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The Real Wood Bible: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Choosing and Using 100 Decorative Woods Spiral-bound – Aug 6 2005

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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books; Spi edition (Aug. 6 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554070333
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554070336
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #272,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


You'll learn all about wood color and grain, sustainability and storage -- even how to turn your own trees into boards and veneers. It's a must-have reference to the world's most popular building material. (Sara Scott Log Home Design Ideas)

Every type of wood has its own personality and its own best uses, according to The Real Wood Bible... color photos and descriptions of 100 popular decorative woods. (James Cummings Dayton Daily News 2005-08-18)

It's the book you'd expect from a guy who made his first tool box from utile, an African mahogany. (Mark Feirer This Old House)

Written to answer any wood-related question... With such complete information, a book like this is likely to become the Holy Grail of wood. (Hardwood Floors 2005-12-01)

Invaluable for the novice but also a good reference for the pro. (Peggy Mackenzie Toronto Star 2006-01-19)

A thorough guide that can help beginning and advanced woodworkers choose between 100 types of decorative woods... A photo index makes browsing easy. (Rebecca Swain Vadnie Orlando Sentinel 2005-08-28)

There's more to wood than just how it looks.... learn the strengths and weaknesses of all types of wood. (Heidi Rose Lamirande Boston Globe 2005-11-03)

An essential reference for anyone who works with wood or makes decisions about how and where it's used. (Home and Design)

This comprehensive guide to 100 of the world's most popular woods can help you select the best one for your project... Great for woodworkers, designers and homeowners alike. (Diana Luciani Style At Home)

Of particular note is a full-page photo of each species showing the wood in two states: bare and with a clear finish... a valuable and useful guide. (Anatole Burkin Fine Woodworking)

36 pages of pertinent advice, including seven steps to choosing wood and discussion of issues surrounding certified supply. (Sharon Wootton Olympia Olympian 2005-12-03)

Gibbs, a carpenter and editor of Woodworker magazine, includes a vast amount of details about each wood variety: strengths and weaknesses, key details, primary uses, price range and, new this year, a sustainability rating. Also included are glossy, close-up photos of each wood, shown unfinished and oiled. The woods include those from around the world. Besides being a veritable encyclopedia of woods, the book gives tips on buying and storing lumber, sustainability issues and an explanation of how trees become boards. (Melanie Warner Houston Chronicle 2012-04-14)

This is a useful and informative guide to woods used in building and crafts. Its best use may be to direct consumers away from stressed and threatened species and toward reasonable, sustainable substitutes.... Although written mainly for crafters and homebuilders or renovators looking for interesting trim options, the casual browser will find something to mull over. (Mary-Liz Shaw Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2012-04-08)

About the Author

Nick Gibbs is a carpenter and editor of Woodworker magazine. He has contributed to many books including The Flooring Handbook.

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Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Most woodworkers have a "palette" of woods that they favor, experimenting with alternatives for a specific purpose, or perhaps because they come across or are given a new board or veneer. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Herman on Jan. 16 2006
Format: Spiral-bound
I found this book really helpful in detailing the various woods from around the world. I make pens and although our local hardwood supplier has many woods available, it is difficult to find help regarding tooling and finishing ability of some these imported woods. This book not only has clear pictures of woods (really helps identify these various imported woods) but will tell how you the tree group , best type of finish to use, and the work ability.
Also, some of the names used by retailers on their woods aren't necessary the correct name. The illustrations are so good that you can take the book with you to identify the wood by its correct name. To me the book is easy to use and makes a real asset to the woodworker who uses harwoods for turning and projects. I give it a five because there are so few books on identifying wood types, its hard to make a comparison. That said, this makes for a good reference for the woodworker and a fine gift.
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By Jehan Belinge TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 4 2013
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
Neatly presented, a wonderfull reference book. The photography and text work are outstanding. The illustrations, even those in the preface serve their purpose very well. I only wished the author would have included an alphabetical cross-reference name listing as many woods are named differently and latin is not my forte.
This gem of a book should be used by anyone who has an affinity or a use for wood. Collectors, floor-makers, cabinet makers, carvers and turners to mention a few will find it most usefull.
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By Theron on March 6 2015
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
Satisfait du livre et livraison rapide.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason on Feb. 25 2006
Format: Spiral-bound
My first review. This book is amazing the title says it all
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing May 29 2006
By David C. Brayton - Published on
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I bought this book because a quick glance showed the the photos are very good. As one reviewer noted, most woods includes a full page photo that is split in half, one showing unfinished, one showing finish.

However, the book doesn't offer much practical advice for working the wood. A lot of the lesser used species include advice like "Gluing: Little is known, best to experiement on scraps." Uhh, thanks?

