|Review by Tomcat1066||posted 09-14-2011 06:21 PM||2511 views||0 times favorited||17 comments|
Christopher Schwarz’s The Anarchists Tool Chest sounded, based on some reviews, to be a bit of a mixed bag. Many folks have compared it to other works, to varying degrees. My honest impression is that there really isn’t a book out there for the hand tool crowd.
Schwarz’s work is a default go-to manual for the neophyte hand tool user, whether they’re new to woodworking or just new to hand tools. The first question anyone asks is “what do I need?” Invariably, so helpful soul will tell folks just what tools they need. They may even suggest brands, like a Veritas or Lie-Neilson or even a vintage Stanley, but rarely do they have the time to explain what each tool is really used for and how one should make sure the tool is actually worth the money.
However, a book like this could easily be as dry as Aunt Martha’s meatloaf, yet Schwarz seems to have managed to avoid this. His voice, a blend of self effacing honesty with a smidge of snarky elitism, speaks to the reader in a more conversational tone that many woodworking authors. This makes the word far less tedious than it could easily become.
All was not what I expected though. For example, I hoped to see a discussion of tool chests very similar to his first workbench book. That wasn’t there. Instead, there is a very general discussion of tool chests and their requirements, along with instructions on how he built his. Perhaps, at some point, either Schwarz or another writer will tackle this subject. Of course, that was my preconceived notions based on two other books by the author, not anything that was passed along in promotional texts.
For some, Schwarz’s discussion of his philosophy regarding woodworking in general may be a turn off. He, like many of us, laments the fall of the trades that once provided so much of our furniture. He, again like many of us, seems to lament that we have become a disposable culture where longevity is no longer a factor in buying furniture. For some, this is a discussion for a web forum or a blog, but to me it was kind of nice to see that I’m not the only one who thinks the same things.
To me, this was an all around excellent book. It solidifies my faith in the tools I already own, and points out the deficiencies in my collection (which aren’t as many as I would have thought). I got the book Monday afternoon and completed it early on Wednesday morning. This was while working a full time job, so I found it to be pretty quick. I highly recommend you pick up a copy if you haven’t already.
-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!