Your Local Digital Pub

Brians ATC (1 of 1)

This fall, Lost Art Press will add a discussion forum. The “digital pub” will be a space for readers to converse, share photographs of LAP-inspired builds and ask questions related to hand-tool skills, books and life in the craft.

When I joined Chris a few weeks ago for the Anarchist’s Tool Chest class at Phil Lowe’s Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, I mentioned my plans to launch a “fan site.” I wasn’t sure what domain name to use, but when Chris showed up at happy hour in his “Death to the Pixies” t-shirt, it was obvious: “Fu**,” I blurted out. Sometime between that outburst and the next round of beers, Chris decided to let me give it a shot.

But the forum is also an idea that John and Chris have been thinking about for a while. Over the years, they’ve received a steady stream of questions, along with suggestions for what they “NEED” to add to the web site. When Chris decided to give up e-mail, pesky readers like myself lost the capacity to ask those questions. And Chris lost one of the most treasured aspects of being an author – the pleasure of receiving feedback from engaged readers.

So the forum fills gaps on both sides. For readers, it will be a virtual pub. For authors, it revives a digital means of receiving feedback, questions and criticisms.

At this point, I bet you’re asking two questions: (1) “Who is this guy?” and (2) “What’s he got to do with the blog?” Although I hate writing about myself, here are some quick answers.

(1) I’m a woodworking nerd. I have more experience reading about wood than building furniture. But that is about to change. For the past decade, I’ve been a professional professor and a hobby woodworker. This fall, I’m reversing those roles. While being an adjunct professor of American religious history has been a fulfilling vocation, it hasn’t paid the bills. I’ve yet to find that coveted tenure-track job, and I’m fed up with the corporatization of higher education. Inspired by authors like Chris, Robert Pirsig, and Matt Crawford – and encouraged by my wife and many of our university colleagues – I’m taking the plunge into anarchy. I’m building my own furniture designs. Valuating my own labor. Refusing to accept the Ikea-fication of our world. And narrowing the gap between what I do and what I love.

(2) I’m going to moderate the forum. While I encourage constructive criticism, this won’t be a space for hate. (And I will have a really low threshold for any posts derogatory of other readers.) We want this to be a friendly pub where the whole family can enjoy bratwurst and beers, not that bar down the street where every Saturday night someone gets their head bashed in with a cue ball. (I actually love those bars – this just isn’t going to be one of them.) In addition to moderating posts, its my job to keep other blog readers and LAP authors up to date. Each Monday, I’ll write about what’s trending in the forum, including links to conversations and photographs. As the discussions build, I’ll solicit comments and responses from LAP authors.

We anticipate we’ll be ready to launch the forum by mid-September. Until then, you’ll have to keep using the lame “comments” function to tell us what you think!

— Brian Clites, your new moderator and author of blog

This entry was posted in Discussion Forum, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Your Local Digital Pub

  1. says:

    Good Luck Brian Larry

  2. Brian:

    I doubt if a broken link is how you envisioned your tenure at LAP would begin, but so it goes. I’m looking forward to the forum.



    • Brian says:

      Sorry for the frustration Chris. I used the WordPress “Scheduled” function last night, but it sent the link immediately to LAP subscribers. My goof. Thanks for your patience.

  3. paulmayon says:

    Hi Brian

    It does not appear that anyone can comment on this post. Mine’s a pint by the way… great idea.

    Cheers Paul

    Paul Mayon

  4. KampWood says:

    Huh, no wonder I could never get my questions through about certain builds.

  5. jmuhaw says:

    Brian, Chris and John- Superb idea! This really sounds like it will have great value to each side. looking forward to it! Jim

  6. bearkatwood says:

    This sounds like a great forum. Glad to hear you are taking the plunge into the deep dark dusty abyss that is the wood-shop. With the advent that was the industrial revolution there came a movement that was felt world wide. It was a revolt, a rage against the machine. It was the Arts and Crafts, it was Art Nouveau etc. and I see it has a rebirth, this love of the craft. Your idea sounds great, I can’t wait!
    Oh, and make mine a double.

  7. beshriver says:

    A forum has potential to be a wonderful thing…BUT (you knew it was coming) …1. how will it be different than some of the other quality woodworking forums? 2. can you set it up so that you could login with a word press username? nothing is more frustrating than setting up new usernames, passwords, verify the email, break out some voodoo dolls perform a sacrifice, etc. just so you can post “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SCHWARZ FINISH THE DOGGONE ESTONIA BOOK ALREADY!!!

    • I am done with the Estonian book. It is being designed now.

      The forum will use your login for our store. You won’t have to buy something to participate, however.

      We are trying to also get it to support WordPress users. Though that will involve some coding on our part.

