WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Woodworkers Visual Handbook

The Woodworkers Visual Handbook
by Jon Arno

Reader's Digest Books, 1999
Hardcover, 435 pp., $29.95
ISBN: 0-7621-0122-41

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    A vast number of clear illustrations is the strong point of Jon Arno's wide ranging treatise on woodworking. Black and white drawings on every page help clarify a well-written text to guide the reader through use of individual tools, joinery techniques, finish characteristics, and jig building.
    This book includes useful tables on things such as maximum deflection in a single shelf span of hardwood compared to softwood, plywood, or laminate particleboard in several thicknesses. Arno discusses standard design dimensions for dining tables and chairs, coffee tables, office furniture and chests of drawers. He has a short section on furniture styles, and describes characteristics of each style with illustrations.
    Hand tools and power tools are covered individually, and the book is useful in its 'Quick Tips' sidebars, describing how to accurately line up a handsaw blade or prevent tear-out when planing end grain. Lumber grading is explained, with a list of common wood defects, their causes, and solutions. There is even a list of warping tendencies in common domestic woods. Over thirty pages are devoted to a full color gallery of wood types, with origins, weight and common uses of the species discussed.
    Throughout the text, Arno offers hints and tips to assist in projects: a drawer-slide positioning jig, ways to extend the reach of clamps at glue-up time, how to trouble-shoot problems with a sprayed finish or how to build a crosscut sled.
    This is an ideal 'starter book' for the beginning or intermediate woodworker. The illustrated introduction to setting up a shop, tools and hardware, milling and seasoning wood, joinery, veneering and finishing, is enough to guide anyone into safely experimenting on their own, which is the best way to learn any skill. It is well indexed and contains an illustrated glossary.
    Originally published by Rodale Press in 1995, the reprinted version by Reader's Digest Books is said to be a direct re-issue of the original, and is currently available on amazon.com. One could also do a used book search for it on abebooks.com.

...Barb Siddiqui