Should be retitled Hand tools for the power tool woodworker.

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Review by ScottStewart posted 01-06-2014 09:48 PM 5584 views 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Should be retitled Hand tools for the power tool woodworker. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought this book with really high hopes but was disappointed. I thought this book skewed heavily toward Norm rather than being close to the midpoint between Norm and Roy. Marc has some really good content in the early archives on his site, so I was hopeful about this book.

Marc is a professional and everything he does is done with an eye toward being profitable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but his woodworking goals are different than the amateur’s. He prizes efficiency over enjoyment. I have a day job that I need to be efficient at. Being in the shop is it’s own reward, with a nice side effect that I am producing (hopefully) heirlooms.

There was no discussion of hand sawing technique (something that I thought would be in the book for sure). I also thought there would be a more prominent discussion on how to flatten the face of a board so it could be thicknessed using a planer (it’s there, but you have to look for it). There is no discussion of hand sawing tenons. I felt as if the project sections were very much glossed over and not enough detail given (my cynical suspicion is that it is done intentionally to drive traffic to his paid site).

The electronic version of this book is a PDF rather than an EPUB. As a practical matter I had to read it on my wife’s android rather than my Kindle.

There is a book out there wanting to be written about mostly hand tools with some power tools mixed in. This offering has missed. I hope there is enough space between this book and the Anarchist’s toolchest for a wonderful book to be written.

2 stars is a bit harsh, but I honestly don’t think this book is good enough to warrant a 3 star (average) evaluation.

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View woodcox's profile


2386 posts in 3125 days

#1 posted 01-06-2014 11:01 PM

I’m 3/4 of the way through this book. A lot of “why” and not so much “how”. Great info for beginners. He does say heaven for him is the sound of big machines. I like the book but early on it is clearly not a how to book. It is well written and you can hear Marc in your head as your reading. I will finish reading the book and when done I should rate it well for what it is.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 3151 days

#2 posted 01-06-2014 11:44 PM

I can’t comment on this new book by Marc because I haven’t read it. But my own personal opinion in general is that everything good to be written about woodworking has already been published, and now we are just rehashing the good stuff, or finding new bad ideas to publish.

There is a book out there wanting to be written about mostly hand tools with some power tools mixed in
I think a book that comes very close has already been written. You might try to find a copy of Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 1 Joinery: Tools and Techniques. Someone here on LJ did a review of it once -

It is 10 chapters. Chapter 3 is your saws and includes sharpening and using – to include handsaws, and powered saws. The preparing stock chapter has everything you need to know about handplanes. It also shows you the jointer and the planer and some tricks for dealing with problem wood. Mr. Frid leaves it to you to decide which tool(s) you want to use to do the job. That “hybrid” concept continues through the rest of the book as he tackles one woodworking joint after another.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

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1322 posts in 4588 days

#3 posted 01-07-2014 01:52 AM

I received the printed book as a Christmas gift and have read most of it. It was about what I expected and that is a method on how to balance between hand and power tools. It rather helped me as an an amateur to think through what hand tools would be good for me and what tools I could do without—shoulder plane being an example. A router plane might be a better first choice for me.

I’ve read several how to books. Now I need to practice as there is no substitute. But what tools to practice with was what I looked for and Marc’s book helped me in that regard.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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118162 posts in 4690 days

#4 posted 01-07-2014 02:09 AM

Not sure that all good books about woodworking have already been written but I do argee with you about Tage Frid ,Joe he is were many of the folks that are experts in woodworking got all of their info.


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556 posts in 2964 days

#5 posted 01-07-2014 03:06 AM

I think a review should be based on the promise of the tool / book and it should be evaluated as to whether it lives up to that advertised promise. I don’t think your being fair in this case. The book is clear that it is about efficiency and quality combined and not about using hand tools for their intrinsic pleasure. The subtitle of the book clear states ‘Blending power & hand tools for quick, quality furniture’.

In short, I believe the book completely lives up that promise and I feel it is against that promise that you should base your review. It seems the two stars reflects that the book didn’t meet your needs.

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66 posts in 2886 days

#6 posted 01-07-2014 03:17 AM

Ottacat, I agree. I think the book fulfilled the title as he suggested. Well written and a very good read for woodworkers who blend both power and hand tools.

View ThomasPittman's profile


39 posts in 2935 days

#7 posted 01-07-2014 03:55 AM

I agree with Ottacat, and also Sk1pp3r I guess. I have the book. To me, it was about showing how to be efficient without sacrificing quality, and that the power tool route was not always the fastest or best way. It blends both, showing that whatever works, is the best way to go. If you want to learn how to use a hand saw, you’re reviewing the wrong book.

View Scott's profile


121 posts in 3337 days

#8 posted 01-07-2014 03:58 AM

Seems like you went into this book with certain expectations in mind already. So it would be easy for it to fall short of that. I listen to his podcasts, and from those alone I get the impression that he’s not a hand saw guy, so I wouldn’t expect that content in the book.

My understanding of what the book was meant to be, is a bunch of hand tool techniques to utilize along side machine work in order to get projects completed. So you might use a hand plane to clean something up that would normally take extra time to reconfigure a machine to do.

I bought the book, although I have yet to read it, so maybe it won’t meet my expectations either :)

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6400 posts in 3926 days

#9 posted 01-07-2014 04:02 AM

I have the print version, and I like the book. Just like his website he uses power tools where appropriate, but that is just fine with me. I agree with your assessment that it is geared toward power tool woodworkers who are looking to expand into more traditional techniques. For me that makes it a 4 star book. The only thing the book could have done better is focus on projects, rather than techniques.

Thanks for the review.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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12628 posts in 3564 days

#10 posted 01-07-2014 01:07 PM

I would recommend Tage Frid as well. Get all three volumes.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4983 days

#11 posted 01-07-2014 05:45 PM

View RobinR's profile


3 posts in 3086 days

#12 posted 01-07-2014 06:18 PM

I bought the book and it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. I am still fairly new to woodworking and I need to know the efficient ways to do things so they look good and I can work on my skills. Along the way I’m figuring out which things I enjoy and which ones I need a faster easier way to accomplish to avoid pulling my hair out.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2910 days

#13 posted 01-07-2014 06:25 PM

Seems we are all entitled to our opinions but there are folks here who want to negate Scott’s. He read the book and gave his review. I find it refreshing when someone puts thought into a less than stellar review.

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Mark Davisson

598 posts in 4430 days

#14 posted 01-07-2014 07:54 PM

natenaaron, I agree. Those others who have read the book should post their own reviews.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View ScottStewart's profile


120 posts in 3245 days

#15 posted 01-07-2014 10:31 PM

I am going to try to distill and focus my review:

There is a continuum with hand tools and power tools woodworking and I think that Marc wrote the book for where he is on that continuum. (As Mr. Neil discussed that it documents Marc’s journey).

Coming from Pop Woodworking and with a title of Hybrid Woodworking, I thought this book would be significanlty more hand tool friendly.

If you have a power tool shop and want to do some things quicker and possibly more accurately with hand tools, this book is a good choice for you. (That is how I suggested the subtitle)

If you are trying to figure out where on the continuum you want to be on your journey, be aware that this book to me is not in the middle third of the universe.

Fair or not, it should also be noted that Marc’s main sponsors appear to be Powermatic, Festool, and ClearVue (and those relationships were not noted in the book).

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