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Book Review: Worked
by Joshua Klein

Review by J. Norman Reid

Joshua Klein's latest book, Worked, is a companion to his earlier volume, Joined. While Joined addressed joinery techniques, Worked is in effect a prequel whose focus is stock preparation. Worked is a slender volume that's packed with practical, down-to-earth guidance on how to work efficiently with hand tools. Its goal is simple enough: to inform readers about how hand tool woodworking can be simplified and, in the process, speeded. Klein does so by breaking down basic woodworking operations into their elemental steps and showing his preferred ways of working. In so doing, he advises his readers about where care is especially needed, and where excessive concern amounts to wasted effort.

Well-illustrated, as are all of Klein's books, this one documents each step in preparing furniture components in easy-to-digest steps. As he does, he eschews a tool-heavy approach, choosing instead to economize and achieve his results with minimal gear.

The book's organization flows in the sequence a woodworker needs to follow, taking lumber from rough plank to finished part. Stock preparation comes first. Klein begins by demonstrating breaking down stock with hand saws, showing his favored methods for both crosscutting and ripping. Once he's dimensioned boards to slightly oversize, they are treated with handplanes to flatten and smooth their surfaces. Klein smooths only the show faces, leaving the reverse sides rough, since they will not show in the finished product. This not only saves time but it makes clear which is the reference side of his boards.

Klein's method of working makes good use of the hatchet for rough dimensioning stock and he offers sound advice for its effective use to save valuable shop time.

Often, stock needs to be reduced in thickness to meet specific purposes, such as drawer sides and bottoms. Klein demonstrates how he tackles the job of resawing boards by hand to achieve his desired results. His illustration provides ample guidance for the reader to follow in his footsteps.

Edge jointing is essential when boards are to be glued into panels, and Klein shows how this process can be simplified and yet achieve sound results.

Holding work in position during operations is essential to all tasks, but as Klein describes, it can be accomplished in a multitude of ways. He favors what he calls "free work" for its simplicity and efficiency. This is accomplished in most cases by anchoring one end of a workpiece and holding the other end by hand or against the body. This method of working frees the woodworker from the need to clamp and unclamp, thus saving time. Klein uses such devices as a bench clamp for this purpose. At other times, though, rigidity is important, and then he resorts to what he calls "restrained work," that is, clamping the work for such operations as sawing dovetails. He offers options for clamping work.

The methods Klein describes span the scope of what's needed to produce furniture parts. To complete his presentation, he presents a case study of tapering a set of table legs.

Klein concludes the book with a series of suggestions for enhancing a simplified hand tool workflow. First, he bypasses cut lists and asserts that not all furniture parts need to be the same thickness, so long as the faces are maintained as the reference points. He urges building a "stash" of lumber and keeping it under good control. Labeling one's furniture parts is important, and he shows a variety of ways this has been accomplished by others. He uses templates and story sticks to guide his work as starting points. He advises varying tasks throughout the workday to help maintain a high level of energy and enthusiasm. At the same time, he encourages working on similar operations, such as cutting dovetails, in batches to simplify and speed the work.

Klein's guide offers sound advice for all hand tool woodworkers, but it will be especially valuable for those new to the practice or who aspire to this way of working wood. More experienced hand tool woodworkers may also find fresh ideas for expediting their processes while maintaining high quality. This book is a useful addition to woodworking literature and for hand tool woodworkers, in conjunction with Joined, it's well worth a look.

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at Highland Woodworking

J. Norman Reid is a woodworker, writer, photographer and woodworking instructor living in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife, a woodshop full of power and hand tools and two cats who think they are cabinetmaker's assistants. He is the author of Choosing and Using Handplanes: All You Need to Know to Get Started Planing by Hand, and co-owner of Shenandoah Tool Works. He can be reached by email at jnreid45@gmail.com.

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