With the Grain: A Craftman's Guide to Understanding Wood

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Review by dan81 posted 01-14-2014 10:00 PM 4017 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
With the Grain: A Craftman's Guide to Understanding Wood No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Hi LJ’s,

First off, I have no formal training in woodworking. Everything I’ve learned to date has been by either reading a book, a website, watching a YouTube video or trying something “logical” in the shop to see if it works. Well, I recently received a book for Christmas that I’d requested Santa bring me. It is by Christian Becksvoort, a name we are all familiar with I suspect.

This book covers subjects like land management and lumber harvesting / drying / storing. He goes into a bit of detail on specific wood species likely to be used by the woodworker, listing that particular wood’s tendencies when used/worked and offers suggestions for incorporating it into a project.

The book is 136 pages long and is absolutely jammed full of information. It’s concise and to the point. In fact, you’d better have a cup of coffee before you set out to read it, because just about every sentence is info that you’ll want to commit to memory if possible. I’m on my second read now.

Of special interest to me is his detailed account of construction and techniques on such things as dressers, cabinets and drawers. He does, I believe, a good job of explaining wood movement and how to factor it into a project for success (this is something everyone in woodworking school must learn, but again, I needed a book for it).

I’m giving it four stars only because I can’t give it 4.5 stars. I would have liked to see more photographs of the construction details, since text alone is not always enough for me as a beginner. I will still need to consult my companion books such as Rogowski’s “The Complete Illustrated Guide to Joinery” and my guide to sharpening written by Leonard Lee, to name a couple, but I’m sure this is going to help me through my next level of learning curves.

If anyone has a suggestion for good companion books to this one, I’d like to know what you think.


-- Glue-up is still the stage when everything that was perfect in dry-fit goes horribly wrong, but I'm working on it.

View dan81's profile


48 posts in 2790 days

4 comments so far

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 01-15-2014 07:57 AM

I can see we went to the same school although I’m not sure I will ever graduate.
Sounds like a good book…...................

-- mike...............

View Woodknack's profile


13439 posts in 3184 days

#2 posted 01-15-2014 08:02 AM

I’ve read a summary and it strikes me as a nice-to-know-but-probably-don’t-need book for intermediate to advanced woodworkers. Thanks for the review.

-- Rick M,

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3757 days

#3 posted 01-15-2014 12:32 PM

One could certainly do worse than share the knowledge of Christian Becksvoort. He’s both an expert woodworker and a fine writer. I’ve enjoyed his many articles in Fine Woodworking over the years. I’ll have to check out this new book.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Bampei's profile


48 posts in 4147 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 05:00 AM

Looking this up on Amazon, they don’t have the book, but they DO have the 85-minute DVD by the same name.

Ordered it, and will review after I have had a chance to digest it.

-- "Winter is Coming"...Game of Thrones is BACK! Season 5

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