The reason I purchased a reference book was so that if I use something uncommon, I could look up things I don't know. Instead, the author, an editor of a woodworking magazine no less, tells me that the only thing his book is good for is the pretty pictures. This is especially true of the section called "Secondary Woods"--substamtially lacking in useful information.

Why isn't there a book that compilies USEFUL information about a wood?

Some of the photos on unique aspects, such as quarter sawn surfaces and figure, do not illustrate the wood well. For example, the photos of figured cherry, curly maple and crotch mahogany don't even start to illustrate the beauty of these woods. The spalted maple photo makes one think that spalted maple should be used for heating the house. The burl photos do a very good job however. (Why is bog oak listed under diseased wood?)

Also, there are inconsistent names used. For example, American elm is listed with the note that it is "often referred to as white elm" but later in the description it is referred to as "gray elm". So, is this just a typo or is there another type of elm called "gray".

Finally, the information provided is not very consistent. For example, Some woods have information regarding assembly (screwing, nailing, gluing) others don't. The omission of assembly information is inexplicable and rather unforgiveable. Anyone who buys woods will assemble it, won't they?

Another example, under Dutch elm, it says that it must be given "the opportunity to move when used as a panel or tabletop". Don't you need to do this with all wood? And if so, why isn't mentioned with any other wood? Is Dutch elm special?

And here's a list of woods not covered that probably should be: aspen, big leaf maple (aka oregon maple), ipe, lyptus, pernambuco, myrtle, claro walnut, peruvian walnut, granadillo, black acacia, red gum, canarywood, regular/american chestnut, mesquite,, goncalvo alves, cypress, box elder, lacewood, leopardwood, olive, lauan/phillipine mahogany, kwila, doussie, alaskan yellow cedar, port orford cedar, vera/argentinian 'lignum vitae' and sycamore.

If I could, I change my rating to 1 star.

BTW, the picture for horse chestnut is wrong.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Good reference book for the beginner and expert woodworker March 16 2006
By TCM - Published on
Format: Spiral-bound
Very good book, can be used as quick reference guide when trying to choose a wood to build any furniture, I found very useful the fact that it shows the wood appearance with and without finish so one figure out how the colour will change when a finish is applied.

For the ecological concious woodworker it tells you those species that are endangered. It describes the characteristics of each wood, hardness, grain, workability etc.

The only drawback I found was that I would have appreciated that in addition to the latin name and english one it should show the name of the wood in other languages
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Likable Dec 17 2005
By P. van Rijckevorsel - Published on
Format: Spiral-bound
This is a likable book, with plenty of color pictures of a nice quality, that present the true colors rather faithfully. I can well imagine this will be a convenience for somebody who is thinking about selecting wood for a project.

However, this is a book written by a woodworker for woodworkers. By this time I can make a list (prior to opening the book) of the errors that are likely to be in such a book. Opening this book I find all these errors faithfully perpetuated, as expected. A rather spectacular new blunder is made in the entry for /Aniba/ (in this case /Aniba rosaeodora/ under its synonym /Aniba duckei/) where the text points out that there is an African "pau rosa" and a South American "pau rosa", and then blithely combines the name of the South American "pau rosa" with a picture of the African "pau rosa" (to be clear "pau rosa" is a vernacular or trade name attached to several woods: the two woods that are linked in the book have less in common than a Boeing 747 and a Rolex watch).

Another quible is that $30 is rather pricey for a middle-of-the-road book, that offers nothing new. Still, all in all a likable book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the few with information on sustainability. May 16 2008
By S. Klemish - Published on
Format: Spiral-bound
I like this book. As other reviews have pointed out, this book is not all inclusive, it does not list thousands of species, but lists basic information on many of the more common species used in woodworking. The pictures are of good quality. This is the only book I have found with information on sustainability of various woods. I refuse to purchase woods that are endangered (like wenge), or vulnerable (like cocobolo,) and this book provides such information, and is small enough to carry around when shopping. So, at least for my purposes, I really like this book. I wish more books would at least address sustainability. I would like to have a more comprehensive reference with such information but have found that difficult to find.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Could be Better April 3 2007
By Admiral Schmickover - Published on
Format: Spiral-bound
Not bad. Lots of color photos, and basic information about each species, but a bible it is not..more like Cliff Notes.

I would like to see examples of finished pieces of some of the species, and I couldn't find many of the species I was looking for. While I understand it will not contain every concievable wood, it was lacking information about all five of the species I was looking for, each of which was available at my local hardwood supplier and woodworking store.

Not bad for a basic reference, but you could get better information by doing a Google search of your particular wood.