I got The Complete Illustrated Guide to Joinery a few years ago, but it’s such a great book I thought I’d give it a review here. Written by Gary Rogowski and published by Taunton Press, this is a beautiful book just to look at and hold. Page after page is filled with crisp color photography alongside clean and clear text. But look deeper and you’ll also find a wealth of information.
This book attempts to break down and categorize many common types of joinery. First, into the two basic systems of box joinery and frame joinery, and then into a number of subcategories, such as mortises, miter joints, lap joints, and dovetails. Each chapter defines and describes a number of related joints, along with numerous variations and deviations. It then steps through a number of methods to create each one. For many joints, this means it gives a method to build it out of either hand tools or power tools depending on which you prefer or what the situation calls for.
In addition to the photographs generously peppered throughout, Rogowski also intersperses a number of diagrams and illustrations to give further clarity to how these joints come together.
Though some of these joints may look fancy and complicated, the joints in this book are really the more common workhouse joints used to solve the majority of carpentry problems. You won’t find the extremely complex and decorated types of joints used in previous centuries, or any of the exotic joinery solutions of Japanese and Chinese carpenters. This book deals almost entirely with joints where two pieces of wood meet; it’s when three pieces of wood come together that joinery starts getting really interesting (this book does have a few such joints toward the back, so it is not completely devoid of them).
Still, I love this book. It’s the kind of book you can buy and learn a lot from, then let sit on your bookshelf looking pretty for a few years, then pick up again and realize you still have a lot to learn.