‘The Essential Woodworker’ by Robert Wearing is one of those classical books on woodworking. Robert Wearing was a gifted woodworker trained in England. He made use of both hand tools and power tools in his woodwork. The book comprises of more than 500 illustrations that were hand drawn. He makes an effort to explain each and every operation that is carried out in a hand tool shop. His illustrations are perfect and speak volume of his woodworking skills.
Robert Wearing has a simple idea behind the book. He says that there are a number of books around that covers advanced techniques and skills of woodworking, but there are only few that talks about the basics of woodworking. There are novices who want to take up woodworking, but they have no one to guide them. He wrote this book keeping such woodworking enthusiasts in mind. The book succeeds excellently in its purpose. If you follow the text carefully and go through the illustrations in the book, we are sure that you can learn a lot.
Every basic thing about woodworking is covered in the book, so a beginner need not refer anything else, if he has this book. He begins the book with a chapter on sharpening, tuning and explains the use of various essentials tools used in woodworking. He also dwells in detail about the basic skill one needs to have. In consequent chapters, he explains what skills and techniques are needed for table, drawers, box, carcase, etc. He actually starts with building tables and stools. That really makes sense, as for a beginner it is perhaps the most easy or less complicated thing to build. Once you have acquired the skills to build a table or a tool, the author then teaches you how to apply those skills in making a bench and so on. It is clear that the author has a knack for teaches and that shows in the way he has written the book.
The explanation is detailed that leaves no room for doubt. By the time you finish ‘The Essential Woodworker’, you will also learn how to design, build and fit drawers. I think it is better if you read one chapter, learn the skills explained there apply them in making something out of wood. And then move on to the next chapter to learn another new skill or technique. This way you will be able to make the most of the book.
Wearing also shares some great jigs and fixtures later in the appendix section. When you are done with the book, you will realize that it shares some awesome basic concepts that you won’t find covered in any woodworking magazines, books, workshops, etc., these days.
The language used in the book is simple and very easy to understand. This is not your typically book on hand tools or on woodworking for that matter. It is solid guide on the basic of woodworking with hand tools that you will want to have for reference for the rest of your woodworking career.