"Tools: A Visual Exploration of Implements and Devices in the Workshop" is gorgeous, informative, personal and playful

When I decided to write my tips books for Make: (Tips & Tales from the Workshop, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) and to create a subsequent tips newsletter, I had a very specific mix of elements in mind. I wanted the content to be educational, useful, but I also wanted it to be well-written, story-driven, and sometimes playful and funny. I wanted to cover tips and tools in a very human way.

I can't say how successful I have been, but Theodore Gray nails this balance in his latest coffee table tome, Tools: A Visual Exploration of Implements and Devices in the Workshop. This oversized, 256-page book covers 500 tools in 118 categories, from common implements like saws, drivers, and hammers, to reamers, riveters, and vulcanizers.

Each tool is illustrated with gorgeous high-resolution photography. The text is not only informative — what the tool is used for, some history of it, variations, etc. — but it is also highly entertaining and funny. Gray is known for science and tech explainer books, like The Elements, Engines, How Things Work, done in a similar format, but this is his most personable and playful book yet.

My all-time favorite book about tools is Albert Jackson and David Day's Tools and How to Use Them. Gray's book is wonderful, but unlike Jackson and Day's, there is very little how-to here, few tips, no tricks. This really is more of a coffee table (or toilet tank) browser book than one for the workshop, but it is certain to delight, inform, and entertain any tool enthusiast.