"Hybrid Woodworking" by Marc Spagnuolo
(The following is a Stumpy Nubs review of “Hybrid Woodworking”, written by Marc Spagnuolo, published by Popular Woodworking)
Am I the only one that can't say "The Wood Whisperer" without giggling? I picture one of those close talkers, the guy who leans in to say something with an extra dose of breath and spit. Well, I am here to tell you, Marc Spagnuolo is not one of those guys. He's the "good" kind of wood whisperer, the kind that has useful secrets to share, and always does so at a comfortable distance. Until recently, Marc only whispered those secrets at slumber parties and on his popular internet woodworking videos. But now he's a bona-fide author, and I was lucky enough to snag an early copy of "Hybrid Woodworking". It took me a week to finish since I only read in you-know-where, but now that I've perused every last page, I am prepared to give my honest opinion. Get ready…
My favorite part has to be the words. Don't get me wrong, it's also full of some wonderful pictures, which I'll get to in a moment. But these days, far too many books are just a collection of photographs slapped between two covers with poorly written text to fill in the blank spots. Build a bird house, take some snapshots, write a step-by-step and a few captions… sell a book. Not so with Hybrid Woodworking. Marc actually has something to say, and what's more, we WANT to hear it! From front to back he lays out his philosophy of modern woodworking. What is that philosophy? Imagine a hypothetical child of Norm Abram and Roy Underhill. He'd have a mustache, I think we all can agree on that. But he'd also have a workshop where the power tools do the grunt work, while the delicate tasks are reserved for hand tools. He'd cut the parts for his project with a table saw, but then he'd finish it with smoothing planes and scrapers, and he'd probably cut himself, just like dear old dads. He wouldn't be a power junkie like Norm, or a traditional guy like Roy, he'd be a hybrid, and perhaps the greatest woodworker to ever live. Want to be like Noroy Abramhill? Then this is the book for you.
Hybrid Woodworking doesn't tell you which tools you SHOULD use. It helps you figure out which tools you WANT to use. It reminds us that it's ok to mix it up. Use a dado set to cut that tenon, then tune it to a perfect fit with a shoulder plane. If you're exclusively a power tool guy, you'll see that you may be missing out on some easier, better, or more enjoyable ways of working. On the other hand, if you're one of those guys who refuse to use anything but hand tools, you may be legally insane. (Marc didn't say that, but he should have. Have you ever tried to mill all your rough stock with only hand planes? Nuts, man…) Actually, Marc is careful not to wade too deeply into the power vs. traditional tool debate, because that's not what the book is about. He wants you to expand your horizons, wherever they may take you.
To help us become "Hybrid Woodworkers", Marc demonstrates how to compliment your power tool work with some specific hand tools that he uses every day. He makes good use of high quality photographs to illustrate the tips and techniques that have made his own woodworking more efficient and more enjoyable. Walking us through a selection of projects designed to put those techniques into practice, he fills every page with genuinely useful information. And he does it all with the laid back style that he's become known for. Bottom line is, "Hybrid Woodworking" is a book you'll want to read, underline, even write some notes in the margin, because it's full of lots of stuff worth "whispering" about.
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