Marc Spagnuolo’s “Hybrid Woodworking”

When I heard about this book my first thought was, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” Hock Tools has benefited greatly by the renaissance of hand woodworking tools, skills, instruction and advocacy. Much of that thanks belongs to the efforts of Popular Woodworking magazine and books. That encouragement and the advent of the internet gave woodworkers access to arcane knowledge. Many of you picked up and carried the hand tool torch to a new era of hand woodworking.

Even so, many woodworkers continued to cling to a handtool-dismissing power tool catechism they learned in high school shop, eschewing the hand plane whilst pledging fealty to the jointer.

Marc Spagnuolo’s Hybrid Woodworking does a brilliant job of reconciling the power-tool/hand-tool divide. Marc has gained some fame in the woodworking community as “The Wood Whisperer” with his website of valuable content about all aspects of woodworking. Now he’s offering a peaceful settlement in the ongoing “conflict” between Normites and Neanderthals. Hands across the workbench. Or something like that.

In his very friendly, witty, conversational style Marc finally answers that burning question: When to Use Which to do What? I for one have never advocated that any woodworker go all hand-tools. I understand the efficiency of properly applied power. Roughing, dimensioning, making multiple blanks — power tools are the go-to answer. But for fine work, precision fitting and a surface finish that you simply cannot get with power tools, Marc helps you select the hand tools to balance the power tools and suggests when to use which. This book will make a great gift for anyone looking to expand his or her woodworking tool kit and experience.

Tom Fidgen’s “The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop”

A great gift idea for the woodworker who appreciates using handtools, especially one who steers clear of the din, dust and and danger of power tools, Tom Fidgen brings us The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop.


Tom’s previous book, Made by Hand, Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop, was Popular Woodworking Books‘ best selling title in 2010 and I predict thatĀ The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop will easily contend as another best seller. Tom has packed this book with useful how-to instructions that walk you all the way through a compelling variety of beautiful, useful things — from a sawyer’s bench to an architect’s table to a hand plane to a library card catalog — all using historic hand tools and age-old, tried and true techniques along with Tom’s latest tricks and tips. Treat yourself or someone you care about to the intimate pleasure of using hand tools with exquisite results. The journey is the destination and the journey need never end. Unplug!

Bob Lang’s “Building Blocks of SketchUp”

It’s that pesky gift-giving season again. Wouldn’t we look forward to it a lot more if it came around every four years? It’s an idea that may take some time to catch on…

Meanwhile, if you find yourself in need of a gift, I’d like to share three new books that have recently crossed my path. Any woodworker on your list can look forward to these books! I’ll present them in three consecutive posts. This is the first:

Building Blocks of SketchUp is a new book in enhanced PDF format. 260 pages with 50 embedded video lessons

While you may know Bob Lang as Popular Woodworking’s Executive Editor, Bob is also the woodworking community’s authority on using Google’s incredibly usefulĀ 3-D design software SketchUp. Among his many other excellent books on Arts and Crafts and Craftsman furniture he has written and taught extensively on SketchUp and how to take advantage of it for your woodworking projects. Extensively researched and written, this SketchUp book, as do all of them, takes full advantage of the pdf format with clickable links and embedded videos (50 of them!) that thoroughly illustrate each topic. Learning to use SketchUp can be daunting, but with clear, accessible writing, Bob takes you by the hand up the learning curve. Through well-presented step-by-step exercises he clearly illustrates the ins and outs of SketchUp, one of the great pieces of software available to 3-D designers. This is an amazing offering at $34.95 for download. And Bob has the disc version on sale for $39.95 with free shipping until December 1! Highly recommended!