This blog entry is taking care of unfinished business.
Last Spring we offered 26 lettered and signed editions of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” that were hand bound in black leather, with custom end papers and silver foil lettering.
Two of our customers changed their minds about their orders, and so these two editions have remained sealed and protected for the last 12 months. I’d like to get these into the hands of people who will appreciate them and off our balance sheet.
So we are selling these two editions for the exact same price as we did last year: $165 plus $8.50 domestic shipping. (Sorry, we cannot accept international orders.) The first two people to e-mail me and say, “I want one” get one. The two editions left are lettered “F” and “S.”
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is now at the printer and we, like some of you, are tapping our toes as we wait.
So to pass the time, we are offering a free download of the prologue and first chapter of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” in .pdf format. This is a small sample – the book is 480 pages. I didn’t mean to write that much. It just happened.
Also, I know that many of you enjoyed the quotations that I posted here on the blog while I was building the chest. Many of them are from Charles H. Hayward when he was editor of The Woodworker magazine. As I came across those quotes I typed them into a document.
I only managed to use a few of the quotes in the book. But all of them are in the file below – including some that weren’t even posted on the blog – for you to download and enjoy.
And finally, we are now taking pre-orders for “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” If you order before the book ships – we hope by early June – then you will receive free domestic shipping. The book is $37 and all copies that we sell through our store will be signed. You can read more details and place your order here in our store.
Note that we are planning on issuing a hand-bound leather edition of this book. There will only be 26 of those, and each will be lettered and signed. Details are to come, but we expect the leather edition will be available in July and will be about $200.
Thanks to all of you who have written encouraging notes during the last 14 months as I worked on this book during nights and weekends. I hope that the result doesn’t disappoint.
At Robinwood Elementary, we were judged on how well we played well with our classmates. The grades were simply “S” for “satisfactory, or “U” for “unsatisfactory.”
They didn’t have a “U-minus” grade, but I am certain that I earned it.
I’ve never been a team player. It’s why I love woodworking, writing, music and cooking. They are singular pursuits that your pursue without relying on others. I hate relying on other people.
So I have to let you know that with “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I let my guard down a bit.
Throughout the entire process of this book, from conception to birth canal (which is where we are now) I leaned heavily on the advice of Narayan Nayar, a friend of mine from Chicago. He has guided me through every stage of this book. And I really mean every stage.
He pushed me to rewrite key sections of the book three times. He designed the templates that determined the design of the book, which I am quite pleased with. He took the photos that open the 20 chapters and spent days and days styling them in Photoshop.
And he helped guide this book, which is my longest and most complex work to date, through the difficult production process.
As I write this, the hard-copy proof of the book is on its way here for final approval. I’m going to have to sign the papers saying that it’s good and ready for press. But the only approval that means anything is Narayan’s.
I could be wrong when I say this, but the reason I think I was willing and happy to work with him is that he is just as demanding as I am. Perhaps even more so.
So when your copy of this book arrives, if it looks and reads better than my previous works, now you know why.
Though building furniture in our workshops might seem like a quaint skill, it actually is a radical act in the modern consumerist age – where furniture is tossed to the curb at a whim.
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is the story of how I came to realize this during my 15 years as an editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine, and how this small revelation changed the way I approach the craft, my tools and my shop. Here’s what I did:
• After researching lists of the core tools one needs to build furniture that were published from 1678 to 1973, I made a list of the 48 hand tools that are essential. I sold off the unnecessary tools in my kit and focused my efforts on fewer – but higher quality – tools.
• I built a traditional tool chest to house these tools that is based on research into historical chests and my experience of working out of two traditional chests for the last 14 years. Modern chests, I found, are poorly designed, too small and painful to use. So I created a list of the 13 rules for building chests that will result in something that really works. Many of these rules will surprise you. An example: You should always nail the bottom of the chest to the shell.
• I wrote this book to help other woodworkers assemble an ideal first tool kit – or modify their existing tool set to have fewer, better-quality tools.
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is divided into three sections:
1. A deep discussion of the 48 core tools that will help readers select a tool that is well-made – regardless of brand name or if it’s vintage or new. This book doesn’t deal with brands of tools. Instead it teaches you to evaluate a well-made tool, no matter when or where it was manufactured. There also is a list of the 24 “good-to-have” tools you can add to your kit once you have your core working set.
2. A thorough discussion of tool chests, plus plans and step-by-step instructions for building one. The book shows you how to design a chest around your tools and how to perform all the common operations for building it. Plus, there are complete construction drawings for the chest I built for myself.
3. There also is a brief dip into the philosophy of craft, and I gently make the case that all woodworkers are “aesthetic anarchists.”
As always, this book is being printed in the United States on high-quality paper with a permanent binding. It will not be sold through any mass-market channels such as Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble. The book will be available for shipment at the end of May 2011 though our web site, Lee Valley Tools, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and Tools for Working Wood.
The retail price is $37. Within the next week we will start accepting preorders, which will receive free shipping in the United States. Once the book is received in our warehouse (my basement), we will charge shipping. All books ordered from us will be autographed.
We also will offer a short run of leather-bound editions of this book. We are ordering just enough to offer 26 lettered and signed editions that will be hand-bound by Ohio Book, which bound “The Joiner & Cabinet Maker.” Details and pricing on the leather edition will be available in June.
Format: 6” x 9”
Cover: Linen over 98-point hard boards
Paper/Binding: 60# acid-free paper, Smythe sewn, casebound
Printed in the United States (Pennsylvania)
Last night I dragged myself home after the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event in our office, laced up my running shoes and set out on a three-mile run. It turned out to be a ghostly sprint through the neighborhood.
It was about 10 p.m., and a wild wind and drenching rain convinced me to wear a hat and pull my sweatshirt’s hood around my face. As I was stupidly pushing through this weather I kept seeing brief flashes of white off to the side from the porthole of my hood.
After the third white thing, which I had to jump over, I slowed my pace a bit to see what the hell these white things were. After running by a couple more houses, I got my answer.
They were white pressboard pieces of furniture that my neighbors had dragged to the curb for “large-item pickup day.” It’s a twice-annual event in our town, when you can drag almost anything to the curb and the city’s garbage contractors will pick it up without complaint. Couches, beds, lawnmowers are common.
But even more common are these furniture-shaped objects made from crappy white melamine.
They are usually broken in some small way. There might be a bunch of white drawers on top of them. And they are everywhere. I counted 12 more on the remainder of my run.
And as I slowed my pace in front of our house I was soaked and disappointed as I thought how my neighbors would be off to Target to buy some slightly more fashionable melamine things that I’d have to leap over in another couple years.
We have nothing at our curb for large-item pickup day. I opened my front and was greeted by the sight of the bookcase I finished last month for our front room.