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The why and how of woodworking – Michael Pekovich

The why and how of woodworking by Michael Pekovich

This book has been on my wishlist long before it was published and I was really excited when it finally arrived.

Michael Pekovich is not only one of the most inspiring furniture makers out there, but he is also Creative Director of the worldwide famous magazine Fine Woodworking. Everybody who has watched one of the videos or listened to Shop Talk Live knows he can convey his knowledge in a very clear and comprehensible way.

So my expectations of his book were very high. Read further to see if they have been met.


After a short introduction about why he has written the book, the author starts in the first chapter with his 12 rules, how he uses his limited time in the shop efficiently and to his fulfillment.

The second chapter about Design gives insights into his own design process and he encourages everybody to put more effort in the design of a furniture piece since not every piece or idea is really worth building. Mainly because the time in the shop is not endless.

Pekovich dedicates the third chapter to the bare essential hand tools for woodworkers. He also explains the use of them, how he sharpens chisels and plane blades as well as how he cuts dovetails.

The next 4 chapters are each about a different furniture type. and show wall cabinets, boxes & chests, casework and tables.

The chapter about wall cabinets shows the impressive evolution of one particular piece over time, which Pekovich has built over and over in order to reach perfection. An introduction to the Japanese art of Kumiko is also included.

After he explains the construction and build process of a small Kumiko box, there is this gorgeous Wenge tea box. The Wenge is structured and the lid is held in place with magnets in two ebony strips attached to a wrapped cord. The box is followed by one with drawers and a sliding door. Very interesting are also the clever techniques and processes for making boxes he uses and explains in this section. The chapter is round off with another two boxes for tea utensils with Kumiko.

Casework has the greatest variety of projects in it. It starts off with a simple shoe rack that also acts as a bench, built out of a sheet good. In the third time making this piece, Michael perfected it and now it has 4 drawers underneath the seat. He also tells the very authentic story of a bookcase, with which he has never been happy, that turned into a case with two drawers over time. The next piece is an oak and butternut dresser with 7 drawers. He used a lot of double tenons and a special version of the bridle joint.


The 224 pages of the book are full of high-quality pictures and beautiful graphics. It is always a pleasure to just flip through the book and take a look at the photographs. Because of his job, I guess it is no surprise that Michael wanted to do the layout of his book himself. The similarities to the Fine Woodworking Magazin are clearly visible and of the same high standard.

Target Group

This book is suited for beginners as well as experienced woodworkers.

Beginners will value the sections about hand tools because they show in a comprehensive way all necessary in order to have fun and good results in the shop.

Advanced woodworkers will discover clever jigs and processes as well as design inspiration.

Every woodworker can benefit from Pekovich’s way of making the most out of short time windows in the shop.


I really enjoyed reading this book and was especially overwhelmed by the way Michael Pekovich wrote about the design of his pieces. I will certainly incorporate some of his techniques and processes into my future builds.

Because of the beautiful pictures, it’s already worth it to let it sit on your coffee or couch table and just thump through it once in a while.

All in all, it’s definitely a must-read for every woodworker regardless of his/her level and a good start for someone who wants to get into the craft or perfect his skillset.

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