Reddit reviews: The best carpentry books

We found 50 Reddit comments discussing the best carpentry books. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 14 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

Top Reddit comments about Carpentry:

u/yacht_boy · 42 pointsr/HomeImprovement

As an old house lover (and fellow old house owner), I'm begging you to please restore those windows! It can be done!

I'm making this response extra long and detailed since this question comes up from time to time. Hopefully it can be a resource for others.

But I say this as a guy who bought a real wreck of a house where the previous owner had let everything go. We needed to fix all 45 openings at once as part of a major rehab, and after 6 weeks of effort, about $3000 of experimentation (including taking a week off work and hiring two people to help me), I finally gave up and put in vinyl windows. It completely broke my heart, and my house is uglier because of it. But sometimes, an old window is just too far gone to save. But in that process I learned a lot and I'd like to share a few things.

  1. Old windows were designed to be maintained. That's why after almost 150 years your windows are still in pretty good shape. Modern vinyl windows are designed to be disposable. Once the seals break, they start to stick in their channels, etc., your only option is to put them in a landfill.

  2. Properly maintained old windows with properly installed weather stripping and properly installed/maintained storm windows are every bit as energy efficient as modern vinyl windows. This article goes into detail and has a huge list of references including links to primary research on the topic for the people who don't believe me.

  3. If you are at all handy, you can figure out how to maintain your old windows.

  4. If you live in a place where old houses are common, there may well be a local shop that specializes in this kind of thing. Here in Boston, we have two great resources. The nonprofit Boston Building Resources does classes on window restoration and sells all the stuff you'll need. And Olde Bostonian will do it all for you if you have the cash. This isn't Home Depot level stuff, so look for specialists.

  5. Old windows are a big source of lead paint dust, especially from the two sashes (the two actual window parts that move up and down) rubbing in the frames. If you have kids or are planning on having them, removing the lead paint from the windows is the biggest lead paint improvement you can make in your home. Even if you aren't planning on having kids, work safely. Grownups can get lead poisoning, too. Or, like us, you might have an unplanned pregnancy. Or you might have friends who have kids. Or want to sell it to a nice family someday. Get a lead-safe respirator (not cheap dust masks), do as little dry sanding as possible, and take the windows to a spot outside of your house (garage, shed, outside on a nice day) to do work on them so you don't spread lead dust all over your house. If you can set up a little containment zone with some plastic sheeting on the ground, that's good practice. EPA would have you go nuts with plastic and tyvek suits and so on. That may be overkill, but common sense tells you to minimize spreading lead dust around your house and keep it out of your body. Also, if it's possible to pull off the old trim and the old window sills and replace that with new trim while you've got the sashes out, that will get rid of another huge source of lead paint. If not, consider repainting those pieces with encapsulating paint after you put it all back together.

  6. The biggest lesson I learned is DON'T DO THEM ALL AT ONCE! We had to because we needed to renovate the whole house. But it sounds like you don't have to. Pick a room where you can live without a window for a little while, like the attic or a rarely used guest bedroom. Pull ONE window apart and figure out how it works. Repair and replace that one window. Then do a second window in that room, and so on. As you get better at it, you might move up to pulling all of the windows in a single room out at the same time.

  7. Steam is your friend. Buy a steamer. The size and type depend on how much work you will be doing. I tried a couple and found this one to be the most ideal. Steam will soften up paint and putty so that you can easily scrape it right off.

  8. You'll want some good specialty tools. I really like these scrapers. One. Two. Three. I also found this set of small prybars (especially the very smallest one) to be invaluable in getting old windows apart.

  9. If you're going to be doing a bunch of windows, set yourself up with a really comfortable work zone including a big flat work surface (plywood over sawhorses) and a place to put all your scrapers, glazing tools, etc. Hopefully you have a garage or shed where you can leave stuff for a while.

  10. And last but not least...don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. These windows are 150 years old. You can go insane building steam stripping boxes and trying to make the paint perfect and trying to get everything functioning the way it did the day the house was built. But you don't have to. Just get them to the point where they open and close, the glass is not broken or rattling, and they are reasonably weatherstripped. Let the exterior storms do more of the work on energy efficiency. I would definitely NOT recommend putting each sash into a steam box and stripping all of the glazing and paint and starting from scratch. That way lies madness.

    OK, on to your questions.

  • Here's a great video about disassembling a window. I found all sorts of amazing things done to the windows in my house that made them hard to disassemble. Generally speaking, first cut the paint between the sash and the frame with a utility knife and see if that works. If not, look for nails and screws that might be holding the window sash in place. Often these are painted over and are hard to find.

