This part of the FAQ is a list of DIY Manuals recommended by regular contributors to the uk.d-i-y newsgroup.

Submissions are accepted at the discretion of the References FAQ maintainer. Please send suggestions and comments to him at the address below.

You may find certain titles are out-of-print. They have been left in the list in case you can track a copy down via your library, or one of the out-of-print search organisations.

Update 2011: Since many of these titles have been updated or superceded, we have included a current set of Amazon links to equivalent versions of these books where there is still a version in print as of today. See the selection carousels below.

Usual caveat emptor disclaimers apply.



Collins Complete DIY Manual

Author: Albert Jackson and David Day
Publisher: HarperCollins, London
Approx Cost UKP 25.00 (often discounted)
ISBN No.: 000 412894X
Pages/published: 528pp/Oct 1993
Contents: Containing (as it says on the cover): * All you need to know about practically every DIY job you can tackle * Easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on what to do and how to do it safely * Over 3000 illustrations and photographs, all in colour * The very latest DIY techniques, materials, and products * Current regulations for wiring, plumbing, and planning permission * The best advice from the country's leading experts, Albert Jackson and David Day * Updated colour-coding and cross-referencing - so you can find what you want at a glance * Additional features include: Security lighting, Conservatories, Power showers, Telephone extensions
Comments: Not revised since 1993, but still very good. Packs a lot into a small space.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



Readers Digest Complete DIY Manual

Publisher: The Readers Digest Association Ltd
Approx Cost UKP 20 (often discounted)
ISBN No.: 0 276 42354 2  (First Ed 1994.  Amended 1997)
Pages/published: 512pp/Jan 1998
Contents: Descriptions, ideas, techniques and tips.
Comments: Good value for money.  Covers topics to a depth adequate for the majority of DIY tasks.  Includes plumbing, central heating and electrics as well as the usual decorating and repairs. Some basic building fundamentals are omitted but those would need a more specialised text.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top




The Complete Woodworking Course

Author: Chris Simpson
Publisher: Quarto (1994)
Approx Cost Out of print
ISBN No.: 0-7134-7648-6
Pages/published: 175pp
Contents: Detail on about mastering woodworking tools and skills through progressively challenging furniture projects - small table through to an 'easy chair'.
Comments: Recommended
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Construction of Buildings

Author: R. Barry
Publisher: BSP Professional Books
Approx Cost UKP 6 (soft back) ea of 5 volumes
ISBN No.: 0 632 05261 9  (vol 1)
Pages/published: Various/Fairly recent
Contents: Vol 1:  Foundations and over-site concrete - walls - floors - roofs 

Vol 2:  Windows - doors - fires, stoves and chimneys - stairs - internal finishing and external rendering

Vol 3:  Lattice truss, beam, portal frame and flat roof construction - roof and wall sheeting and decking - roof lights - shell structures - diaphragm and fin wall construction - thermal insulation - flat roofs

Vol 4:  Foundations and substructures - structural steel frames - concrete - concrete structural frames - external walls of framed buildings

Vol 5:  Water supply - sanitary appliances - sanitary pipework - foul drainage - roof and surface water drainage - electrical supply - gas supply - refuse storage

Comments: These books are A4 format soft back and only slim (very concise).  I would not be without Vol 1 for doing any building work.  No use for inspiration though, no examples, only how it should be done.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Which? Book of Wiring and Lighting

Author: Mike Lawrence
Publisher: Which? Books (April 2000)
Approx Cost UKP 16.99
ISBN No.: 0-85202-817-2
Pages/published: 159pp/Apr 2000
Contents: 'Basics', 'Wiring Techniques', 'Wiring Jobs' 'Rewiring a House', 'Glossary', 'Useful Addresses'.
Comments: Hardback.  "The cover says "If you don't see how to do it here don't do it", and I agree. Very useful."
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Complete Manual of Practical House Building

Author: Robert Matthews
Publisher: J M Dent Ltd. Orion Publishing, 5 Upper St Martins Lane, London WC2 9EA
Approx Cost UKP 14.99 (Out of print)
ISBN No.: 0-460-86170-0
Pages/published: 191pp
Contents: A4 format. A wealth of information on how-to-do-things, from setting out with profile boards and ranging lines to sharpening chisels. Covers conventional construction, not timber frame.
Comments: There are line drawings in abundance which are clear and uncomplicated. Not much information on planning or managing a self-build.  A lot of useful addresses also given for suppliers.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



How to restore and improve your Victorian House

Author: Alan Johnson
Publisher: David and Charles
Approx Cost: UKP 16.99 (Out of print)
ISBN No.: 0-7153-9955-1
Pages/published: 1991
Contents: First published 1984, revised edition 1991.
Chapters on Foundations, Basements, External walls, Roofs, Internal Floors, Internal walls, Staircases, Windows and Glazing, Outside the House, Services and Fittings, Alterations and Improvements. Also has a Directory of Restoration products and Services and list of Related Reading.
Comments: Excellent book for anyone intending to do major renovation or simple maintenance on houses built between 1820 and about 1920. It is particularly good in that it suggests ways of adding modern requirements, bathrooms, central heating etc and using modern materials whilst keeping the Victorian character of the house. Good technical detail and illustrations/diagrams. It contains very little about finishes, decoration etc.
The same author has another book 'Converting Old Buildings', the review of which looks good as well.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Housebuilders Bible Millennium Edition

