Joel Moskowitz’s list of books on furniture and woodworking is great. Every one is a classic worthy of your time. Moskowitz took the words out of my mouth with regard to Eric Sloane’s A Museum of Early American Tools: I read and reread that book when I was a tween until I had it memorized. I think we got it as a gift for our family membership in the Museum of Natural History, which makes it easily the most influential free book I’ve read. And, as the excerpt above shows, Sloane’s art is astonishing.
These books, and particularly the handbooks like Nicholson’s book, filled a gap in the early nineteenth century. The apprenticeship system was dying and there was a lot of practical information that kids weren’t going to learn in school. Assuming basic literacy and a desire to master a topic, books like this were invaluable to young craftsmen.