Author: Marc Spagnuolo
Published by: Popular Woodworking Books
Marc Spagnuolo, aka The Wood Whisperer, is well known online via his woodwhisperer.com website, plus his podcasts, articles and videos. Marc’s book acknowledges there is currently a hand tool renaissance, but shows that it is possible to attain high craft values by combining the power of the hand with electrically powered tools and machinery. This is what ‘hybrid woodworking’ refers to.
With a pragmatic approach to woodworking Marc says, ‘Let the power tools do the grunt work and the hand tools do the finesse work’. What he’s talking about is finding and using the best tools for the job, saving time on machining and roughing out so that more energy can be spent on detailing.
Marc Spagnuolo also dispels the myth that power tool aficionados are just trying to get through processes quickly, for him there is also enjoyment in these processes; in power carving, and in accurate and efficient machining. His book therefore covers how to approach woodworking joints from this hybrid perspective.
In the chapter ‘Tools of the Hybrid Woodworker: Enhance, don’t replace’, Marc discusses how to choose between hand and power tools for certain functions. Critical points to consider include: functionality, efficiency, accuracy and good old gratification.
In ‘The Basics: Power Tools and Machines’, the author details what he uses each machine and tool for. Sounds self-explanatory, but this is about evaluating functionality and learning about ways to extend it.
‘Must-Have Hand Tools’ is the author’s take on the chisels, planes, sharpening gear, saws and spokeshaves and other hand tools you really need, bearing in mind we’re talking about a hybrid approach. There is a grey area too of course, of those tools you can’t live without, and those you might acquire later.
A techniques chapter covers the best way to achieve good results in various machining and jointing processes.
There is a lot in this book for the thoughtful woodworker to consider with its in-depth discussion of tools, machinery, methods and processes. You will benefit from Spagnuolo’s explanation of various techniques and his assessment of the best means to an end.
Although not a project book by any means, the construction of four handsome pieces is included at the end, primarily to demonstrate the hybrid approach. There’s platform bed, a Roubo workbench, a wall-hanging cabinet and an Adirondack chair, but as mentioned these are not detailed projects as such.
Although the author points out there is a kind of divide between ‘Neanderthals’ and ‘Normites’ (those who favour hand tools and those who use power tools), Marc Spagnuolo goes on to show how it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
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