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A little anarchy might be good for the soul

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Review by Tomcat1066 posted 09-14-2011 06:21 PM 2299 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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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!




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Tomcat1066

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17 comments so far

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WayneC

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#1 posted 09-14-2011 06:33 PM

I agree with your recommendation. I enjoyed the book and found it informative as well. I would say there are a couple of other good books if you like handtools and want more information on how to use them.

The New Traditional Woodworker By Jim Tolpin.

The Complete Woodworker by Bernard Jones

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

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Tomcat1066

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#2 posted 09-14-2011 06:48 PM

I should know better than to stick my neck out on something like that ;)

-- "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!

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WayneC

12290 posts in 2763 days


#3 posted 09-14-2011 07:10 PM

: ^ )

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

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Bertha

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#4 posted 09-14-2011 07:22 PM

Thanks for this well written honest review.

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

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SalvageCraft

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#5 posted 09-14-2011 07:56 PM

A timely review!

-- Jesse --

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RGtools

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#6 posted 09-14-2011 09:34 PM

I really enjoyed my copy of the book although I did have some bones to pick on it, I wish I would have found it at the begining of my hand tool carreer…it would have saved me some cash.

I would also try reading Aldren A watson’s book, Hand Tools, Their Ways and Workings.

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

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Beginningwoodworker

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#7 posted 09-14-2011 09:57 PM

Thanks for the review.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

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Tomcat1066

942 posts in 2462 days


#8 posted 09-14-2011 10:12 PM

Thanks folks.

RG: I know what you mean. While I didn’t waste as much money as I easily could have, it wouldn’t have been very hard. The only saving grace was that I bought tools when I was broke :)

-- "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!

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RGtools

3302 posts in 1321 days


#9 posted 09-15-2011 03:31 AM

That helped me too.

Many times I have had the fun debate of buying either tools or wood..not fun.

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

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lysdexic

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#10 posted 09-15-2011 05:23 AM

Thank you for the review. I am a hand tool neophyte and I find his list of tools quite valuable. For someone who is really starting to accumulate their tools, I would recommend the companion DVD as well.

Scott

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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mcoyfrog

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#11 posted 09-15-2011 08:30 PM

Great review, I think I’ll check the library for it..

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

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Tomcat1066

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#12 posted 09-16-2011 12:23 AM

@mcoyfrog: I wouldn’t count on finding it at the library. Small publisher, niche work, fairly new, there’s an excellent chance you won’t find it there. It’s worth the money to buy though, if at all possible.

-- "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!

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Kennyg

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#13 posted 09-19-2011 08:49 AM

Great review. This is an excellent book too which I believe will become a classic, that I hope to pass on to my future family. Hopefully there will be future handtool craftsmen (women) in my ancestry. Also as stated the CD is an excellent source for the proper handtools to purchase and the sources.

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mcoyfrog

3233 posts in 2260 days


#14 posted 09-19-2011 06:09 PM

Good to know thanks Tom..

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

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Tomcat1066

942 posts in 2462 days


#15 posted 09-20-2011 12:52 AM

Anytime :)

-- "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!

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