WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Your First Workshop

Your First Workshop
by Aime' Ontario Fraser

Taunton Press: 2005
paperback, 156 pp., $19.95
ISBN 1-56158-688-9

     The author calls this one "a practical guide to what you really need," and if you are just starting out in woodworking, being confused about what to buy first is a common problem. Aime' Fraser bases her book on the idea that every woodworker graduates through stages of development, and the shop evolves with them. She begins with what is essential, including a decent bench, measuring and marking tools, safety gear, some clamps, screwdrivers, a circular saw and drill, plus a shop vacuum.
     From there she advances through add-ons to make a shop more basic, truly efficient, and finally what she calls "well rounded," with non-essential machinery that a dedicated woodworker uses in a complete shop. "Saving these tools until last," the author says, "assumes you've gained the experience to understand the difference between a shortcut and a wrong turn."
     At the start of each section is a photo explanation of what the added tools can do, with advice on features to look for and what to avoid when buying them. She presents several sidebars of information to explain a variety of uses for the circular saw, the sliding square, and various bench accessories.
     Particularly useful for beginners, this book excels at de-mystifying the ongoing process of setting up shop to do woodworking. One thing I noticed about Ms. Fraser's progressive shop development: the intial photos made room for an automobile with machinery as a work-around. Her well-rounded shop at book's end had a plywood floor in the garage and a center post given over to odds and ends storage between the tablesaw and the dust collector unit. The car had been exiled. Beginners beware.

. . . Barb Siddiuqi