  • It seems you might have single sash windows. That's unusual for an 1870s house but not completely unheard of. I had some of those in my house. After you've taken all the trim off and removed the lower sash, you will be able to pull the top sash out. There will be something holding it in place. Figure out what that thing is and remove it. As for the lower sashes, previous owners might have gotten frustrated with broken sash cords and covered up the pocket holes. When you disassemble the window you will hopefully be able to figure out what they did and undo it.

  • There are plenty of good guides on how to weatherize old windows. The DOE has a great page on the topic with links to detailed instructions on a variety of methods. The video series linked below is also good.

    General resources and tools I found useful:

  • The Save America's Windows forum, organized by topic, is a gem (if not always easy to find what you're looking for).

  • This 4-part window rehab workshop youtube video series is pretty good.

  • Book 1: Save America's Windows: Caring for older and historic wood windows.

  • Book 2: The Window Sash Bible: a A Guide to Maintaining and Restoring Old Wood Windows
u/neverJamToday · 3 pointsr/HomeImprovement

This is going to seem like a weird suggestion but hear me out:

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook.

If you just see the cover, you'll be like, "um, I don't need a book to tell me how to wash windows, k thx bye."

But a picture of the cover doesn't show the Bible-like thickness of this book. It's like 750 pages and is a comprehensive guide to living in a house. Covers everything you should be doing to maintain a house on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Covers how to manage specific rooms. Covers how to deal with pets. Covers everything from how to wash and fold clothes to how to repair the plumbing to the washing machine. Covers everything from how to clean a lampshade to how to add a new lightswitch. Has a "materials library" where it goes over every possible material things could be made out of in your home and how to care for them.

It's absurd how in-depth it is. It's basically everything you'll "find out the hard way" about owning a home over 30 years, the easy way and without the wait.

But, if you're looking to go beyond "how to be a homeowner," the Reader's Digest/Family Handyman "Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual is the single best resource for all your DIY home improvement heavy lifting.

u/ITchick2014 · 7 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Some things I would do in addition to changing locks and a deep clean...

Test out and explore the circuit breaker. Know what does what outlets/lights/etc.

Replace all of the smoke detectors if you don't know how old they are. Most are only rated for 10 years. Get a CO combo unit as well. Could save your life later. Pick up a fire extinguisher as well and check it whenever you check your fridge filter (or furnace filter if the fridge doesn't have water filter).

Clean your oven. Always good to have a fresh start.

Have stained woodwork? Invest in a wax stick and stain marker that matches the existing trim to repair any nicks and scratches that happen when you move in :)

Most importantly...remember there is no rush on many repairs. Water is something best repaired as soon as discovered...but little things you may find annoy you (like the off-white outlets and switches) are things you can tackle whenever you deem fit. Owning a home is not as difficult as many people make it out to be. You already have found a good resource. Here is another one I would suggest:


Most of all...enjoy your home. Remember to relax and share it with others...especially those you care about. Wish you the best!

u/goodhumansbad · 1 pointr/CasualConversation
  1. Definitely invest in a good basic home DIY book (you never know when the power/internet will go out and then where will Youtube be as you grapple around in the dark trying to fix your hot water heater?). This is the one my dad has: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Yourself-Manual-Newly-Updated/dp/1621452018/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

  2. Keep all manuals for appliances and read them (especially things like washers/dryers, ovens, etc.). Proper care will extend the life of all appliances and can prevent dangerous incidents like fires or floods due to misuse or wear & tear.

  3. Prevention is always better than cure! For example, a toilet plunger and a sink plunger are two things you want to have on hand before you need them. Invest in some basic tools - a multihead screwdriver, hammer, wrenches and a power drill will definitely come in handy.

  4. On a similar note, learn where everything is (I know this sounds basic, but you'd be amazed at what people don't know about their own homes) e.g. shutoff valves for each toilet/sink, the shutoff for the water to the whole house, breaker box, etc.

  5. When you're buying the house, ask as many questions as possible before the sale: What kind of wiring does it have? Has the roof been redone recently? How about the brick pointing if applicable? How old is the furnace? Are their warranties on any of the structural elements like the roof? Is it transferable to a new owner? Make sure you know all this stuff and write it down in a "house bible" if you will - that way if something goes wrong and you need to hire a professional, you can answer their questions quickly and efficiently.

  6. Finally, when it comes to fixing things know your limits. It's great to learn DIY and try projects yourself, but remember that there are professionals out there for a reason! If you're not sure, put down the hammer and ask - ask an expert, ask at Home Depot, ask your friends/family, ask the internet, but have all the facts before you start.
u/dromio05 · 1 pointr/HomeImprovement

YouTube is good. Google is good. This book is good. Friends and family are good. This sub is good.

