Ah, reviews. I am on both sides of this particular coin. I have to both administer them and receive them.
As far as reviews of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” go, I have been struck by how many people are taking me to task on the technical details when the overall message of the book was what caused me endless agony.
Today I received an e-mail from a reader that is typical of what individual readers send me. It is the reason I wrote the book. Here goes. This is from reader Adam Godet:
“I hesitated to buy ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ …I’m not sure why. The first time I read the description on the web page, I thought, ‘400 pages of tool descriptions and instructions on building a box…and an argument not to buy more tools?! No thanks.’
“I’m not sure what changed my mind, but I’m grateful for it. The descriptions of necessary tools woodworkers should have and the appropriate attributes of them will be an invaluable reference for me (and others, I’m sure) as I build my tool set (not a collection).
“What I liked more about the book, was the anarchism argument. Although I never thought of it as anarchy, it’s a value system to which my wife and I have subscribed to for years. Ever since I got of out college and built my first crappy pine bookcases (which I submit are less crappy than the Ikea alternative I could have afforded at the time, since mine have survived five moves), to growing our own vegetables and making our own curtains and curtain rods, we’ve been living it. There is a fierce and fulfilling independence in making/growing what we need…and living outside of the corporate/government structure…and rejecting purchases intended to be thrown away…so yeah, kinda like anarchy.
“Your argument on time vs. money gave me serious pause (as in, I lost sleep thinking about life after reading the section). That, and some of the other ethics sections are some of my favorite passages of anything I’ve read in a long time. It’s books like these that reinforce my rejection of fast-food, consumer culture and embrace the craftsman ethos. Unfortunately, it seems you’re the David fighting the consumerist Goliath…but unlike the parable, you’re building an army, and I (along with others, it seems) have enlisted.
“Finally, I finished the book about a week ago, but keep laughing to myself repeating some of the phrases from the book, such as, ‘poop a cupcake.’
“That is not to say I don’t have some complaints about the book:
“1. Reading this book is addictive…and it makes me want to go to my shop and work; but I want to keep reading the book too…this creates an internal conflict, and I blame you.
“2. Where was this book two years ago when I started down this woodworking path? When I was searching for quality hand tools, found garbage, and submitted (briefly) to the power tool vortex of noise and dust?
“3. I’ve lost about 4 hours of sleep this week staying up reading and thinking about this book.
“4. More and more I want to quit my cube-dwelling job and make stuff full-time. It’s not realistic for me yet…but one day, maybe I’ll have the skills and knowledge to cut loose.
“Thank you for an excellent resource, for reminding me and others that we need not subscribe to popular, unhealthy habits, and for an entertaining book. I look forward to future Lost Art Press publications.”
— Adam Godet