Editing ‘The Intelligent Hand’


I’m in Austria this week with my family. And while they sleep – Lucy is curled up beside me now – I can’t help but continue editing, sketching and writing.

Right now I’m near the end of editing David Savage’s “The Intelligent Hand.” It’s a most unusual book that will cause much gnashing of teeth and stirring of the trolls beneath the bridge (don’t let them snatch your Cheetos). I think you’ll love it.

At first, however, Megan Fitzpatrick wasn’t so sure.

She gave it a first edit two months ago and said to me several times: You’re not going to like what he says about workbenches. Or sharpening. Or tool steel. Or tools….

The truth is, I adore the book, and I especially love publishing books that don’t fit neatly my view of the craft or benches or tools. In fact, as an editor I consider it a joy and a duty – a noblesse oblige – to seek out perspectives different than mine. To promote them and give them time in the sun.

This approach is not intended to confuse you. It is, instead, an effort to illustrate that we are all myopic, no matter how open-minded we think we are. It’s easy (and perhaps comforting) to surround ourselves with people who see the world similarly. And ignore other perspectives.

But when we do this, it’s a hell of a lot harder to grow as a builder. Or as a person.

If you can look at David Savage’s designs and his 40-plus years of work and say he’s full of crap, then you need to take a critical look at yourself in the mirror. I have no lack of confidence in the way I feel about how I approach the craft. Neither does David, John Brown, Mary May, Don Williams, Peter Galbert, Andre Roubo or any of our authors.

If you let their ideas in, and if you try to see the world from their perspective, then hell, you might learn something.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. “The Intelligent Hand” is scheduled for a September 2018 release.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to Editing ‘The Intelligent Hand’

  1. fitz says:

    True – but I did say I thought it was going to be a great book! (And you really should get some rest on your vacation…)


    • toolnut says:

      To clarify, when you told Chris he wouldn’t like it, you were speaking to how Chris (and Chris alone) would react to the subject matter listed above ( because we all know he has very strong opinions on the subjects) and you were not saying he wouldn’t be happy with what David produced for the masses. Correct?

      (This kind of dovetails with Tony Z’s comment below.)


      • I won’t speak for Megan, but I think she was saying: You’re not going to like these opinions.

        Also, the book is structured unlike a traditional woodworking book – things are out of order from a traditional point of view. But they make perfect sense in David’s mind (and mine).

        This book will upset people. And inspire. But it won’t be difficult to read.


      • fitz says:

        I should not have said “not going to like”; what I should have said was, “his thoughts on X are different than yours” – and like Chris, I appreciate differences in technique, opinion, etc. It’s how we learn!


  2. hgordon4 says:

    Confirmation bias is an insidious thing.
    But then again, you just confirmed my view that seeking out other viewpoints is important…


  3. boclocks says:

    I want it already! I usually have to research every approach I can find before doing something; therefore, I mostly do research!

    Oh well, it’s fun.


  4. nrhiller says:

    Intrigued. Will definitely buy this book.


  5. Hi Chris where in Australia are you vacationing. Most folks from the US go to the East Coast, I was lucky enough to live there for 15 years mostly on the West Coast Perth to be exact. I am sure you will take the time to check out the great wood over there. My middle daughter still lives there while oldest lives in NZ and I now live in HOT TX. I hope your family and you have a great time. Try the sausages over there and the meat pies oh the sausage rolls.


    • Rick De Roque says:

      I believe he is in “Austria” not “Australia” but either would be a great pkace to visit


  6. don2laughs says:

    Chris, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Open-mindedness is what opened the door to your ideas and, though I appreciate your writing skill & approach immensely, there are some of your woodworking ideas I’ve heard but not heeded because my contrary ideas have been proven through my use & experience. As for David Savage, I’ve heard some of his philosophy and will be happy to buy his book…..even though Megan’s comment holds weight with me, too. So….when is the doggone thang gonna be out??


  7. Anthony says:

    Well said, enjoy the time with your family.


  8. T-bone hags says:

    I concur.


  9. Tony Zaffuto says:

    But is the book readable or is it tedious to get through that has caused Megan’s consternation? I have to read (or keep up with!) enough overly technical stuff for work, that for my hobby, I place high value on styles such as Wearing, Hayward and your anarchist tool chest work.


  10. John says:

    An open mind is like an open opportunity, and what is the other half of the proverb; Doing something the same way and expecting different results is?


  11. Mr. A says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. The truth is, we frequently surround ourselves with people agree with our view of the craft. Dissenting views often unmask insecurities or long held ideas of what ought to be.


  12. Mike Siemsen says:

    Maybe a book on skinning cats? I hear there is more than one way!


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