We now have “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” back in stock in our Indiana warehouse. This is the 12th printing of this little 6” x 9” book, which allowed me to quit my corporate job and has helped fund all of the books in our roster in some way.
I owe thanks to all the readers who have bought copies – for themselves, friends and relatives. I’m told that the book has helped people quit their jobs, renewed their love of woodworking and shown them a path in the craft that doesn’t require a warehouse full of machinery.
And I also tip my hat to the critics, many of whom never read the book, but were so turned off by the book’s title that they foamed at the mouth. Your rabies made other people curious.
The Bad Idea
Earlier this year I went to Chicago to visit my friend Narayan Nayar, who took some of the beautiful photos in the book, and we went out for tacos (one of five meals we ate that day). As the snow fell outside of the Oak Park taco joint, I laid out some of the book ideas that had been brewing in my head for the last 12 months.
Narayan is a good listener and lets me wind it all out without interrupting. Some (OK, many) of my book ideas are daft. And when I pitch ideas to other people they come in with the long knives before I can explain myself.
One of the book ideas was a 10th anniversary edition of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” The front of the book would get some mild updates. The back of the book – on building the chest – would be completely redone. I’ve built so many of these chests that I’ve come up with many simpler ways to do some of the operations. I’ve made small changes to the skirts and lid. The chest is now easier to build and looks better.
Plus, the new edition would also contain plans for the Dutch tool chest. It was my original goal when writing the book to have two tool chest plans. Just like I had two workbench plans in “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use.” But “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” got so lengthy after building one tool chest that I decided to omit it.
I published the Dutch tool chest in Popular Woodworking Magazine in a short article. And lots of other people have built it – it might be my most successful project. But I’ve never gotten to fully explain the design (there was no room in the magazine article), its origin and its many variants.
After I pitched all this to Narayan, he asked me a question. That question made something click in my head. Narayan joked that he actually could hear the click from across the table.
The anniversary edition will have to wait – maybe for the 15th or 20th anniversary. Narayan’s question set me off on another book idea that has consumed all my evenings since.
— Christopher Schwarz
56 thoughts on “Back in Stock: ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ (and a Bad Idea)”
Spontaneous Redirection: happens to the highly creative and the elderly. Awesome in the former, in the latter…just another moment in the life of a geriatric. I may have once been the former. What? Squirrel!
It would be great if you could publish your updated Anarchist’s Tool Chest build changes for those of us that have your book but haven’t started our build yet. I’d be willing to buy a video or some sort of short reference explaining the revisions.I may not be around when you publish that 20th anniversary edition.
I promise I will try. I might not be around myself for the 20th anniversary. Too much to do when you run your own business.
I’ve seen quite a few blog posts over the years on adjustments to the chest. Do you think most of the changes you’ve made have been covered to some degree on the blog?
Some were. Not all. Maybe Megan and I can put our heads together and come up with a list of mods.
Chris, A “book” on all the updates would be quite helpful to the woodworkers that are just coming aboard the LAP journey. Not to add more to this but would to also add the Dutch Tool Chest add on with the wheels? But, yes another, a new ATC complete book would make quite an addition to any woodworkers library. Ralph
Now that was a masterful bit of marketing. I want to read the revised edition of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest as soon as I finish reading the The Anarchist’s Design Book: Expanded Edition. That other idea better be pretty good. I look forward to both of them.
The tease! Anything that could cause you to table those fabulous update ideas has got to be good! Looking forward to it-
My wife recently purchased ATC for me and it’s consumed most of my own evenings.
I do have a suggestion, but not about a change to the book (though your ideas sound great). You’ve previously listed the order you might recommend someone purchase their first few LAP books. I’d recommend this go toward the top of that list. The Essential Woodworker, for example, is fantastic but ATC told me what I needed in order to employ the techniques found in that book. Oh, and it also told me not to buy the steel straightedge (referenced in TEW) that I had purchased only days earlier (and still love, thus disobeying you).
So just a plea for more self-promotion when someone asks you “Why these books? In What order?”
“ATC for each member of your family” is a good answer.
Anarchist Bench Book! Genius
Tease. I hate you right now.
It’s “The Anarchist’s Bird House Book.” Happy now?
Yes. Yes I am.
You did the giant handplane birdhouse from Liberty. Time for an Anarchist’s Tool Chest Birdhouse. The Dutch version is better for up north, so the snow can slide off.
It should really be an edited volume. You can do a chapter on the ABH. Get Peter Follansbee to do a 17th century riven-oak byrd hous. Mary May’s version will no doubt also feature carved foliage and the whole tree, carved from a larger tree. Roy Underhill’s version will actually exist in four dimensions, but through a clever trick can be collapsed down to three.
I would definitely buy the expanded version of the ATC. (And, yes, I own the origional.) The additions you mentioned are exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Alright, I’ll bite, what was the question?
“You gonna eat that taco?”
No. That wasn’t it. Can’t say. I hate to be a tease. But this book might go nowhere. So I’m going to keep my mouth shut (for once) for competitive reasons.
Resistance is futile… I want the expanded version…but is the expanded version a new first edition?
Really, Chris? You are going to leave us hanging? I’m on tenterhooks.
now I have to look up what a tenterhook is
Was the question: Why not write The Traveling Anarchist’s Tool Chests, includes plans for a smaller version of the big boy with easier to build steps and operations plus the Dutch Tool plans and build? Great for those with limited space and want a limited bare essentials toolkit.
If not, I’d settle for the birdhouse book you replied to John about.
