WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Jim Tolpin's Woodworking Wit & Wisdom

Jim Tolpin's Woodworking Wit & Wisdom
by Jim Tolpin

Popular Woodworking Books: 2004
Paperback, 112 pp., $19.99
ISBN 1-55870-719-0

     Jim Tolpin, woodworker, teacher, author, has spent over thirty years learning and sharing his knowledge of woodworking. He says he wrote his new book because he didn't learn from shop classes or TV personalities, but from apprenticed cabinet makers and boat builders. Here are 60 basic lessons from the trade, highlighted with terrific cartoon drawings by Will McDonnell.
     The best way to illustrate the book's appeal is with an example in the author's own words. "It's true and I can prove it," Tolpin says. "The space shuttle's design was based on the width of two horse's asses." After a long tale dating back to Roman chariots rolling into England, he concludes, "This story expresses one of my most fundamental lessons of the trade: you don't need measurements to build things out of wood."
     This book is a delight, full of shop built jigs, design issues, planing advice, clamping set ups, and wisdom. His final lesson, #60, is, "You will never, ever completely know what you are doing. Which is fine with me. If I completely knew what I was doing, I would be bored to death."
     Tolpin lists his top twenty books, with comments on each, plus his list of top twenty must-have tools, several of which may surprise you. His top tool runners-up include a water mister to get floating dust out of the shop before varnishing, and Carhartt overalls. Go figure. He says the overalls have so many pockets he can carry more goodies than in a shop apron, and then lists what is currently in his pockets, including one uneaten half of a Kit Kat bar.
     This is a short book review. I just don't want to give any more of this gem of a book away. Spend the twenty bucks and enjoy a tremendously good read, along with a great deal of valuable guidance.

. . . Barb Siddiqui