Author: Mark Brinkley
Publisher: Rodelia Ltd., PO Box 853, Weston Colville, Cambridge CB1 5NZ
Approx Cost UKP 18.00
ISBN No.: 0-9524852-3-0
Pages/published: 240pp/Nov 1999
Contents: Tables which allow you to work out the material and labour costs for just about every individual task involved with building a house. For example: The cost per light fitting to the charge per linear metre for scaffolding.
Comments: [Comments on earlier 96/97 edition] This title may mislead you to think this is a practical book, it isn't. However it is an excellent book. There is a fair amount of background detail to various stages of the build and to who does what and how to organise things. With plenty of examples of the various methods of achieving the results i.e. dry-lining costs and plastering costs are detailed. It does take some getting used to - you need to look at the front example, find the relevant chapter, look at the breakdown and then find the relevant table to see the full breakdown of material & labour costs.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The British Gypsum pocket book 3rd edition

Publisher: British Gypsum Head Office, 15 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5JE
Approx Cost Free
ISBN No.:  
Pages/published: 280pp
Contents: Everything you ever wanted to know about plaster, plastering and dry lining.
Comments: Probably well into reprint by now, an excellent FREE source book. This is a real gem of a book, showed me how to set out all my plaster-boarding, nail sizes, board types, plaster types and mixes etc.
Details last reviewed: 16-05-97 Top



Brickwork for Apprentices

Author: J C Hodge
Publisher: Butterworth-Henemann
Approx Cost UKP 16.99
ISBN No.: 0-3405-5641-2
Pages/published: 256pp/Nov 1993
Contents: A hundred questions that you needed to know about bricklaying answered and a thousand you didn't even know could be asked.
Comments: This was set course reading for all bricklaying apprentices. Very detailed and very practical.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



Building Techniques vol.1 Structure

Author: H King / D Nield
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Approx Cost Out of print.
ISBN No.: 0-412-21330-3
Contents: Incredible detail on everything regarding construction of a house.
Comments: "This is the book that almost built my house for me. It is a set work for building courses in colleges and I have no reservations about recommending this book".
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Building Regulations Explained & Illustrated

Author: Vincent Powell-Smith and M J Billington
Publisher: Blackwell Scientific Publications Ltd
Approx Cost UKP 29.50
ISBN No.: 0-632-05069-1
Pages/published: 752pp/June 1999
Contents: Title says it all.
Comments: Soft back (1.5 inches thick). Considering the subject matter clear and concise.  Available from libraries.
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top



The Construction of Houses

Author: Duncan Marshall & Derek Worthing
Publisher: The Estates Gazette Ltd (Part of Reed Business Publications)
Approx Cost out of print
ISBN No.: 0-7282-0260-3
Pages/published: 317pp/Dec 1995
Contents: Covers all those types of building work that you're likely to encounter in UK domestic housing; from early-Victoriana to modern insulation systems.
Comments: "If you're buying a house, building one, or simply don't know your pargetting from your parapets, then this book is for you.  It's thin enough that you can read it, yet the large format allows for several line drawings on every page. Reading this book taught me more than any other pile of textbooks about how houses were put together, how they fall apart and how to put them back again. It's a paragon of clear and legible writing. No longer need you be baffled by batts or fail to understand a U value. Highly recommended, and the best bargain anyone buying a house more than 10 years old could find."
Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top




Fine Woodworking on--[titles below]

Author: Various, John Kelsey, ed.
Publisher: The Taunton Press Inc., 63 South Main St, Box 355, Newtown, Connecticut 06470, USA
Approx Cost About UKP 6.00 from or Stobart Davies Ltd,  2 Priory Street, Hertford, SG14 1RN.  Tel: 01992 501508, Fax 01992 501519
ISBN No.: see individual titles below
Pages/published: Approx 100pp (varies)
Contents: Various
Comments: Paperback, text a little small, illustrations and photographs absolutely excellent. Collected articles from Fine Woodworking forming a "Masterclass".  Sometimes a little US specific, but plenty of first rate information, some by world-recognised experts in their field. Stunning quality of work very evident. Recommended for the dedicated and improving woodworker.

Fine Woodworking on Boxes, Carcases and Drawers, ISBN 0-918804-26-4: 41 articles on hand and machine making, including dovetails.

Fine Woodworking on Joinery, ISBN 0-918804-25-6: 36 articles on hand and machine joinery, glues, Japanese Sliding doors using Japanese tools.

Fine Woodworking on The Small Workshop, ISBN 0-918804-27-2: 41 articles on design, layout, jigs, benches, dust extraction and safety.

Fine Woodworking on Tables and Desks, ISBN 0-918804-44-2: 32 articles on hand and machine making of period (incl. Shaker) and modern items, joints.

Others in the series: Fine Woodworking on Bending Wood. Carving. Chairs and Beds. Faceplate Turning. Finishing and Refinishing. Hand Tools. Making and Modifying Machines. Making Period Furniture. Marquetry and Veneer. Planes and Chisels. Proven Shop Tips. More Proven Shop Tips. Spindle Turning. Things to Make.  Wood and How to Dry It.  Woodshop Specialities. Woodworking Machines.

Details last reviewed: 08-Sep-00  Top


See all Fine Woodworking books on Amazon