Great Book

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Review by willy66 posted 07-25-2011 04:44 PM 3073 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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So I just finished reading the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwartz. It was a very good book. I like how Chris presents his progression from a tool hoarder, to what can be called a minimalist carpenter, without being to preachy. He talks a lot about using tools to build things of quality and distinct purpose which will last multiple lifetimes instead of running out to a box store and buying something that will do ‘for now.’

I am guilty of this. Running out to buy a media console for a low price, to use until I have time to build a proper one. It is a waste of money, and a waste of resources. Isn’t it funny that I wont throw away a tiny scrap of oak in my shop, but am willing to buy a press-board media console to use for a year or two and toss? My wife, who is from Portugal, would always fight with me when I insisted in buying a cheap table for our first house, to use until we can afford a good one. I didn’t understand this; thought she was crazy. It seems, however, that she may be right (don’t tell her I said so).

Chris shows the parallels when it comes to us and our tools. Buying the newest greatest tool, which is making an effort to produce something as good as the tools 100 years old. Its something to think about.

Look I am not going to go out and sell all my power tools, and live in an unfurnished house, until I have time to build every thing. But Its not a bad idea to start working towards that direction. I have a box-spring and mattress, but am slowly collecting the money and materials to build the bed I want. I’ll start there.

Read the books if you can folks. Its by the Lost Art Press (publisher), I bought it at Tools for Working Wood. Its a good book.

Has anyone else read it? What are your thoughts?

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

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15 comments so far

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#1 posted 07-25-2011 04:46 PM

Thanks for the review. I’m 3/4 of the way through it. So far, I am really enjoying the read.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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13588 posts in 3538 days

#2 posted 07-25-2011 04:52 PM

Wayne, are you rationing your book, spreading out the read? If so, I do that;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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14359 posts in 4942 days

#3 posted 07-25-2011 05:43 PM

I’ve been pretty busy. I have mainly been reading it while waiting for various medical appointments.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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#4 posted 07-25-2011 06:30 PM

Yes, I’ve read it. Loved it.

-- johnjoiner

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Chris Wright

541 posts in 4326 days

#5 posted 07-25-2011 06:50 PM

Where did you get it? I’ve looked on Amazon and just plain Googled it with no success.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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44 posts in 3448 days

#6 posted 07-25-2011 08:27 PM

Chris, check out:

They have it in stock. That is where I got it, I think $33.00 or so, but I’m close so I just got pick it up.

I think that Lee Valley has it too, not sure.

Just picked up ‘The Joiner and The Cabinet Maker” from there. Will let you know how that is too.

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

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16899 posts in 3463 days

#7 posted 07-25-2011 08:52 PM

It’s a great read, and can be ordered directly from Lost Art Press as well.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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#8 posted 07-26-2011 02:02 AM

Ordered my copy from Lee Nielson and finished it last week. Sure wished I had this book when I started outfitting my shop. I agree with a lot of his points in the book and highly recommend it.

I have no plans of giving up my power tools right away, but if I can master the skills with the hand tools and create more shavings than dust that’s a plus. I’m going to give hand tools more attention in the coming year or so and if I find that I am not using a power tool that was replaced by hand tools I may sell it off. Power tools do save time, however they do exact a price. It’s finding that balance between the two on an individual basis that every woodworker must face. I drank the hand tool Kool Aid he and others hand tool users are handing out, it makes sense and has intrinsic value.

In his Afterword (end of the book) he summed it up nicely, we are woodworkers or wood machinists?

” We cannot look to our government to preserve woodworking. During the last 20 years, our public school systems have only eliminated classes on the manual arts..”

” We cannot look to free enterprise to preserve woodworking. The last 100 years of mechanization has made most furniture and tools both cheap and flimsy…”

” The only people who will preserve our craft are the passionate amateurs, who can pursue all manner of crazy historical methods without worrying about starving”

He also makes a good point about fine quality tools and ” tool shaped objects” referring to many of the cheap tools most of us purchase when we get into the hobby.

The editors wanted him to write a book about a new “blended” approach to woodworking. He even admits that he uses power tools on a limited basis. He decided to dedicate the book to primarily good quality hand tools.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

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14359 posts in 4942 days

#9 posted 07-26-2011 02:04 AM

Lee Valley appears to have the best price….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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#10 posted 07-26-2011 02:51 AM

I also finished reading it and found it very helpful and enjoyable to read. Great for the beginner and a woodworker looking to “reform” his workshop and work.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

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228 posts in 3535 days

#11 posted 07-26-2011 04:48 AM

Thanks for the review Willy. Based on your review as well as the others I just ordered the book (I went with the Lost Art Press version to get the autograph). Can’t wait to read it!

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

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#12 posted 07-27-2011 12:58 PM

Thanks for the review. I’d looked around for “The Joiner and The Cabinet Maker” book but didn’t buy it. They seem a bit pricey for me. Nice to know though that this was a good one. I’ll keep checking until I find a used copy. haha

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

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44 posts in 3448 days

#13 posted 07-27-2011 02:53 PM

Enjoy Randy! When I first picked it up, I didn’t put it down until page 125, so clear out some time in your schedule.

SSMDad, I’m about 100 pages in so far in “The Joiner and The Cabinet Maker,” I’ll let you know how it goes. Good luck finding a used copy though…Us woodworkers (who are the most likely readers), won’t throw away scraps of wood in case they ‘may need it someday’. It’s doubtful any of us may let go of something like a book.

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

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3372 posts in 3500 days

#14 posted 08-02-2011 02:59 PM

I have read it, and re-read it. I keep my meager tool budget savings in there, current savings goal, lots of white pine for a gorgeous chest, and maybe a marking knife from blue spruce.

I look forward to the DVD, I hope I get a decent look inside the chest to see how the final layout of the tools ended up.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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14359 posts in 4942 days

#15 posted 08-25-2011 08:01 AM

Given all the discussion on the book lately I’m going to bump the review back up.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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