The Best Carpentry Books

Recommended books and carpentry manuals

This page contains the best carpentry books I've bought so far that are worth recommending. Some during my apprenticeship, others over the years as I've come up against new challenges.

Carpentry Manuals

Carpentry manuals are a must for anyone serious about becoming a competent trades person, especially if you are new to Carpentry and joinery. They are the best books for apprentices, packed with useful carpentry information and illustrations covering all the basics. They are in order starting with the best;

Carpentry and Joinery: Books 1 & 2 Job Knowledge 3rd Ed.

My parents purchased the earlier editions of these carpentry books for me over ten years ago whilst I was an apprentice. They proved invaluable all through the three years I spent studying my carpentry and joinery NVQ's and I still refer to them to this day. These revised editions are in line with current legislation, NVQ requirements and have fresh, up to date and easy to understand illustrations.

The first book provides the you with the foundation for practical joinery, on-site carpentry, & wood machining skills.

The second book covers the practical skills required to pass your NVQ assessments. These are an excellent resource for anyone new to the trade, who is studying for their NVQ or even for practicing joiners! When I wrote this they were rated 5/5 on Amazon.co.uk

If you're on a budget like I was all through my apprenticeship, you might be able to get them cheaper pre-owned.

Manual of First and Second Fixing Carpentry

This Carpentry manual is in my van behind the seat! It begins with the fundamental skills required within a domestic construction setting from the tools needed and how to care for them (there's a great chapter on how to sharpen tools) to reading technical drawings. It goes on to cover all the different first fix (framing carpentry) activities with detailed instructions written in an easy to understand language before doing the same for second fix carpentry (finish carpentry). A great all round carpentry guide, perhaps not quite as thorough as the two above but still well recommended. Again, it gets 5/5 stars.

Carpentry & Joinery NVQ Level 2 Student Book, 2nd edition

This is a priceless resource for apprentices working through their NVQ's. It's full of clear illustrations and tests after each unit so you can easily track your progress whilst working through the carpentry book and revise the areas you're unsure in.

Finish carpentry books

These finish carpentry books have proved a valuable resources since completing my apprenticeship and working for myself. One of my favorite aspects of the job is adding the finishing touches during the second fix stage. Sometimes all you need for that little light bulb in the head to go off is a quick flick through one of these and a potential banana skin can be avoided.

Finish carpentry

I ripped everything out from ceilings to floorboards and everything in between, so I had a blank canvass to start the renovation from. But one of the things I've loved doing most in my own home is upgrading all the decorative mouldings. I've made plinth blocks, fitted taller skirting boards, wider architraves with cornice over the top and picture rails.

This carpentry book helps with installing everything like that and wainscoting too.
If you click on the amazon link above you can actually read through a few pages of the book on-line and get an idea of what's inside.

Here's trim and finish carpentry

This well illustrated carpentry book in full colour has lots of information about measuring/marking, tools, finishing (filling, painting, sanding, staining etc.), and step by step guides for jobs like crown moulding, shoe, base, chair/picture rails, wainscoting and loads more. If you click on the link you can actually look through some of the pages to get an idea of the content.

Finish carpentry trim work

This is a brilliant carpentry book, much more for the professional click on the ink above to view it at amazon and look through some of the pages to see what's inside. There's everything from planning and material calculations right through to sanding up at the end it's a really good book.

Loft conversion books

I bought quite a few loft conversion books before starting my own loft conversion, even though I had worked for a loft conversion specialist for over five years and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted from the space.

I wanted to be 'armed' with as much information as possible in case there were any good ideas out there I could copy or adapt and implement in my own home. When you're you're spending thousands on a loft conversion a few quid on a book is nothing compared to the ideas you get from it.

As it turned out, there were quite a few! These are some of the better ones I bought, in order of how helpful they were.

Loft conversions, by John Coutts

I paid nearly £40 for this book when I bought it from Amazon. It's expensive, but well worth the money.

I'd say it's a must for anyone looking to carry out their own DIY loft conversion from the planning stage right through to completion. There are detailed chapters on legal procedures like planning permission, design, timber/steel beam design,

Haynes loft conversion manual

Haynes are more famous for their brilliant vehicle manuals (I think my dad owns every single one..) and so I bought this based on their reputation. It didn't disappoint. It's currently rated 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon so I'm not the only one who got a lot from it. First it will tell you how to determine whether or not your loft is suitable for conversion. From there it covers everything, from design through to completion and even how to find reliable contractors to do the work.

Probably the most comprehensive guide available, they even go further and tell you how to access a website with example plans & literature used by the professionals, building regulation info and more.

Roofing Carpentry Books

Also among my collection are a few roofing carpentry books. Some are about traditional cut roofs and others cover trussed roof construction in more detail.

Roof Construction and Loft Conversion

Comprehensive guide to cut and truss roof construction with easy to understand detailed drawings. Less of a book for DIYers more for serious roofing carpenters and loft converters. For loft conversions the book covers early attics, development, floors and ceilings, cottages, utilising wasted space, conversion possibilities, roof types, letting in light, valleys, access and more.This book is a big help if you need to design a roof to build. I have an earlier book but this is a fourth edition and so has been revised and updated since mine.

Carpenter's Metric Roofing Ready Reckoner

One book I definitely couldn't survive for very long without is my little blue ready reckoner.

Although only small, its earned its £6 cost a hundred times over because its saved me so much TIME and MONEY..

It's basically a book full of rafter span tables. All you need to do is measuring the span of the roof, take away the thickness of the ridge and halve it to find the span of a single rafter. Look up the table for the roof pitch angle you want and it tells you the length of the rafter. Doesn't just do common rafters but hips, valleys and the jacks etc. You can basically cut a whole roof on the ground with this book and then fit it all together! It's currently got 5 out of 5 stars.

Goss's Roofing Ready Reckoner

Another great one I have is Goss's Roofing Ready Reckoner This book contains tables with the metric cutting and sizing tables needed when calculating timber roof member lengths. Instead of just tables/angles this has photos and useful information about warm/cold roofs, plates, strapping tools etc. These are the books I refer to whenever I'm starting a roof after not having done one for a while, they refresh my memory!

Agree/disagree? Have any great carpentry books not mentioned here that you want to recommend? Post it below!!



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