A lot of home improvement projects are actually surprisingly simple. Swapping out a light fixture, for example, is usually pretty much just disconnecting a couple wires from the old one and reconnecting them to the new one exactly the same way. Whatever it is, just start small, take your time, triple check everything before you do something irreversible, and remember that it's your house so you want to do it right.

u/Lanthorn · 3 pointsr/woodworking

Hi bud, I answered above but I'll paste it here as well so you can see it:

Charles Hayward's book Woodwork Joints would be a good start. That's the amazon link but you can usually find used copies or special order it at your local library. Rob Cosman, David Charlesworth, and Chris Schwarz have all written pretty extensively about dovetails. Alan Peters favored these as well. This article is a good brief for beginners.

Unfortunately a book with the complete history of dovetails doesn't exist. I've pieced together information from a couple hundred books on period furniture. magazine articles, and internet sources. There's little bits and pieces everywhere but no comprehensive tome to my knowledge.

u/jspurlin03 · 5 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Family Handyman magazine is a good one for the stage you’re at. Sign up for their email list of tips; I have and often find something useful in their newsletter emails.

Familiarizing yourself with the basic tools you need — various simple manual hand tools and their use, simple power hand tools and their use — that is a good first step.

Learning to use tools in the proper way will prevent you from inadvertently making some ill-advised-but-common mistakes, and will help keep you safe in the meantime. (For example— Could one use a flathead screwdriver as a rock chisel? Perhaps. Should you? No, and there are reasons for that and better tools for the job.)

Books like this one:
The Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual Newly Updated

Should be a good starting point. They’ll cover the basic ways houses are plumbed, wired, and some of the basic building techniques.

If you’re planning to do electrical work around your house, I’m going to highly recommend a non-contact voltage tester because it can tell you when a switch still has electricity live to it. I have a couple of weird wiring configurations (multiple breakers used in the same junction box, from three-way light switches) in our 2015 house, and my tester has saved me from risking getting shocked a couple of times. Being careful is also key, but that sort of tester is a good thing to have.

u/ComeOnYouApes · 6 pointsr/Construction

Carpentry, 6th Ed is about as close to a carpenters bible I've ever found. It's a bit pricey but covers pretty much everything you could ever encounter as a carpenter. I read from it daily as part of my go to bed ritual to keep it fresh in my mind.

A lot of the information is presented in freedom units though, so keep that in mind if you are in a metric area. A lot of the information is specific to building in the USA, but I'd imagine the processes are the same or close to the same as other nations.

u/Hredx · 1 pointr/woodworking

Carpentry and Construction, 3rd edition by John L. Feirer and Gilbert R. Hutchings - Amazon link

Cabinetmaking and Millwork also by John L. Fairer Amazon link

Pocket Reference, 4rth edition by Thomas Glover - Amazon link, Reddit thread

All books will be instantly obvious as to why they are valuable when you first open them up and look inside. Do you want to know the books your favorite YouTuber/teacher would likely have had to learn to start their woodworking paths? These were them.

u/Vjdit · 1 pointr/DIY

This is the book used to teach students entering into carpentry and building construction where I'm at in the US:


It not only tells you how but why things are built the way they are. It gives you a primer on not only carpentry and construction but also the tools used in the trades, how to manage construction schedules (when to have electricians, plumbers, finish carpenters, etc. scheduled to show up) and how to manage construction cost (when to use engineered lumber and when not to, how to plant landscaping to mitigate heating and cooling costs, how to position the build on the lot you have to best take advantage of Sun, wind, and on and on).

It's aim is to take a complete novice and provide them with enough knowledge to start in the construction trades. Having said that, it is a bit dated so a supplimentary book with updates on the things that have changed would be a good idea to get in addition to this one. Having said that, if there is one book the vast majority of carpenters and builders in the US have read, this is the one.

I'd also get this:

u/throwawaybutnotrlly · 1 pointr/HomeImprovement

There's nothing you can't do without the right tools, patience and some will to learn. With that being said, I can't recommend Taunton's Press books enough. YouTube videos and online tutorials are good, but these books are so well made, easy to follow and make for fantastic handheld references:


Wiring Complete

Plumbing Complete

Carpentry Complete

Trim Complete


Start small. Take it one project at a time. There's nothing that you see on a DIY show that you can't do yourself. I'm a firm believer in that.

u/MrTheorem · 2 pointsr/HomeImprovement

I trust Fine Homebuilding. For about $40/year, you can get access to their entire archives online. Although they don't always have something specific to what I want to do. And the books from their parent company, The Taunton Press are really good.

