Woodwork Visualized by Ross Cramlet - vintage book review

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Review by Woodknack posted 12-10-2014 06:18 AM 2494 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Woodwork Visualized by Ross Cramlet - vintage book review Woodwork Visualized by Ross Cramlet - vintage book review No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Woodwork Visualized by Ross Cramlet is a book of illustrations detailing everything you should have, could have, or did, learn about woodworking in your high school industrial arts program.

[TLDR version: fledgling woodworkers should get a copy of this book or read it online for free.]

Ever wanted to predict which way a stick of lumber will warp? Curious why heartwood is more stable than sapwood? Cramlet crams much useful information about how trees grow, why and how lumber warps, how timber is cut into boards, how to measure board feet, and tips on selecting the strongest wood for handles (use fast grown, straight grain, wood); all in four pages packed with pictures.

The bulk of the book is about tools and how to use them. Sounds stale because every woodworking 101 book has a section explaining that circular saws are saws that go in a circle. But you won’t find power tools in Woodwork Visualized, it’s about human power. The real difference is Cramlet teaches you how the tools are used as he introduces them. Some of the basics are very basic, like how to read a ruler. But there are plenty of wise nuggets like:
  • How to set your bevel square to 30, 45, or 60 degrees without a protractor.
  • How to lay out common shapes with a compass.
  • Transferring designs with graph paper.
  • Setting up, tuning, and using hand planes.
  • Basic chisel cuts.
  • Filing. Rasping. Shaping. Sawing.
  • Several sections on wood joinery, marking, cutting, and fastening.
  • Sharpening. You know we woodworkers like to obsess about that.
  • And basic finishing.

There are a few projects at the end. Beginning with a simple box and working up to a saw bench, wall cabinet, workbench, tool box, and basic furniture. Projects may vary by edition.

I own the Second Edition ©1974. The online edition is ©1950. The Second Edition has 178 pages, 20 more than the online edition. There are minor differences in page order and projects shown. Pages above are from the 1950 edition.

originally published at

-- Rick M,

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13586 posts in 3721 days

2 comments so far

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2880 days

#1 posted 12-10-2014 02:17 PM


Nice coverage of the book. I’ve owned the older version for many years and have loaned it many times. You are correct about some of the material being very basic. However, I still go to it from time to time, especially for layup tips – he makes angled projects simple.

Thanks for the info.


-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4145 days

#2 posted 12-15-2014 12:56 AM

Thnx for your review. Sounds like a lotta gr8 info there

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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