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Most kids speak with great nostalgia when the subject of Pinewood Derby cars comes up. Designs range from the speedy and elegant to the loud, and, in my case at least, ridiculous. However there’s a growing group of both parents and kids who know don’t know a thing about how to craft a racer or what’s possible to do in the first place. To remedy that, our friend Troy Thorne over at Fox Chapel Publishing recently wrote Getting Started in Pinewood Derby.

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I’m lucky that when I was a child, my parents introduced me to tools — and reading. And this weekend when I was organizing a room to convert it into a library/guest room, I came across a book that brings the two together perfectly: If I Had a Hammer by Robert Lasson. It’s a great, simple introduction for kids to what hand tools are and how to use them. In my Father’s Day post, I mentioned that my father put together a small toolkit for me, and as I re-read through Hammer, I can see how he selected tools for it.

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The Make blog reports that Evenfall Studios’ Woodworks Library has a growing collection of over 175 free books available in HTML and PDF formats. These scanned books (files can be very large) are United States public domain, and anyone in the U.S. can read and distribute them. Many are older books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, but there are also more recent books like the USDA Wood Handbook pictured above. The books cover a gamut of topics: furniture, finishing, upholstery, pattern making, hand tools, machine tools, welding, metal work, carving, turning, and more. If you can think of it, there’s probably a book in this library about it.

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Popular Mechanics published Forty Power Tools You Can Make in the early 1940’s as a thin hardback. The book is, as are most Popular Mechanics books, a collection of articles from the magazine. At a time when most machines were required for the war effort it must have been seen as a way to encourage people to keep up their hobbies in the face of scarcity.

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The CPSC this week announced the recall of almost one million home improvement books published between February 1975 and the present, including some you might find currently in Lowe’s. The problem: erroneous technical diagrams and wiring instructions “could lead consumers to incorrectly install or repair electrical wiring, posing an electrical shock or fire hazard to consumers.”

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The Nicholson File Company (now owned by Cooper Tools) used to put out a pamphlet called “File Filosophy.” The book contains a short history of files, how files are made, types of files, terminology, and most importantly, the variety of methods employed when filing. The application of filing to a variety of tasks is covered, including several pages on sharpening saws and other tools. Rotary files (burs) are covered as well. They printed many editions of the pamphlet over the years. I figured it would be easy to come by, but I had to use my Google-fu to come up with some links.

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The American Machinist Shop Note Book is a collection of articles selected from the pages of American Machinist magazine by its associate editor E.A. Suverkrop and published in 1919. The book is yet another (although in a sense one of the first) collection of a variety of shop tips, tricks, jigs and fixtures, work methods, etc. Chapters include Drafting and Design, Patterns and Foundry, Forging and Tempering, Drilling, Lathe work, Milling, Planer and Shaper work, Tool Making (in the machinist sense), Dies, Gages, Grinding, Boring, Gearing, Screw Machine, and “Shop Tools, Appliances and Expedients.”

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Complete Guitar Repair by Hideo Kamimoto is a good primer on all that is involved in the “set-up, restoration and construction of the acoustic and electric guitar.” The book begins with details of the construction of various guitars, then moves on to a chapter on general repair information such as the workshop, tools, clamps, glues, wood, and strings.

Then we get a chapter on guitar adjustments, a chapter on the action and scale including tuning. Later chapters focus on specific areas such as the peghead, machine head, neck and fingerboard (with fret calculations), frets, fretting, the bridge, etc. Then the book moves on to repair, such as cracks and missing pieces, touch up and refinishing. A final chapter discusses electric guitar pickups and controls.

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A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane is a short, interesting overview and history of different types of early hand tools as found in (obviously) early America. The book has well-done black-and-white illustrations of various tool types by chapter, such as Axes, Hammers, Draw Knives, and other typical early hand tools. It’s not an exhaustive reference for the collector but a guide to familiarize yourself on the types and use of such tools — a perfect stocking stuffer and as affordable as a paperback new on Amazon, for $8.95, although you can find used copies for much less. You can check out a limited preview on Google Books to see if it’s up your alley.

Via Amazon

 

Another one of those books that I can’t believe we haven’t covered yet is Guy Lautard’s The Machinist’s Bedside Reader series. So far he’s written three volumes in this series. The books are a compendium of projects, instruction, and stories from the eclectic mind of Guy Lautard. There’s too much in the books to clearly lay out here, but the first volume has everything from an article on a drill sharpening jig for tiny bits to making a sling swivel base for a tube-fed rifle. Some of the articles deal with gunsmithing subjects, others with precision work above and beyond what’s normally done in the small shop. The books are, as the title implies, excellent bedside reading to fertilize the brain for future projects.

You can buy the book directly from Lautard himself, or from a number of sellers such as Amazon.

Guy Lautard [Website]
Via Amazon