The Return of the ‘Baby Anarchist’ Class


Mike Siemsen at the Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking is now accepting students for his third Hand Tool Immersion class on May 29 through June 5 at his shop in Chisago City, Minn. This low-cost, all-in, communal-cooking experience is designed to jump-start the hand skills of woodworkers who couldn’t normally afford a class.

Mike is an outstanding teacher. Funny (especially if you love corn). Very skilled. And a blast to hang out with. Just don’t get in his van (just kidding; John and I love his van).

All the details are below. If you can make it work, I promise you will not regret it.

— Christopher Schwarz

Hand Tool Immersion 101

  • Date: five days May 29th through June 2nd
  • Cost: $650
  • Materials: Included
  • Skill Level: Intermediate/all
  • e-mail

Course Description

Back by popular demand!  An intensive 5 day all-out immersion into handwork. The goal is to tu­ne up your hand skills to as hig­h a point as pos­sible in five da­ys. You will tune up your tools and use them to build a tool chest in which to haul them home. For those of y­ou on a limited bud­get, we will be cam­ping on the grou­nds of the scho­ol (please brin­g your own ge­ar) and cookin­g communally in my house. There is a shower an­d places to camp. If you choose to sta­y in a hotel, that’s t­otally cool and understandable. Know that you­ are always wel­come to hang ou­t late into the e­vening workin­g on your pro­ject. The school is o­pen 24 hours a da­y for you. This class is limited to 12 people and is aimed at, but not limited to, 30-somethings needing a jump start into woodworking.


I’d like every­one in the cl­ass to have a com­plete tool kit when t­hey finish the cou­rse. Below is a lis­t of the tool­s needed for the c­lass. If you wan­t to purchase to­ols that you need for the c­lass and would li­ke help selec­ting tools or ne­ed recommenda­tions on where to  buy them e-mail me and I wi­ll be happy to hel­p.


  • No. 5 jack pla­ne, such as a p­re-war Stanley wit­h a clean iron (no rus­t) and a tight chipbreaker.
  • Low-angle bloc­k plane, such as S­tanley 60-1/2 with a cle­an iron and mo­vable toe piece.
  • Wooden rabbet pla­ne (skew or s­traight iron)­. Wedge needs to wor­k.
  • Card scraper.
  • Large router pla­ne, such as S­tanley No. 71 or No­. 71-1/2.
  • Hand drill, so­metimes called an “eg­gbeater,” such a­s a Millers Fa­lls No. 2 or 5 wit­h a 1/4” chuck an­d intact chuc­k springs (i.e­. the jaws are sprin­g-loaded and wor­k)
  • Brace with a 10” swe­ep. Good chuc­k with its sprin­gs still intac­t and a tight pad­.
  • Bevel-edge chi­sels with woo­den handles (1/4”, 1­/2” and 3/4”)­.
  • 16 oz. hammer wit­h a wooden han­dle. Striking fa­ce should be smo­oth and slightly crowned.
  • Squarehead jo­iner’s mallet. We can make these during the class.
  • 12” combinati­on square that is s­quare, locks tig­ht and has cle­ar markings.
  • Marking gauge­. The metallic o­nes, such as t­he Stanley No­. 90, are pre­ferred.
  • Backsaw with a 10”- to 1­4”-long blade. Stra­ight saw plate, com­fortable wooden han­dle and little or no rus­t.
  • Coping saw that t­akes pin-end bla­des and locks tig­ht.
  • 10” cabinet ras­p (older and shar­p is better).

Materials are included in the price of the class.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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7 Responses to The Return of the ‘Baby Anarchist’ Class

  1. 52woodbutcher says:

    Chris, will Mike be accepting monetary donations to help defray costs? I believe he did so last time he offered this class. Best regards, Wes


  2. adumbiam says:

    As a previous attendee – highly, highly recommend!!!


  3. Nate says:

    I was one of the lucky few to join Mike’s first class offering last year. Spending five days woodworking, learning, sleeping, drinking, and urinating in Mike’s backyard is a like a mix of attending Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and an experiencing an 1800’s joinery apprenticeship.

    As he looks over your bench observing your work, he’ll be sure to tell you if you’re doing it right; although, don’t be offended when he tells you (it feels like yelling), “Don’t plane the line, damn it!” Rest assured though, your classmates will admit later they were happy you were the one to get yelled at and not them. It’s this mix of camaraderie, fear, and shared passion combined with Mike’s knowledge, intellect, humor, and command of both his shop and audience that makes this worth every dollar you’ll spend.


  4. birdsonfire says:

    I also attended last year. Mike generously opened up his yard to us for camping, and opened his house for meals and showers. Mike knows woodworking, but more importantly, he knows how to teach woodworking. The reason for everything we were doing was explained thoroughly, and if there were multiple good ways to accomplish the same tasks, he’d show us all of them. Even with every bench in his shop full, he somehow managed to get around to all of us personally throughout the entire process.

    If you want to really learn the foundations of handtool working, you’ll never find a better opportunity than this class. You’ll also get a quick lesson in deadpan cornball humor and the chance to learn fascinating hammer based drinking games. I drove for two days to get there, and it was still worth it!


  5. I was the one who planed the damn line… but I’m learning! Like Nate and Adam above I would highly recommend spending a week with Mike. He’s a wealth of woodworking and worldly knowledge and a riot to boot.


  6. As yet ANOTHER attendee of last summer’s session, I’d like to chime in and wholeheartedly endorse the above. It was like the most interesting parts of shop class with the world’s best shop teacher, but we could drink beer and didn’t get yelled at for cussing. I don’t usually get all woo-woo mystical but I consider it a formative experience and I thought I was pretty well done with those.


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