‘The Minimalist Woodworker’ a Great Way to Start

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This post is way overdue. One of the books I’ve been itching to read is Vic Tesolin’s “The Minimalist Woodworker” (Spring House Press), a newly published guide for woodworkers looking to explore the craft without a shed-load of tools.

Vic, who works for Lee Valley Tools by day, is one of my favorite guys in the craft. He has a no-bull-pucky way of approaching life, work and the craft. And my hope was that “The Minimalist Woodworker” would capture Vic’s spirit and his voice. And it does.

The 152-page book is a great single-point introduction to the craft. It skips all the hand-wringing parts of the craft (waterstones or oil? Band saw or table saw?) and just lays out in as few words as possible what you need to get started. Beginners don’t need a fire hose of information to build a workbench – just a good plan using simple tools and straightforward techniques.

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The first 60 pages of the book introduce you to the tools and how to set up and use them. Vic lists 27 tools as the core kit with another eight that are “nice to have.” It’s a good list – one I’d be happy to pass onto a friend looking to get started.

The remainder of the book is about building the projects that will allow you to enjoy hand-tool woodworking in a space as small as the nook under the stairs. Vic begins with building a sawbench and a “bent” a sawhorse-like buddy to the sawbench.

The other projects, all built from common materials, are equally useful: a shooting board/bench hook, a mallet, and English-style workbench and a hanging cabinet for your tools. The projects include clear drawings, a cutlist and lots of step photos to guide the reader through each operation.

If you’ve ever met Vic, you know that he doesn’t mince words or waste time. And this book is like having a casual conversation with him. He calls out any bunk (or deftly sidesteps it), and he doesn’t use 30 words when four will do. You can read this book in one sitting – a point I greatly appreciate.

I’m often asked what books would be ideal for a beginning hand-tool woodworker. And we publish a few of them, including Robert Wearing’s “The Essential Woodworker.” But I’ve now added a new book to that list of highly recommended “first books.” And if you are at the beginning of the craft or know someone who is, “The Minimalist Woodworker” is a great place to start.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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11 Responses to ‘The Minimalist Woodworker’ a Great Way to Start

  1. Rachael Boyd says:

    overly wordy books are just no good for me. I like simple straight forward writing. Style does add a lot to the enjoyment. I love your stuff. also Goss did a good job for putting together a guide for the teacher’s to follow( the one I use). I will be getting this one for my mind and shelf.

  2. matthewbosnick says:

    This looks like a good book; I’ll have to add it to my ever-growing to-read list and then to my growing library.

    By the way, Chris, I’m a few chapters into ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book.’ I’m usually a fast reader, but this book is like a good steak: I savor every bite.

    Well done. (Not the steak…the book.)

  3. Trey Keifer says:

    This is exactly the kind of book I’ve been looking for. A lot of us are without access to a workshop or limited on the amount of tools we can constantly move around, but we still have a strong desire to learn. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

  4. Eli says:

    Yes sir, this was the first woodworking book I purchased when I got started a few months ago. Enough background to get going and enough information to digger deeper on your own timeline.

  5. nubthumb says:

    After WIA, I’d put Vic in my top 3 with Chris and Roy in my list of woodworking teachers. (No particular order so as not to expand heads or hurt feelings) Like Chris and Roy, he knows his stuff, gets his point across, and is extremely entertaining.

  6. Brian Clites says:

    I ordered a copy the moment I read this review, and it arrived yesterday. (Never underestimate the power of the Schwarz.) Made it through about half the book before nodding off last night, and I agree that it is superbly written.

  7. Tim Raleigh says:

    …I was curious and looked up the other titles on your shelf… Art of Mitring, Drawing shortcuts and The Shepards life and American Furniture 2013. All very interesting. Thanks.

  8. Tim Raleigh says:

    oops, that would be “Shepherd’s” not shepards.

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