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I'm always looking for good books on tools and techniques and I am interested to hear if you all have found any good reads.

I'll start by posting about one of my favorites on (now vintage) tools. The Great Tool Emporium

a pictorial extravaganza of the tools of yesterday and today, by David X. Manners. This is an older book published in 1979 by Popular Science. Nice light reading with a sprinkling of tool history. A good "coffee table book" with some decent pictures covering a very broad range of both hand and power tools.

For my techniques one of my recommendations is The Very Efficient Carpenter, by Larry Haun. I wish I had come across the book in my earlier days. While not really presenting anything groundbreaking, being a book for basic residential framing, the general attitude the author portrays is one that would serve any trade well, to take the time to think about the best progression of the job, from the way you stack your wood supply to laying out roof sheathing, the way you handle all the details could end up taking you a lot of time or saving you a lot of time. There is also a set of companion DVDs to go along with this book as well. I wish I would have had a mentor as clear and concise as this author, and I always recommend this book to anyone starting in the trades.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Handyman in Your Pocket is a small pocket size book that contains a wealth of information. From different types of anchors, rafter span tables, current capacities of wire, mixing ratios for concrete, drill sizes for taps, hose carrying capacity tables for both air and water to welding rod types. It is definitely one of the books I would want to have with me in a post apocalypse world, and a very handy book to have around for every day reference.

Pocket Ref is another book by one of the same authors which has a different data set, that goes into more electrical, computer, and chemical type information to those who are inclined that way. Both are great books.

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I still have this book lying around. It was put out by Popular Mechanics WAYYY back in the day. It was lying around when I was a kid and now I have it. A lot of this stuff would probably result in a lawsuit today.


An excellent book. It really sucks that the younger generation are not properly encouraged to make things these days

Popular Mechanics has a series of these that are available today.


There is a copy of The boy mechanic : book 2: 1000 things for boys to do available to peruse at Archive.org

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Speaking of vintage books a lot of them are being republished. I book that I enjoy reading and rereading again is the The Complete Home Handyman's Guide edited by Hubbard Cobb, This book is filled with a lot of Yankee ingenuity that is hard to find in this day and age. Kind of make me a little nervous though about some of the way they used to do them, Take this recipe for paint for example,

  • 100lbs of white lead
  • 4 gallons pure linseed oil
  • 2 gallons pure turpentine
  • 1 pint liquid drier

Makes approximately 9 gallons.

They recommend two coats.

With all that lead in the mix it is no wonder we have some of the laws we do these days, something I think about often when working on old houses, that and the amount of asbestos that I have run across.

This book has been recently republished, although there is nothing like an original copy to get the zeitgeist of the era.

Another vintage book that has bee republished with some additional commentary (and a DVD) is The Joiner and Cabinet Maker

An interesting tale of a young apprentice carpenters journey complete with the projects he undertook. I find this a fascinating look into how things were done, with the added bonus that the methods and projects can still be useful today.

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While fetching some links for the previous post I was reminded of another of Lost Art Press book, This time a book that embrace both old and new, The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, by Christopher Schwarz. The blurb from the publishers website describes it best

From http://www.lostartpr...st_p/bk-atc.htm

This book, “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” paints a world where woodworking tools are at the center of an ethical life filled with creating furniture that will last for generations. It makes the case that you can build almost anything with a kit of less than 50 high-quality tools, and it shows you how to select real working tools, regardless of their vintage or brand name.

A very interesting read for fans of either tools or woodworking.


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Yea it was more like a terrorist handbook than anything else. By the time I got a copy it had been heavily edited and many key details of most of the projects had been removed. It was always more of a novelty for me as I never had the desire to make drugs or bombs or tap my neighbors phone. It was interesting to read though.

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I often buy books at yard sale and when our local libraries sell of there old stock. There are a few How-to type books that I believe stand above the rest. One of the most common types are the Black & Decker series I find they are pretty good and do not really stray into the WTF were they thinking type of instruction common in some other series of how to books.

One of the consistently better series is Taunton presses For Pros by Pros series. One of the series that your are a lot more likely to pick up on some of the finer tricks of the trade type information than just a basic how to.

If I was to recommend an all in one book it would have to be the Reader Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual.They cover a remarkably broad range of subjects and has a decent section on tools.

For an interesting set on construction I would recommend Audels Carpenters and Builders Guide even though they are old a lot of the same techniques still apply.

If your just looking for something entertaining to read, with a a construction theme, House by Tracy Kidder should fill the bill.

If you guys want any recommendations just ask, I read a lot.

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I almost bought one of those HD books. I really liked them as well.

It is good, I don't think it is as good as the ReaderDigest book though, no chapter on tools :(

One of my favorite tile books is Tiling Planning, Layout, and Installation.


Not that much on pretty pictures or fancy graphics but a lot of solid technique.

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When I bought it I already had a fair idea what I was doing. I bought it just to refresh because it had been awhile and I'd never done it entirely alone before.

That is one of the reasons I like the For Pros by Pros series, they don't really dumb down a lot of the info like they do in most of the DIY type books.

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