Antique Woodworking Tools
Their Craftsmanship from the Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century

David R. Russell
with Photographs by James Austin
Foreword by David Linley
Introduction by John Adamson



Press Reviews

Other Reviews




Other Contributors


How to order

Where to find the book

This book is now out of print
David Stanley Auctions may have a copy in their next auction

Published by
John Adamson
in association with
Bernard J. Shapero
Rare Books

November 2010

528 pages
1556 entries
935 illustrations
mostly in colour
and an appendix of
269 plane-iron marks

13 3/8 × 10 in.
(339 × 254 mm)

Cloth £90.00



Obtainable from:
John Adamson
90 Hertford Street, Cambridge CB4 3AQ, United Kingdom
e-mail: Book orders
or from any good bookseller
Click here for a list of stockists and library suppliers

Distributors in the United States and Canada:
ACC Art Books



Amassed over nearly forty years, the David Russell collection brings together a stunning array of edge and boring tools from Britain, continental Europe and North America, thus providing a broad survey of hand tool-making from prehistory to today. All the tools are illustrated with James Austin’s photographs, with details and marks shown where appropriate. Special attention is given to planes, and the great British makers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are discussed in depth. The book will appeal to a wide range of readers, including collectors, craftsmen, industrial archaeologists and social historians, as well as historians of material culture.

‘The excellent photographs and descriptions do more than justice to one of the most outstanding collections I have ever seen.’ The late Roy Arnold

David Linley in his Foreword writes:

‘[Russell] is to be congratulated on amassing with unerring eye such a fascinating array of tools ... His is a scholarly account of a collection that through its breadth and depth gives remarkable insights into the tools that were used to make furniture, sash-windows, roofs, wheels, coaches and barrels and more; in short, that have helped shaped man’s material culture over many hundreds of years.

‘I would like to commend David Russell on this fascinating history of woodworking tools. The book shows clearly the kinds of tools that enabled craftsmen to make the most beautiful pieces of furniture and other items.’


Press Reviews

‘Over the past 35 years [David Russell] has amassed probably the world’s largest collection of antique woodworking tools from the Stone Age to the 20th century ... The sumptuous catalogue ... weighs in at 9 lb and might require a carpenter’s bench rather than a mere lectern ... The catalogue not only lists and lavishly illustrates 1556 items, but also makers’ stamps and associated material ...’

Huon Mallalieu, The Times, November 27, 2010 (full article)

‘The Russell collection volume [is] intended to glamorize unsung innovations.’

Eve M. Kahn, New York Times, September 13, 2013 (full article)

‘Lavish, stunning, outstanding, magnificent ... superlatives just don't do justice to this book.’

Carl Duguay, Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement
(full article)

‘This is a superb achievement, with more than 1,500 tools beautifully photographed by James Austin’.

Huon Mallalieu, Country Life, December 8, 2010 (full article)

‘The book not only celebrates the collection but is considered the most serious work of reference of its kind to date and destined to become a “bible” in its field’.

Sheffield Telegraph, December 9, 2010 (full article)

‘Several years in the making, the large-format book is loaded with great photos from the Stone Age to more modern times. I have just started reading the text but all indications are that this one is a winner’.

Clarence Blanchard, The Fine Tool Journal, vol. 60, no. 3, winter 2010 (full article)

‘Anyone who appreciates the beauty of antique tools needs to have a copy’.

Jim Gehring, The Fine Tool Journal, vol. 62, no. 2, fall, 2012
(full article)

‘It is the most impressive record of tools I have ever seen.’

Frank Ham, The Tool Chest (Journal of the Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia), no. 108, May, 2013

‘Now a new lavishly produced book ... [it] showcase[s] every item in [David Russell’s] collection: nearly 2,000 tools, including shaft-hole axes, framed saws, chisels, braces and planes, many works of art in their own right’.

Mark Brown, Guardian January 5, 2011 (full article)

‘I think that in years to come we woodworkers and historians will be indebted to David Russell for assembling this amazing collection and preserving it for future generations’.

Colin Sullivan, Furniture and Cabinetmaking, no. 178, April 2011 (full article)

‘David Russell’s book is a vehicle for sharing his fabulous collection with the world. His unerring eye has sought out the most interesting tools available over the past 40 years, resulting in one of the world’s greatest collections of antique woodworking tools ... [The] book will delight all tool collectors and woodworkers as well as everyone having an interest in how things were made in the past, and the tools that made it all possible. This book belongs in every serious collector’s library’.

John G. Wells, The Gristmill, no. 143, June 2011 (full article) and The Chronicle, Volume 64 - no. 3, September 2011 (full article)

‘David Russell’s book has the most splendid photographs, and at the end of the book is a very useful illustrated list of makers’ marks ... production standards are of a very high order and so the quality and variety of the photographs make the book good value; for anyone interested it will be a very good investment and a superb reference book’.

Treve Rosoman, Furniture History Society Newsletter, no. 183, August 2011 (full article)

‘This is a truly huge work ... and is quite unrivalled in the size and quality of its illustrations. [James Austin] has managed to capture the elusive qualities of balance, texture and patina which make the finest tools a pleasure to handle, frequently lifting them into the realm of folk art ’.

