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on January 20, 2001
This book is not about woodworking, it is about wood. It is not about the «HOW»s but about the «WHY»s. The author describes wood as a material: how its anatomy and life determine its structure, how the way it is harvested and prepared (dried, riped, planned, etc) will affect its properties, etc. You will learn nothing about the practice of woodworking. Rather, you will acquire background understanding that is essential to anyone who wants to think by himself when working with wood.
The tone of the book is a little bit serious. When reading you will have to pay attention. Included are tables, graphics, diagrams, etc. There are lots of lenghty and tightly packed texts, and the edition I read was illustrated by black and white pictures, wich made for a rather austere appearance.
The treatment of the subject is systematic, torough and intelligent. The acquired knowledge is pertinent and will make the reader a smarter woodworker, one who understand what he does and who appreciate wood as a wonderfull material, one to be thankfull for its beauty and usefulness.
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on December 6, 2001
This book takes you from qualitative to quantitative understanding by means of accurate, readable explanations and a minimum of fuss. For instance, after explaining why a house settles, Hoadley shows us clearly how to estimate how much it will settle and what a knowledgeable builder could do about it.
Or take this simple woodworking situation: you are building a towel rack from two side pieces of white pine drilled to accept a maple dowel. Exactly how much wider should the hole be than the dowel so that expansion and contraction due to moisture changes in the bathroom won't split the sides?
A little time spent with this book will give you the ability to answer questions like these, quickly, exactly, and with authority. No more guessing about the effects of moisture, temperature, finish, and loads on wood: just look up the data in the clear and handy tables and graphs Hoadley provides and do the simple calculations (it's multiplication and division, folks, with nothing harder than an occasional exponent).
Almost every chapter contains revelations for the newcomer to woodworking. Early on we learn not only that wood changes size with moisture, but by how much (according to species), in which directions, how this affects its shape, and what are the common and best techniques to compensate for or design for these changes when building anything with wood. Later we learn how to relate these moisture changes to humidity--there's a clear and handy chart, as well as an easily memorized rule of thumb--and how to build and calibrate a simple shop hygrometer. In another chapter Hoadley applies this information to a discussion culminating in valuable information on sanding and finishing wood.
The many applications to an understanding of all things wooden make this book stand out for the casual reader, while the detailed, systematic explanations of the whys and hows make it ongoingly useful for anyone who crafts quality things from wood. It is the ideal supplement to an entire library on the how-to's of woodworking, because with the information given here, you will be equipped to make intelligent choices of how to select, cut, assemble, and finish a project of any size and complexity.
The only nit I have to pick has to do with the presentation of mathematical formulas: it's miserable. For instance, in one place the expression "D/O" stands for a single quantity rather than a value "D" divided by a value "O". Potentially confusing, yes; but what compensates for it is the clear descriptions and examples in the text: these are so good, you can totally ignore the formulas and not miss a thing.
Overall, Hoadley's long, thoughtful experience with all aspects of wood, from the engineering through the creative, shine through consistently. That's why I give this one five stars and I'm buying more copies for friends.
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on November 24, 2000
This second edition is "completely revised and updated". This does not go for the text: of the text of the first edition better than 99% is present here, only minutely altered. A six-page new chapter (#16) on Engineered Wood has been added. The chapters on panels and boards are somewhat revised as is the chapter on Finding Wood. In the other chapters text has been swapped around, but has not been changed.
The "revision" is mostly in the layout and pictures. The line drawings are substantially unaltered, but of the photographs most were replaced by color photographs of a generally very good quality.
As a wood anatomist my attention was drawn to the chapter on identifying wood. Since this subject is covered in much more dept in "Identifying_Wood" (same author, same publisher) there were two ways to go, either 1) eliminate the overlap by replacing this with a presentation of woods by pictures of longitudinal grain (as in "The_Good_Wood_Handbook") which would have been user-friendly and would have had my preference or 2) upgrade this book to the level of its companion. The latter strategy has been chosen and the black&white end grain pictures of the 1st edition have been replaced by pictures found in "Identifying_Wood". These are reproduced here at a higher magnification, allowing more detail to be seen. The selection of woods has been altered, with more tropical woods included.
