This is one of those rare woodworking books that combines plenty of great technical information and an inspirational, even challenging, message. Regular readers of magazines like Fine Woodworking and Woodwork know Warner as a highly knowledgeable if occasionally doctrinaire (witness the scorn he heaps upon table-mounted plunge routers!) router maven. Oftentimes such a personality wears thin over the course of a long book; not so with Warner. Having bought the book to learn about a specific jig I had heard about, I found myself reading page after page with attention and growing excitement. My routing (a daily activity in my woodworking business) is going to change for the better thanks to Warner. I'll be building several if not all of the jigs in the book within the next few weeks. I am convinced that, 10 years into my life as a router user, Warner's approach is going to make my work faster, more accurate, and even more enjoyable.
Warner's approach is open-eyed and creative. Several of the jigs bring the router to the work in directions (and tool-path-shapes if I may be forgiven a gaucherie) that appear bizarre to someone used to the standard manufactured jigs. Bits in unusual shapes and sizes abound in this book, too. Warner's prose is also occasional eye-openingly unfamiliar, but almost always in a satisfying way. This man has obviously thought long and hard not just about routing, but about how to describe it precisely and without a lot of the hackneyed jargon that often conceals a writer's limited mastery of the subject. I kept coming upon concepts like "handedness" and being reminded of Russian Formalism's "defamiliarization" or "enstrangement."
I must share a few cavils about the book. Two of them are about perspective. Every page of the book is full of close-up photos and clear diagrams. However, there is a frustrating lack of wider-angle views. "Okay," I found myself thinking time and again, "Here is a great shot of how this template, this router bit, and the workpiece come together. But how does the whole assembly get held to the bench? Where does the man stand as he moves through the work? And how tall is his workbench?" Leaving aside even such practical matters, it would be nice to see what Warner's shop looks like. A similar claustrophobic feeling permeates the text. Warner seems in such a rush to get us into cutting the joints that we lack a sense of the whole scenario-we don't know what router (or routers), or bits, or jigs we'll be using until they appear without introduction in the process narration. As a matter of fact construction of the key jigs is discussed after their use is described-as if by afterthought....
For a simple, even low-tech approach to router jointmaking, I recommend Gary Rogowski's Router Joinery. For those ready to make the step to a more sophisticated and involved, but safer and more accurate approach to the router, this book is a great introduction, and I say again, I am sure that my approach to routing will change for the better thanks to this book.