Mark Bridge, Antiques Trade Gazette, October 22, 2011 (full article)

‘impressive collection ... ’.

Society for Industrial Archaeology Newsletter, Summer, 2011

‘This very special book displays [Russell’s] amazing collection ... [an] outstanding publication’.

The Tool Chest (Journal of the Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia), no. 106, November, 2012

‘Een fantastisch boek voor de liefhebber ... Alle instrumenten vinden uitgebreid bespreking, met name de schaven’ [A fanatastic book for the enthusiast ... All tools are widely discussed, especially the planes.]

Het Houtblad, April 2011 (full article)

‘Stuk voor stuk zijn het schitterende en duidelijke foto’s van het mooiste gereedschap dat er te vinden is. Het is werkelijk een lust voor het oog ... Een aanrader!’ [Here one after another are beautiful and clear photographs of some of the best tools to be found. It is truly a delight to the eye ... Highly recommended!]

Hein Coolen, Gildebrief: Ambacht & Gereedschap, 2011 (full article)

‘Every person who has picked up a tool has wondered how it came into being and just who thought of such a cunning way of making complicated tasks simple. Here are the answers.’

The Connexion, January 2012 (full article)

‘L’événement de l’année au niveau livre sur les outils est à coup sûr : « Antique Woodworking Tools » de David Russell. Depuis le (grand) « Livre de l’outil » d’André Velter et de Marie-José Lamothe, rien n’avait été fait d’aussi somptueux : mise en page soignée, photos irréprochables, splendeur des outils présentés, large commentaire sur chaque objet poussant même la rigueur jusqu’à indiquer la date et le lieu d’achat ... Un superbe cadeau à s’offrir ou se faire offrir’.

Daniel Boucard, Le Toupin-net : La lettre de l’amateur de l’art populaire no. 12, February 2011 (full article)

‘Depuis le livre de W.L. Goodman paru en 1964, il n’y avait aucun ouvrage d’importance sur les outils pour le travail du bois ... Si vous aimez les outils, ce livre doit être dans votre bibliothèque’.

Jean-Claude Peretz, Le Toupin-net : La lettre de l’amateur de l’art populaire no. 13, May 2011 (full article)


Other Reviews

‘The best book on tool collecting ever ... There are some really great books on tools already, but the new book Antique Woodworking Tools by David R. Russell blew me away ... The section on Norris alone would be worthy of a separate book. Photos of the most comprehensive collection of Norrises I have ever seen complete with probable dates, logos, including a whole bunch of models that never previously appeared in any of the printed Norris material’.

Joel’s Blog at Tools for Working Wood, Brooklyn, New York, USA (read more ...)

‘The best tool book ever written’.

Jim Bode, Jim Bode Tools, New York, USA

‘An incredible piece of art’.

Al Krysan, Astragal Press, Lakeville, Minnesota, USA

‘Fan-blankety-tastic book’.

Chris Schwarz’s Blog, Popular Woodworking Magazine, USA

‘Magnificent book’.

David Stanley, David Stanley Auctions, Osgathorpe, Leicestershire

‘[A] very scholarly and handsome compendium which continues to please and surprise me every day’.

Christopher Clarke, early keyboard instrument maker

‘A tremendous reference for woodworkers, collectors and anyone interested in the history of hand tools’.

Lee Valley Tools, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

‘Prachtig nieuw boek en het mooiste wat er tot nu toe verschenen is over gereedschap. De prachtige collectie van David Russell staat aan de basis van dit boek. 500 Pagina’s in groot formaat ( 26 × 35 cm ) met vooral foto’s en relatief weinig tekst. De collectie van Russell omvat ook veel 18e eeuws Nederlands gereedschap en is werkelijk internationaal georiënteerd’. [Splendid new book and the finest so far published on tools. David Russell’s magnificent collection forms the basis of this book. There are 500 pages in large format (26 × 35 cm) with mainly pictures and relatively little text. Russell's collection includes many 18th-century Dutch tools and is truly international.]

Duco Tools, Ede, The Netherlands

‘I took my copy to a woodworking show ... and everyone like me thinks it is the best book ever produced on antique tools’.

Stuart Minuskin, The Tool Exchange, Caloundra, Queensland, Australia


The Author

David Russell (1935–2018) was apprenticed as a cabinet-maker and joiner in Kendal, Cumbria.

He was a keen collector of woodworking tools for many years.


The Photographer

James Austin read architecture and history of art at Jesus College, Cambridge, and at the Courtauld Institute, London. He took up photography of architecture and works of art. A contributor to many art and architectural books, his clients have included the National Trust, English Heritage, the Crafts Council, the Tate Gallery and the Sainsbury Collection, Norwich.

For this book the photographer was assisted by his wife Pauline.


Other Contributors

James Shurmer designed the book.

Robert Lesage worked with the author from the outset of the undertaking on all aspects of the logistics.

Peter Hackett provided assistance in cataloguing the tools.

Conti Tipocolor, Florence, Italy, printed and bound the book.



Contact the publishers or local agents for further information: Enquiries


How to order the book offline

Please print off the order form and send it by mail to:

John Adamson
90 Hertford Street
Cambridge CB4 3AQ