Putting the "log" back in Blog

Good Reading for Woodworkers

Posted on November 10th, by Andy Brownell in Publications, Tools. No Comments

"The Anarchist's Tool Chest" & "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" by Christopher Schwarz

I have to admit, I’m not much of a book reader. Most of my reading takes the form of magazines, blogs and web content (both long and short-form). However, while at WIA 2011, I couldn’t resist purchasing these two books by Christopher Schwarz. Aside from looking and feeling good in the hands, or on shelf, (both have linen-style hard covers with embossed images), they are equally interesting to read for anyone intersted in woodworking.
The Anarchist’s Tool Chest
This is a great read for anyone interested in getting started in woodworking, or is looking to prioritize what they use to effectively build furniture. His overall tone and humor spread out  across virtually every page keeps the book interesting, particularly when talking about things like saw kerfs and spelching. The book is broken into two parts: (1) Essential tools for an Anarchist, and (2) building the tool chest to hold them all. He concludes the book with some thoughts on “How to save woodworking”, where he determines that it is up to us as amateur woodworkers to promote and propagate the language and craft to future generations.
As a father and passionate amateur woodworker, I feel up to the challenge to help save woodworking. I see outlets like teaching my children, my Cub Scout Den and ultimately volunteering at my kids school program at Sycamore School in Cincinnati as a great place to start. In terms of inspiration as a craftsman, I plan on building the smaller “Travelling Anarchist Tool Chest” Schwarz recently released for Google SketchUp. While I appreciate his enthusiasm for reviving hand tool use, I can’t image replacing my router with a set of moulding planes. Perhaps mine will be ready for the next WIA 2012 event to show off as well. 😉
The Joiner and Cabinet Maker
This book is in part, a re-issue of a fictional account of a cabinet maker’s apprentice in the 1830’s. The unique part of this particular account is that it sheds light on the processes and approach to construction by woodworkers in the early 19th century. This is significnat because very few details exist around construction and “shop-life” at this point in history.
I haven’t completed the book yet, but the original reads like you would expect a book from the 1830’s, a little lengthy and dry – albeit intersting enough. Case in point, all the detail you could ever want on what was required of an apprentice in tending the hot pot of hide glue.  The second half of the book is an account of Schwarz and his daughter taking on the three projects outlined in the original book: A shipping box, a school box and a modest chest of drawers. I look forward to getting to that section of the book where I’ll come across the familiar Schwarz-isms that keep his writing engaging.

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