Also, the Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual which is a collaboration between Readers' Digest and Family Handyman is actually a very good comprehensive general resource.

u/N3O9Pr · 4 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Some books previously recommended on this sub:



“A Practical Illustrated Trade Assistant on Modern Construction For Carpenters-Joiners, Builders-Mechanics, and all Wood Workers.”

Do-It-Yourself Housebuilding: The Complete Handbook. by George Nash.

Also, Old This Old House and/or Ask This Old House episodes that cover framing may be valuable to you. JLC and FineHomeBuilding.com are likely to have some beneficial tid-bits of wisdom when you start formulating you're own queries.

u/tehphysics · 2 pointsr/BeginnerWoodWorking

It may be not popular, as I have never seen it suggested, but this was the book that got me started. It is a bit dated but it has excellent reference diagrams, some basic projects for woodworking, and most of the carpentry they discuss is useful around the home. Plus it is cheap for the old edition, linked in this post.

u/Ferrisimo1701 · 5 pointsr/ftm

This book has really great reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Yourself-Manual-Newly-Updated/dp/1621452018/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481734426&sr=1-1&keywords=home+improvement+book

Also I second the Youtube suggestion! My 70 year old step dad who isn't great at home improvement and is even worse with computers successfully repaired our washer with the help from Youtube.

u/Rick91981 · 2 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Something like THIS is a good start, but really YouTube is probably your best resource.

u/mslindz · 2 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Looks like there's a newer one from 2014, which is what I bookmarked to buy. The other poster linked the one from 1991 and then from 2005. There's also an edition from 2009. I searched it on Amazon to make sure I had the most recent version. Thanks for the heads up, though!

u/gmkoliver · 1 pointr/Carpentry

I'd recommend getting a good introductory book, and then browse YT, there are a ton of videos on there. Anything from Taunton press in the For Pros by Pros series should be decent, like this one https://www.amazon.com/Trim-Carpentry-Pros-Editors-Homebuilding/dp/1600855024/ref=pd_sim_14_4?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=XPTC7A0JENCDE9RHX8YX

u/bloobal00 · 6 pointsr/HomeImprovement

my uncle gave me an old copy of his from the 80s when i moved into my house a couple years ago. some of the things like electrical are outdated but a lot of it is still relevant. it makes all of these big projects sound doable, even for someone like me who can’t drill a screw in straight.

i believe the most current edition on sale for only $24 on amazon right now.

u/uberphaser · 2 pointsr/AskMen

Invest 25 bucks in a hardcover copy of The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual it's a TREASURE HOUSE of info. It's also a good barometer for "Should I hire a contractor?" If it's not in there, you should.

u/bailtail · 3 pointsr/HomeImprovement

I just purchased the following book, and it's great. Highly recommended.

The Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual Newly Updated https://www.amazon.com/dp/1621452018/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_3-sHzbRJE9KW2

u/nithos · 3 pointsr/HomeImprovement


I lucked out with my house and was able to get most windows functional with a paint scraper.

Try to carefully remove the side jam to remove the bottom sash to get a better idea of how they where balanced. It doesn't look to be the standard sash cord with cast iron counter weight.

If you worried about lead paint, try to keep the paint wet and off your skin. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2502/

u/trippknightly · 3 pointsr/HomeImprovement

In this electronic age, there are still some classic books worth having in the toolbox. I think if you want it to be useful and thorough it can't be small.

u/arizona-lad · 4 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Binge watch episodes of This Old House. 40 years of solid advice for the homeowner.

Build a library:





Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. You learn things that will last a lifetime, and you are making people's lives better; one nail at a time.

u/jldude84 · 3 pointsr/HomeImprovement

Hmm...most useful things for $300. I would recommend Lowe's/Home Depot, but since you're limited to Amazon....

u/Primary_Sequins · 1 pointr/Carpentry

Since Larry Haun has already been recommended, a couple of my other favourites: Finish Carpentry by Gary Katz, and Rough Framing Carpentry by Mark Currie.

u/IntoTheWeirderness · 1 pointr/woodworking

I just found it on Amazon with prime shipping. Get em while they're hot, I guess.

Edit: Almost forgot the link. https://www.amazon.com/Carpentry-Joinery-Illustrated-Paul-Hasluck/dp/0982863209

u/GoKartMozart · 1 pointr/woodworking

I have a dewalt 10" and it does everything I need it to. I have done everything you are looking to do.

As for your house not being at a perfect 90 degree you are 100% right. It won't be. But your miter saw won't help fix that, you are going to have to learn how to cope your mouldings and spend a lot of time practicing.

I personally like this book and used it a lot. I would read everyting you can about doing the work before you start. Then start some where that doesn't get much traffic because you will make mistakes and the learning curve can be frustrating sometimes.