I have been patiently(?) waiting for you to publish something at LAP on the Dutch Toolchest . I believe , through this tease , that my wait may be coming to an end . So , yes , I will buy the book . On a completely separate topic I just finished building the Low Boarded Bench . What a fun project ! I have requests from family member for two more 🙂 …
Don’t wait, build your DTC now. The hardware from Lee Valley will cost more than the wood from the home center. It really is an approachable (read easy) project to do solo. After building one with home center wood, you’ll get a real feel for any aesthetic upgrades you may want to incorporate on a more elegant version.
Wood + off the shelf hardware brings the cost in under US $100. 🙂
Thank you! I am one of those who purchased and was given a copy of ATC. It gave me the courage to start into learning about woodworking and confidence that I could learn it. A bad idea of yours is better than a lot of the published tomes I have endured. Keep up the excellent work!
I am one of those who purchased and then was given a copy, which I shared, of ATC. It gave me the courage to learn about woodworking and the confidence to try. One your daft ideas is better than some the published tomes I have endured. Keep up the excellent work!
So is my 1st Edition ATC a collector’s item now? Is it worth thousands of dollars? I’m looking forward to finding out what the question was.
The title actually made me curious. I didn’t see it as a political title. The information inside is like the credit card commercial says! I am about half way thru the book and have found a lot of great advice!. I have purchased 4 LAP books and love the quality. I love the feel of a good book. This is second to none. I now have my eyes set on Becksvoorts book on Wood movement…….
As much as I love a nice fat book I don’t think bigger is always better. My favorite LAP title is Essential Woodworker which is instructive, easy to follow and only 250 pages. Door and Window Making is a great reference at less than 100. The meat of Campaign Furniture is close to 250.
ATC is 400, 450? You don’t need to add any chapters. Do what you want to do, but I’d prefer a new title.
The door and window book is a fantastic gem! I’m surprised I don’t hear more about it in wild.
I just re-watched Roy Underhill’s show on PBS on making window sash – is that how it’s said? Then looked for sash planes on the internet.
Chris, both me and Rudy are tremendously looking forward to the The Anarchist´s Boobie Chair Book!
Dammit. That was Narayan’s question.
“Do you like man boobies?”
And now the quest begins!
I knew it!
„50 shades of Schwarz“
I don’t know if I should build a statue in your honor, or unleash the pitchfork bearing villagers upon you. 🙁 🙂
Not mutually exclusive…
Anarchist beer breewing Book?
As far as friends go, Narayan is a truly unique friend with impressive perspective. In comparison to you, I barely know him. I am genuinely grateful that I do.
A new idea is intoxicating. Good luck to you during this journey.
I’m definitely intrigued! I would love to see a book (or series of posts) on workshop workflow that isn’t centered around a table saw. I love my Dutch Tool Chest (place to store my tools), Roy’s Nail Cabinet (place to store my fasteners), and Knockdown Nicholson Workbench (place for my joinery). Maybe the next step is the workshop itself!
I have the feeling that he asked about including the ADB boarded tool chest instead. History of tool chests inbound?
My copy is among my favorite books! Just curious though, my copy has a red cover and all the others are black. Was this an anniversary edition earlier?
We did a red cover at five years. Just because.
“The Dutch Anarchist’s Tool Chest”. Whats a dutch anarchist, someone who pays both bills when they go out to eat?
I bought ATC a year ago and haven’t built the chest because I am torn between building that or the dutch chest (your Lie Nielsen video)
I was traveling from Albuquerque to Chicago right after I bought the first edition of the book. I had upgraded to first class and I began reading the book after taking off. The gentleman setting next to me was a bit concerned since I was up front in the plane and he mistook the book title for “The Anarchist cookbook”, the crazy book with recipes for making anti social devices. I explained to him I was perfectly safe and not a dangerous malcontent. You may have heard similar stories but I still chuckle over the guys genuine concern.
We have many stories like that. Try shipping a book with that title to a military base….
I am in the middle of building mine. I did notice a lot of process changes after following Megan on Instagram, and she was even nice enough to answer one or two of my questions about the changes. One of which was less dovetails since it’s going to be painted, another was gluing the bottom skirt on prior to nailing the bottom on. Using Instagram to see how others have built it since and following you and Megan have really helped a lot. Cheers and hope to see you at Handworks!
I remember towards the end of the book, you mentioned a few stories/incidents that lead you down this path; one you wrote in the book, and one you mentioned you’d have to wait another 10 years to tell. Would you include that in the expanded edition?
Please update the ATC. I have both copies of the design book and laughed all the way through the ATC. Maybe you could add some tool lists for chair makers or some advice on gouges. Thank you again for everything you do. It is all great.
How about Eric Sloane? He doesn’t come up alot here. It would be so nice to see his work published in a more careful manner.
Whoa. Easy there.
If only more people had the capacity for listening the way Narayan did that day!
I had my wallet half out of my hip pocket when I got to the end of the article. I own the original, have the DTC article, and would buy the anniversary edition in a heartbeat. Whatever you are planning instead must be pretty good.
“I’m told that the book has helped people quit their jobs”
Unfortunately, ATC has yet to help me quit my job, if anything it’s only made being chained in this cubicle staring at the moving shadows on the computer screen (Plato’s allegory of the cave) all the more maddening. Still, in many ways it marked a turning point in my mind, if not in my life. And even though I remain, sitting here in the dark, I hold on to the hope that maybe, just maybe the rantings of a mad madman are in fact the encouraging proddings of one who, having escaped the corporate cave, now stands just outside, calling to the rest of us to step out into the fresh air and the light.
They’ve been doing this for years with the Beatles and Stones. Every anniversary there is a new repackaged or remastered version of the White album, Beggars Banquet, etc. I would not go there. Rock n rollers loose creative juices in they’re 30’s. Woodworkers stay creative into their 60’s (or longer). So be creative and see what new stuff comes out.
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