Summing up: although this is a lot more attractive book than the first edition it is only worth replacing that first edition if the book is to be used frequently (for example as a teaching aid). For those who think this is a fairly expensive book I can recommend "The_Good_Wood_Handbook" by Jackson & Day which although much more modest in every respect is good value-for-money, and is a more accessible book.
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on February 15, 2004
This is THE authoritative look into wood. I have been searching high and low for a book that covers the theory of wood and how it reacts with moisture. Most books throw in basic wood-working information that I don't need, or some "project" samples. This book only had the good stuff: It gets technical, but at an understandable level. It covers the basic cellular level of the tree, on up to how that effects your cut board. Topics include, cell structure, reaction to moisture, how wood dries, how it reacts to changes in moisture, Moisture Content levels to be expected in different regions in the USA, how to store wood, and on and on...
If you're interested in wood and how moisture affects it (and you SHOULD BE!!) than this is THE book.
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on July 1, 2003
This is not a how-to book. I do not recommend this book for the beginning WWer since it does not deal with the practical aspects of woodworking but rather with the material we use in our craft. By describing the anatomy and phisiology of wood it not only helps us understand wood but woodworking itself. We can copycat techniques on joinery and get by all our life without this book but when you find yourself in the position of having to design a piece from scratch and determine the type of joinery/adhesives to use, the knowledge acquired here will become invaluable.
Even though this book is not about woodworking it will definitely make you better woodworker. Highly recommend this book for woodworkers going the distance regardless of their level.
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on September 24, 2001
A woodworking store employee sold me this title as the Woodworker's Bible. After reading through it, I realized I really needed the Woodworker's Mistle.
I am new to home woodworking and needed a good reference as an introduction to wood. Why is cherry best for this project? What's going to happen to walnut if...? Why should I stay away from this specie for this project? And so on...
This wasn't it. It is a very in-depth, fabulous book and if I am still enjoying woodworking and building my woodworking skills 5 years from now this book will be invaluable. Again, I thought the book was incredibly interesting and comprehensive, just a little over the average amateur's head (and needs).
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on March 5, 2004
This book covers a tremendous amount of information that the general woodworker needs to know but would likely take 20 years to learn on his own. So why isn't it sold in my local wood working specialty store? Because it has a weak first chapter that can be confusing and slightly incomplete. Other parts of the book are better written. Don't let the first chapter scare you off just keep reading, it gets much better and quite thrilling at times. By the time you finish you will feel as though you've taken a college level overview course on woodworking. The information gets deep but is decently written for the non-engineer most of the time. I feel lucky to have found this book.
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on March 10, 2003
I really recommend this book. It deals with a host of issues which can make your woodwork efforts shine or fail in a relaxed style that is simple without being simplistic. There are also plenty of illustrations and colour photos, which for me is a must.
If you are an amateur woodworker with an interest in creating durable, quality products or just interested in how and why wood behaves like it does, this is a good purchase.
What it is (and is not): The book deals with types of wood, wood identification, stresses, how wood dries, that type of thing. It is not a "how to" book - if you want a book with techniques in it, this is not the one for you.
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on May 9, 2003
I am college educated and a beginning woodcrafter, I bought this book expecting to learn about the different types of woods and their characteristics. This book covers that an a whole lot more. However, much of the book reads like a chemistry or physics text book beginning with the very basics and expanding into applications. The reading is a bit more tedius than I was expecting, but most of the material is helpful. I anticipate it will be used as a reference as my experience and education expand. Overall I would recommend the book.
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on August 16, 2001
I have been a woodworker for 25 years, through trial and error, and alot of mistakes, I have learned much. After reading this book, "Understanding Wood" I understand even more now, why furniture reacts the way it does. Any one interested in becoming better at woodworking should read this book. It is quite technical at first, but then different things start to make sense. Why did that panel split, why did I have a gap a year later. I urge you to read this book, at what ever level you are. Thank you, Mr.Hoadley.
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