seems to be a useful overview of the purpose and use of the basic hand tools involved in wood working. It has improved the way I use some of my tools straight away.


I found this book useful for descriptions of designs for domestic joinery. It also covers regulations where appropriate and has some hints for working practices that I found useful too.

Manual of First and Second Fixing Carpentry


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