Hand Tool Immersion 101


A few years back, Christopher Schwarz taught a handful of what he affectionately calls “the baby anarchist’s tool chest class.” The premise was to help build the woodworking community by offering to young would-be hand-tool woodworkers a low-cost class to jump-start their skills. These classes involved an intensive week of tuning up old tools, then learning to wield them while building a simpler version of his “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” in which to keep them, and little sleep or showering (because: camping).

Since Chris has stepped back from teaching, Mike Siemsen has taken up the baby anarchist baton, and is (for I think the third year) offering much the same at his Minnesota school. The 2018 “Hand Tool Immersion 101” class is May 7-11, and costs $650 (materials included). Mike is offering free camping and communal dinner prep on site. And bathrooms and showers. Because Mike spoils his students.

Find out more at the Mike Siemsen School of Woodworking website.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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8 Responses to Hand Tool Immersion 101

  1. nbreidinger says:

    I know they’ve requested decent user tools for donation in the past – are they still looking for those?


  2. Ron Kanter says:

    Doesn’t look like the class is for kids.
    And the dates of the class wouldn’t work for anyone still in school.


    • Simon says:

      It’s not for kids: I don’t think it’s really for students either, but more for folks in their 20s or 30s interested in hand tool woodworking.

      I’ve always figured the “baby anarchist” piece is more about being a baby in comparison to the woodworking community (which tends to skew a bit older) and maybe also in terms of specifically being a baby anarchist, just starting to dip a toe in the sort of self reliant skeptical political pool.


  3. Brian Hall says:

    I attended last year’s class and give it a hearty thumbs up!. It’s definitely not for “kids,” but well suited for young adults wanting to get their feet wet in woodworking with a worthwhile project to bring home. In my class, there were 3 or 4 of us who were of “older vintage” with more free time on our hands, and the rest were in their 20s and eager to learn. It was a great class! Mike is a very down to earth guy, very knowledgable, with good instructor technique. The shop was open 24 hrs a day, so we could take your time and collaborate with each other. Combined with dining together “family style” in Mike’s house and camping onsite, we spent a couple nights in the shop and/or by a campfire till midnight. Mike has come up with a winning combination that promotes enthusiasm for woodworking, good technique, and fellowship.

    I’ve been using the toolchest for a year, and can honestly say it easily fits about 90% of the tools I use in the workshop (don’t tell my wife.) I’ll be bringing it with me in a few months when I attend Megan’s toolchest class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.


  4. Bob Jones says:

    Last sentence – Mike not Mile. Gotcha 😄


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