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Woodshop Library

MAKING WOOD SIGNS, by Patrick Spielman, is a revised edition with new information about the use of plastics and CNC routers, along with a selection of alphabet patterns, plaque designs and decorative art. This is required reading for any aspiring signmaker. First, you'll learn the basics with an extensive overview of the materials for sign making, followed by a course on design and layout. Instruction is provided for making signs entirely with a scroll saw or band saw. Carving, routing and even sandblasting — or a combination of two or more techniques — are also covered. The routing instruction includes straight-line, template and freehand techniques. The new chapter on CNC routers is short, but has basic information about machine options and software. The final chapters cover finishing techniques and installation. The 224-page softcover sells for $14.95. Contact: Sterling Publishing Co., 387 Park Ave. S., New York, NY10016-8810. Tel: 212-532-7160.

THE COMMERCIAL WOODS OF AFRICA, by Peter Phongphaew, profiles 90 woods from the African continent that are becoming increasingly available to the Western market. It is intended to fill the information void, and succeeds on a rudimentary level. Each profile includes a full-color photograph of the wood's grain pattern; a list of botanical, commercial and vernacular names; a map indicating the tree's habitat in Africa; and descriptive text about the tree itself, the qualities of its wood, and its common uses and applications. There are also mathematical values detailing the wood's various physical properties such as density, durability, bending strength and shrinkage. Phongphaew, owner of Global Exotic Hardwood consulting firm, intends to write a companion volume on South American timber. The 206-page hardcover sells for $49.95. Contact: Linden Publishing, Inc., 2006 S. Mary, Fresno, CA93721. Tel: 800-345-4447.

WOODWORKING FOR DUMMIES, by Jeff Strong, offers information for the novice woodworker in the tradition of this popular book series. There are better introductory woodworking books available, but this is certainly suitable for those with short attention spans. The pictures and diagrams are the best features, while the step-by-step instructions for using tools typically include "turn on saw." Then again, the book is written for dummies. There's some rather useful information on the features to look for when buying tools, and for making essential shop jigs and fixtures. Plans for building a bookcase, tables and cabinets are included. Other topics include choosing wood, setting up a workshop, joinery, sanding and finishing. The 356-page softcover sells for $21.99. Contact: Wiley Publishing Inc., 111 River St., Hoboken, NJ07030. Tel: 877-762-2974.

BUILD YOUR OWN CUSTOM WORKBENCH, by Mark Corke, offers 13 project designs with step-by-step instructions. There's only one real workbench included, but the other projects are well-conceived and suitable for most shops. Two of the best are the miter saw and assembly benches. The traditional workbench project should also stand up to years of wear and tear. The cut lists, hardware needs and drawings are provided, along with how-to photos and captions. The construction techniques include dowel and dovetail joinery. Many of the projects can be built with hand tools, though several require a router and router table. The other projects include a carver's vice, collapsible and fold-down benches, grinding bench, metalworking bench, tool tote, sawhorses and shaving horse. The 128-page softcover sells for $24.99. Contact: Popular Woodworking Books, F&W Publications Inc., 4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH45236. Tel: 800-448-0915.

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