Carpenters know a good set of tools is vital to get the job done right, but it’s just as important to have a library of books for reference. It’s impossible to remember everything about every aspect of construction, so having a place to go for a refresher can come in handy. Many people swear by YouTube for learning new skills or brushing up on old ones, but internet access can be spotty on a job site, especially when there’s new construction.
Having a few books in the back of your work van means you’ll always have the answers you need without worrying about reception or roaming charges. Clients and bosses are less likely to get worked up over someone poring over a book than tapping on a phone; a book with “construction” on the cover can’t be mistaken for Facebooking!
The books you have in your library will depend on the type of carpentry you do most often; a roofer won’t have much use for a book on cabinetry. When you build your library, ask people on job sites for suggestions and look into recommendations at online book retailers. You won’t need an extensive library, just a good selection to cover most everyday situations. These suggested titles cover a wide variety of skills and can be found on Amazon.
The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling by Charlie Wing
Known as the authoritative, go-to reference for people in residential design and construction, this covers choosing systems and materials for every part of home construction. New chapters include creative storage solutions and green building practices.
Carpentry, Fourth Edition by Floyd Vogt
Easy to follow diagrams and presentations show readers the basics of building plans, footings and foundations, framing, interior and exterior surfaces, flooring, cabinets and much more. The step by step processes shown in the book make it easy to refresh skills or teach them to others. This edition includes references to the International Residential Code and mentions construction styles that vary depending on local environmental factors.
Graphic Guide to Frame Construction by Rob Thallon
Hundreds of drawings explain wall and roof framing, footings and foundations, subfloors other framing projects. It also covers best practices for energy efficient building and ways to control moisture during construction.
Roof Framing by Marshall Gross
This book walks readers through framing any gable, Dutch, Tudor, California, gazebo, shed or gambrel roof. Gross shows how to use a calculator to figure rafters in seconds, even those that aren’t on tables, so builders aren’t limited in their choices of lengths and pitches.
Working Alone – Tips & Techniques for Solo Building by John Carroll
Small construction crews or DIY types don’t always have an extra set of hands when they need one. It’s not always possible to wait for help or hire extra staff, so knowing tricks to keep the work going are invaluable. This book is packed with expert tips and techniques for helping one person manage tools and materials.
Building Construction Before Mechanization by John Fitchen
This book explains construction techniques used in the days before rechargeable batteries and treated lumber. Fitchen shows readers how ancient builders used wedges, slings, ropes and ladders to build some of the most famous construction projects in history, like the Pyramids in Egypt and Rome’s aqueducts, as well as igloos and other nomadic homes. It doesn’t teach many skills that can be used on a modern job site, but it’s a very interesting look at how far techniques have come over the centuries.
Reference books only take up a small amount of shelf space in your work van and are invaluable if you run into a strange framing angle or need to adjust to a smaller crew after an injury. Add to it over time and you’ll have a library that’s the envy of the rest of your crew.
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