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For each issue of Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal, we do a book review video. Usually we review new books, but this time I want to have a look at a set of books that's almost as old as I am, and tell you why you should have them in your library. It's a three-volume set called Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking.
Tage Frid was born in Denmark, where he began his apprenticeship at just 13 years old, coming of age during the birth of the modern Danish furniture movement. He was a master furniture maker, a skilled designer, and a lifelong teacher. But his true masterpiece, in my opinion, is this set of books. Within these three volumes is a complete course in woodworking, using both hand and power tools.
The first book focuses on joinery. It begins with the fundamentals- the wood, the tools, preparing your stock, and so on. He doesn't assume you already know the basics, but he doesn't talk down to you either. Before long you're cutting your first joints, and he covers them all: through dovetails, half-blind dovetails, full-blind dovetails, mitered dovetails, finger joints, angled finger joints, mock finger joints, mock dovetails, half-blind splines, and he's just getting started. Every sort of joint you can imagine is taught in fine detail, often with step-by-step photos. Sure, they're black and white, but they are clear and well thought out.
Watch the video...
...or read the article.
Book two covers shaping, veneering and finishing. You’ll learn how to steam bend, laminate, carve, turn; he teaches you how plywood is made, for goodness sakes! Seriously, it is amazing how much he fits into each volume, without glossing over anything. The finishing section is especially comprehensive, including sanding, grain filling, staining, ebonizing, oiling, shellacing, lacquering, varnishing and French polishing.
In volume three he puts all of this information to work, building 18 of his own designs, complete with all the plans and a full step by step instructions.
Together, these three volumes make up a complete course in woodworking, written by the man who pioneered woodworking education in America. Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking is absolutely timeless, and deserve a spot on your book shelf. Mine are the original editions, which you can still find on Amazon for as little as $5 or $10 a volume in lightly used condition. Volume three, with the furniture projects, can be a little more expensive, but good used copies are out there. If you can't find vintage copies, you can get them as a new boxed set at Highland Woodworking, but that's quite a bit more expensive.
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