One of my new customers recently asked me if there are any good books about the art and science of wood finishing that can greatly streamline the learning curve.

She had been spending a lot of time searching the web for reliable, practical and proven tips and procedures that would get her off on the right foot in her new studio.

We both agreed the internet is rampant with “Experts” who offer subjective answers to complex questions about methods, techniques and steadfast standards in wood finishing.

With so many social media sites promoting success as the press of the key, I felt obligated to steer my customer to the following books as rock-solid references.

Here are my three “Go To” wood finishing books (for beginners and pros alike)…

Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing, by Jeff Jewitt

First published in 2004, this book is, without a doubt, a “must have” in your library.
Mr. Jewitt — a highly regarded and well-established authority on the processes of wood finishing, developed this book with Taunton Press as a thorough, well-illustrated guide to the procedures, techniques and critical steps to follow when approaching a new or restoration finishing process.

Wood Finishing Books: Recommendation 1

This tutorial can be applied to the use of water and solvent based finishes, proving that procedures for either finish format do not radically change.

While some of the product brands in my 2004 edition are now out-of-date, the core of the information shared in this volume remains relevant to this day. I recommend this book to every wood finishers: beginners to experts.

Spray Finishing Made Simple, by Jeff Jewitt

This is another important book to use as a rock-solid step off point, also by Mr. Jewitt and Taunton Press. Spray Finishing provides simple, thorough guidance on the basics of how to use a spray gun, which type of spray equipment to select, and how to set-up your spray booth area.

Wood Finishing Books: Recommendation 2

Other topics focus on the starting points of spraying clear coats, pigmented finishes stain applications. This 100+ page guide will take a lot of guesswork out of your venture into the world of spray finishing.

Furniture Finishing Decorating and Patching, by Albert Pattou and Clarence Vaughn

Published by Frederick J. Drake & Co., this is one book I return to time and again when I am working on a refinishing/restoration project. It dates back to 1944 and is long out of print, but it offers timeless instruction on the art of furniture repair – especially when working on pieces that qualify for the antique and bespoke furniture market.

Wood Finishing Books: Recommendation 3

This book provides the bedrock procedures when wood finishing was strictly a solvent-based process. All of the procedures in this classic refer to the use of nitrocellulose lacquers, alkyd varnishes, japan driers and alcohol dye stains. Wood graining and stenciling is discussed in detail, as is the art and science of wood patching and repair.

The reader is given well-constructed instructions that remain relevant in the modern finishing shop and studio. If you can find a copy of this book – buy it!

Books: the Original Mobile Devices…Completely Wireless and They Never Need Charging

Taking these three books from my bookshelf to discuss each with my customer confirms that well written, illustrated guides are still a go-to source for qualified, quality information.

I hope these books help point you in the right direction along your ongoing wood finishing journey…and of course I’d love to hear which books you rely on.

What are your top-3 “go to” books on wood finishing? Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying in the comments section below.