Tools of the Trade: The Art and Craft of Carpentry

Cover, Tools of the Trade: The Art and Craft of CarpentryAuthor(s): Jeff Taylor, Rich Iwasaki

Publisher: Chronicle Books

ISBN: 0811812731

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Hardcover, 176 pages
Publication date: November 1996

How-To Editor’s Recommended Book, 02/01/97:
Let me be very clear about this: GET THIS BOOK. You may have an interest in hand tools and carpentry, or you may not. But this is a lovingly written book by a gifted storyteller and wit, and a damn entertaining read! It is about interacting with tools, but it is also the author’s memoir of delightful characters he has known: teachers, mentors, and personal heroes. Much more than a how-to book, it is about a love for humanity, good humor, and creativity. It reads like a novel–and a good one!

In the bestselling tradition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, these refreshing essays from master carpenter Jeff Taylor illuminate the spiritual aspects of working with hand tools. This is an elegant and engaging book for anyone who enjoys building, fixing, and working with hand tools. 25 full-color photos.

The author, Jeff Taylor , 07/07/96:
If you’ve ever picked up an old plane and felt that it knew more than you did, you know the author’s question: Did that inanimate object just speak to me? Twenty years as a working carpenter have convinced him that he barely scratched the surface of the mysteries of tools. They seem to have a life of their own, little secrets they can pass along if you listen hard. There are 26 essays in this book, each highlighting a different tool, illustrated by the photographs of Rich Iwasaki.

Customer Comments

from Clarks Summit, PA , 11/23/97, rating=10:
Wonderful essays! Tools are almost a metaphor for the users. Who would have thought that anyone could write more than a scant paragraph about a hammer? Jeff Taylor not only wrote an entire chapter, but made it so intriguing that I read every word (often out loud to whoever was in the room), and turned eagerly to the next chapter and tool. I gave it to my husband when I reluctantly finished; he ordered three more for gifts. Yes, it’s a book about tools, but it is also a book about teachers, not only of the craft of carpentry, but of the more difficult art of coping with the foibles of human nature. Taylor’s prose leaps from resounding metaphor to the language of the street in an engagingly warm and humorous fashion as he introduces his readers to each tool and all the mysteries and wonders they hold. Mundane objects like Yankee drills and framing squares take on personality when seen through the author’s eyes (and through the incredible glamor of the book’s photography). Glamour? Hand tools? Yes! Only halfway through the book, I conceived a powerful craving for a rosewood level — and I am not a carpenter. Not only are we made privy to the secrets of each tool, but also to the secrets of the myriad characters who instructed him in his craft. And these teachers are definitely characters, masterfully sketched.Crusty, perhaps, sometimes even shifty. But they knew their trade, and after a lifetime of working with their hands, they knew fifty tricks with a hammer and other things the home dabbler has never dreamt of. They knew their tools. So does Jeff Taylor — now. Even if you’ve never held a hammer in your life, you’ll appreciate this book. It’s a great read, and a must for the woodworkers among your acquaintance for Christmas. Buy several, because you’ll keep loaning yours out, and it won’t come back.

A reader, 01/05/97, rating=10:
Funny, thoughtful essays that happen to be about carpentry. I’m a woman and I don’t build ANYTHING, but I bought this for my boyfriend and ended up reading it all the way through. Jeff Taylor is a marvelous person and it’s great fun to spend time with him as he discusses the joy of building things. It’s sort of Zen and the Art of Carpentry.