I’ll admit it: I haven’t even finished the first book in the Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking
series yet. And I suppose halfway through a book is the wrong time to be writing reviews and making recommendations. But hell with conventions.
After 55 pages I feel like this is the manual that should have come with my wood shop. Danish craftsman, teacher, and author Tage Frid introduces us to the properties of wood as a building material and how it reacts to tooling, drying and other stresses. He introduces us to basic hand tools including a variety of saws, hand planes, and measuring tools and explains in extremely simple terms when each is appropriate to use. Ever the pragmatist, Frid covers essential power tools as well.
What I like about Tage Frid is that he approached woodworking from the position of a master craftsman who wasn’t threatened by modern technology. He focused on the finished product and saw no benefit in selling a “hand-crafted” piece of inferior quality instead of a high-quality piece made with power tools.
Even still, taking the journey through the first 50 pages of this book is incredibly humbling. Frid teaches us not only how to use hand tools to rip, crosscut, joint and plane stock but how to do it safely, and how to care for those tools as well. Then he brings us full-circle back to performing the same operations on motor-driven equipment.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Tage Frid is Roy Underhill had Roy been molded by apprenticeship and the realities of industry rather than the luxury of intellectualism and idealism he enjoyed in a university atmosphere and a career driven by television. Underhill continues to teach the woodworking craft as it existed before the invention of electricity. He’s still a hero of mine and I think the history and skills he passes down are important. Roy’s knowledge and philosophy will always have a place with those among us who crave a hobby that lets us feel closer to the natural world and more like the creatures that nature crafted us to be.
But every once in a while, someone just need a thing built and–as Frid says–“he can make it with his teeth or a machine, it is still the final product that counts.”
Stay tuned for part two when I actually finish the book!