      How will this forum be different? How are our books different than other publishers’? How is this blog different? Why do we thrive year after year while other publishers shrink?



  8. ctregan says:

    Hope its different from others forums. Here are a few ideas to keep it classy.. ….No advertisements, No government/political bashers, no religious tag lines, limit avatars to handtools only!
    Also, a good tool swap forum with great deals on slightly used Lie-Nielson planes would be great!

  9. philupman says:

    I’m glad you’re taking on this challenge. There is need for improvement out there for sure, both for the community, and the old software that’s often used. I’d recommend you look into the forum software called discourse. It’s modern, Api based, mobile friendly, and has features you’d expect these days. I have no connection, but have compared forum software in the past.

  10. Niels Cosman says:

    I am all for a forum with a really low bar for personal f*ckery.
    I have all but given up on the forums, simply because I got tired of wading through the ego and personal bullshit that would bog down every interesting thread.
    God bless you for moderating! Hopefully you are already prone to alcoholism or are well practiced in the art of zen meditation because you are going to need something through the day. 🙂

    • We have all given up on forums. Like we had given up on books at one time….. It will be closely moderated. And the usual suspects will not be there.

    • Brian says:

      I am masochistic by nature, and have been known to like a great many liquids. But I will have to expand my reading on Zen beyond Pirsig if I plan to learn anything about meditation. Recommendations?

      • Sean Hughto says:

        Ashtanga yoga. A moving meditation that will clear and calm your mind and prepare your body for the workshop, not to mention for sitting comfortably in meditation.

      • Niels Cosman says:

        Well I reckon you’re going to want a find a way/path/practice with at least eight folds/limbs and lots of bourbon the smaller the batch the better!

      • Niels Cosman says:

        Fear and loathing in Internet-woodworking…..

        Dr. Gonzo: Sounds like big trouble. You’re going to need plenty of legal advice before this thing is over.
        As your attorney, I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top.
        And you’ll need the cocaine.
        Tape recorder for special music. Acapulco shirts.
        Get the hell out of L.A. for at least 48 hours. Blows my weekend.
        Raoul Duke: Why?
        Dr. Gonzo: Because naturally I’m going to have to go with you.
        And we’re going to have to arm ourselves… to the teeth!

      • raney says:

        merton’s contemplative prayer is a very good meditation text for the more Nazarene- bent practitioner. Thomas Keating has a good text on contemplative prayer too. For zen, Suzuki roshi’s classic zen mind beginners mind.

        Pirsig is brilliant, but far better with analytics than meditation – he’s much better on MoQ topics than zen. But at heart, he’s an analyst, one of the first things most meditation seeks to erode.

        Drugs work far faster.

  11. I wondered if I was the only one that had read ‘Shop Class as Soulcraft’ – very inspiring.

    • raney says:

      Not even close to the only one. Lot of people (looking at you skinny jeans) thought it was overly academic, but I thought it was fantastic. Crawford’s original New Atlantis article was one of the big reasons I took the leap from day job to toolmaker.

  12. Great idea guys, I look forward to the forum once it gets up and running! Best of luck to all of you in your business ventures now and in the future! Congratulations Chris on securing a new building for Lost Art Press!
    – Chris

  13. salomonja says:

    Brian, Chris & John – Looking forward to this, and excited to see how it evolves. Brian – I think you may have your work cut out for you in moderating. It will be easy enough to weed out personal insults and other nonsense. But I suspect you may end up walking a tightrope between allowing useful and interesting discussions on how-to, where difference of opinion can be instructive, and reining in some of the tiresome ‘X-is-better-than-Y’ debates that make other forums awful. Perhaps you are counting on self-selection into the ‘pub’ to take care of the latter? At any rate I have faith that since this is an LAP product, you will find the right balance and make this a pub worth spending quality time in. And I am willing to give it some time to find its mojo. Best wishes!
    – Josh (@stickingbored)

  14. Really looking forward to this forum!

  15. edfurlong says:


    First thanks in advance for what will likely be yeoman’s work as a moderator.

    Second, I think your descent into principled Anarchy is courageous and to be commended–best of luck.

    Third I particularly liked your sources of inspiration. Matthew Crawford has become one of my heroes. His newest book, The World Beyond Your Head is fantastic, and as a bonus, features a closeup of the Studley Tool Chest. For those of us who have seen the Studlely chest and have read Crawfor the connection between Crawford’s intellectual work and the art and craftsmanship of Henry Studley is abundantly clear.

    • Brian says:

      Ed, Thank you for the encouragement. And for the recommendation. This is the first I’ve heard of the connection between Crawford and Studley.

      • edfurlong says:


        A minor correction: the closeup of the Studley is printed on the book cover; the dust jacket is a translucent paper that teases about the image underneath.

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