The books in this list are ones I recommend specifically to period furniture makers.
This is distinct from the Selected Resources page which lists general furniture related reference books, tool histories, and resources, links to museums and historical organizations.
To further muddy the waters, I have an annotated bibliography specifically for 17th Century American furnituremaking.
In the list below, you will notice a lot from Lost Art Press. You could do a lot worse than just buying most of their catalog. They focus on pre-Industrial woodworking and while most if it is out of the SCA period, it's all great information and much of it unchanged from previous centuries.
- Alexander, Jennie & Follansbee, Peter (2011). Make a Joint Stool from a Tree. Covington, KY: Lost Art Press. ISBN: 978-0985077709
- This book is the best reference for this form. The joint stool was pretty popular in Elizabethan England, especially in the West Country (Devon, Kent, etc.). It is very easy to build, using a small kit of tools and greenwood. When joiners emigrated to the Colonies, this was one of the forms they first produced. Examples from the mid to late 17th Century abound in the Massachusetts area.
- Conybeare, A.J. (1991). Trees, Chests & Boxes of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. London: The Self Publishing Association. ISBN: 978-1-85421-1422
- This is a hard to find book. It was self-published by a British enthusiast of carved oak boxes. He was a Forestry Consultant in the Westlands of England and looks at the items from the perspective of the wood used. He instigated a movement in English Historical Furniture circles to attempt to localize the origin of items based on the wood used and it's characteristics (e.g., annual growth rings). This 224-page book is loaded with illustrations, all B&W unfortunately. Many have at least some details: timber type, dimensions, etc. It also touches upon molding profiles, hardware, and carving elements.
- Conybeare, A.J. (1993). A Discourse on Boxes of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Worchestershire: ROSCA Publications. ISBN: 0-9517678-1-X
- Another hard to find book. This one is focused on smaller carved boxes, hardware, and the design motifs. You see essentially the same boxes showing up in New England at the and of the 17th Century as the craftsman from the west of England, particularly Devonshire emigrate to the colonies.
- Chinnery, Victor. (2016). Oak Furniture - The British Tradition 2nd Ed. London: Antique Collectors Club. ISBN: 978-1851497157
- This book is the canonical reference for English Oak furniture from the Middle Age to the start of the 19th Century. It's 552 pages are packed with photos. This one is not hard to find, but it's way cheaper to order it from the UK even though it's a weighty tome (8 lbs.)
- Follansbee, Peter. (2019). Joiner's Work. Covington, KY: Lost Art Press. ISBN: 978-1-7322100-5-9
- This book focuses heavily on the making of carved boxes and chests from green oak. The forms Follansbee uses are from extant examples in the New England area from the end of the 17th Century. These are essentially identical to those produced earlier in the century in England, especially Devon. Though the English ones are more likely to be from sawn wood than green (see Conybeare and Chinnery).
- Klien, Joshua A. (2018). Hands Employed Aright. Covington, KY: Lost Art Press. ISBN: 978-1-7322100-5-9
- Klien examines what might be the most complete record of the life of an early 19th Century American craftsman living on the frontier with limited resources. Using Fisher’s papers, his tools and the surviving furniture we get a glimpse into this remarkable man who made most of his own tools, a kit that would be familiar to furnituremakers from centuries before.
- Williams, Donald C., Pietryka-Pagán, Michele, Lafargue, Philippe. With All the Precision Possible: Roubo on Furniture.
- This book is the first English translation of the 18th-century masterpiece: “l’art du Menuisier” by André-Jacob Roubo. Williams and his team translated the text from Medieval French, a process that took 10 years to get right. This book is actually just the sections on woodworking tools, the workshop, joinery and building furniture. What sets this text apart from other early texts is that Roubo was a trained woodworker and drew the art himself giving this text far more validity than many of the others from the period.
- Viires, Ants. Trans Mart Aru (2016). Woodworking in Estonia. Covington, KY: Lost Art Press. ISBN: 978-9780990626
- An unusual book in that it was written in the 1960s but documents the folkways of rural Estonia, a place that might as well have been in the Middle Ages at the time. Viires covers, in detail, the hand tools used by the Estonian. He discusses all the different products Estonians made for their own use and for sale in the markets, including bent-wood boxes, chairs, chests, tables, sleds, carriages, spinning wheels, spoons, tobacco pipes, bowls, and beer tankards.
This is the second tier of furniture making or tool making books. Nice-to-have, but not must-have.
- Diehl, Daniel. 1996. Constructing Medieval Furniture: Plans and Instructions with Historical Notes. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books ISBN: 978-0811727952
- A good survey of some medieval furniture with enough information to get you started. These are NOT plans per se, they are measured drawings of items in museums, so details are spotty depending on access. I've used this to make a couple of projects with mixed results. Not a beginning woodworker reference, proceed with caution.
- Diehl, Daniel. 1999. Medieval Furniture: Plans and Instructions for Historical Reproductions. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books ISBN: 978-0811728546
- A second set of medieval furniture along the lines of the previous book. And the previous cautions apply. You can get both books under one cover by looking up: Medieval & Renaissance Furniture: Plans & Instructions for Historical Reproductions (2012) ISBN: 978-0811710237
- Greber, Josef M. 1991. The History of the Woodworking Plane: (Die Geschichte des Hobels). Translated by Seth W. Burchard. Early American Industries Association.
- The English translation of Greber (1989). Probably the best coverage available of medieval and Renaissance planes. Extremely hard to find, the EAIA prints one book a year and mails to all members. Find one that died and get it from his widow. I have been unable to locate either edition. Note: that the English translation contains the text only; the illustrations are in the German volume.
- Norman, Gustav Adolf. 1954. Hovelens historie. Lillehammer, Norway.
- A Norwegian history of planes with some interesting tidbits on Scandinavian usages. Very hard to find at less than astronomical prices.