You can now order and read a French translation of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” from the publisher Editions du Vieux Chene. The hardbound book is 52€ and is currently in stock and shipping.
In addition to translating the book to French, the publishers have made some manufacturing upgrades to the title. The Lost Art Press edition is 6” x 9” and printed on uncoated paper. The Editions du Vieux Chene version is 8-1/8” x 10-13/16”. The text is printed on heavy coated paper and the book blocks are sewn for durability. The hardboards are covered in gloss paper.
The publishers have kept the flavor of the layout, however, using a label-maker to create the chapter headings. It is, all in all, a nice edition.
And if French isn’t your tongue, don’t forget that the book is also available in German through HolzWerken. We are currently in negotiations to translate the title into Squirrel and Poodle.
The Anarchist’s Tool Chest poster was a letterpress project we did with the now-defunct Steam Whistle Letterpress and Randall Wilkins. Randy drew the image, and Steam Whistle printed the image on its proofing press. We’ve long sold out of the posters, and Steam Whistle has dissolved.
So now you can download a high-resolution image here and get it printed out at any print shop that can handle poster-sized jobs. This poster is 18” x 24”, a standard poster size and the size of the original.
If your local print shop is concerned about copyright violations, bless them. Print out this blog entry and show it to the employees. Lost Art Press is the copyright holder, and we grant you permission to print this out for your personal use.
The 10-year Anniversary of ATC It dawned on me recently that we are coming up on the 10th anniversary of the publication of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” You can be sure that we are planning on making a bunch of worthless trinkets for you to buy to commemorate the meaningless passage of time going to do very little to mark the occasion.
We are thinking about making a special baseball cap – something handmade in the USA – with an old-fashioned felt patch featuring the cover logo. But honestly, we might skip that.
What I am doing to mark the occasion is something I would encourage you to do as well: I am packing up tools that I don’t need and finding new homes for them. Recently I gave away an old tool chest, a dust collector and a thickness planer. I now have another box of tools ready and have several people in mind for them. (Hint: No need to pester me for free tools.)
Excess tools are a scourge. Taking care of them takes time away from my furniture making. And leaving tools idle keeps them out of the hands of people who could use them.
Where do my excess tools come from? Good question. Sometimes they are given to the shop as gifts. Sometimes when someone leaves the craft, they give us their tools to give to others. Sometimes locals find tools in the cellar and drop them off. And occasionally I need to buy a tool for an article or book or photo shoot I’m working on.
If you’ve never given away your excess tools, I recommend it. It’s cathartic.
Anyway, in the coming months we’ll soon have many more pieces of plastic junk from Oriental Trading Company branded with the ATC logo for you to buy and throw away we might have some news about that hat.
Shortly after “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” was released I got a nasty call from a reader.
“I’m a graphic designer. I own other Lost Art Press books,” he said. “And I have to say this new book has a terrible, amateurish design.”
“Exactly right,” I replied.
Each of the three books in the “anarchist” series takes its design cues from different points in history, reflecting something about the book’s content or storyline. (This is true for all of our books; we don’t have a house style.)
“The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” is supposed to look like a manifesto set on a Macintosh. The chapter headings were made with a clicky label maker. The body copy is 11-point Cochin, a free font, and is set on a 17-point baseline (way too much space between the lines). The font used for the quotations is Courier 8 point, another freely available font.
From a broader perspective, the book doesn’t have a formal “grid,” which is the underlying structure used by most page designers when setting columns, photos and drawings. Photos intrude into the body copy in awkward ways. Yet, the book is (I think) still readable from a typographical perspective.
For the second book, “The Anarchist’s Design Book,” I looked to 18th-century pattern books and 17th-century texts. The book’s physical size is the same as Andre Felibien’s “Des Principes de l’Architecture…” The body copy is Caslon 12 point (on 13-point leading). Caslon is from the early 18th century (circa 1722). The style of the subheadings, the drop capitals and even the running heads on the pages are all ideas swiped from early books.
Plus, of course, the book’s copperplate etchings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs add to the overall older feel to the book. The idea behind the book design (and the book itself) was to treat vernacular furniture with the same respect as the high-style stuff.
The third book, “The Anarchist’s Workbench” (download it for free here), is from an entirely different place. It is meant to echo the books of the early 20th century that were set with Linotype machines. The body copy is, again Caslon, but the letters are set tighter. The type is 10.5 point on 12-point leading. In fact, all of the text in the book (except the data page at the front with the ISBN) is set in some form of Caslon – a common feature of books of this time.
Unlike the other two books, the text is carefully justified to look more formal and present letterspacing that looks like it was done by a real designer. The images and text are locked to a rigid grid system. The design is (supposed to look) mature. And that mature design is supposed to reflect the ideas in the book (poo jokes aside).
Apologies for the “behind the scenes” content. I get asked sometimes why our books look so different. This is why.
At first glance, the workbench in “The Anarchist’s Workbench” appears to be almost identical to the bench I built in 2005, which has shown up in a number of magazines and books. It’s chunky, made from yellow pine and the workholding is a leg vise, planing stop and holdfasts.
Despite their similarities, the workbench plan in this book is a significant improvement. During the last 15 years I have found better ways to laminate the top using fewer clamps, easier ways to make the massive joints, plus layout tricks here and there that result in tighter joints all around. The top is thicker, heavier and creates less waste when using 2×12 dimensional lumber.
The workholding is far more effective. Thanks to improvements in vise manufacturing and a mature understanding of how these leg vises work, the vise is strong enough to hold boards without the help of a sliding deadman. There is no parallel guide, so you can work at the vise without stooping. The planing stop uses a metal tooth, made by a blacksmith, that holds your work with a lot less sliding. And the pattern of holdfast holes in the top – something that took me years to get right – ensures there will almost always be a hole right where you need one.
The fact that the bench is similar to my bench from 2005 is somewhat of a comfort to me. It means I wasn’t too far off the mark when I began my journey. And equally remarkable is that 15 years of building workbenches of all different forms, from Roman benches to a miniature one from Denmark, wasn’t able to shake my conviction that a simple timber-framed bench is ideal for many woodworkers.
In addition to the fully matured workbench design, this book also dives a little deeper into the past to explore the origins of this form. I first encountered this type of bench in a French book from about 1774, and at the time I couldn’t find much else written about it. Since then, libraries and museums have digitized their collections and opened them to the public. So we’ve been able to trace its origins back another 200 years and found evidence it emerged somewhere in the Low Countries or northern France in the 1500s. We also have little doubt there are more discoveries to be made.
And finally, the story of this bench is deeply intertwined with my own story as a woodworker, researcher, publisher and – of course – aesthetic anarchist.
That’s why we’ve decided to give away the content of this book to the world at large. When it is released later this summer, the electronic version of the book will be free to download, reproduce and give away to friends. You can excerpt chapters for your woodworking club. Print it all out, bind it and give it away as a gift. The only thing you cannot do is sell it or make money off of it in any way.
If you prefer a nicely bound book instead of an electronic copy, we sympathize. That’s what we prefer, too. So we plan to print some copies of this book for people who prefer it in that format. Those will cost money to manufacture (we don’t make low-quality crap here at Lost Art Press) so we won’t be able to give those away. But we will sell them – as always – at a fair price for a book that is printed in the United States, sewn, bound in fiber tape and covered in a durable hardback.
This book is the final chapter in the “anarchist” series – “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “The Anarchist’s Design Book” and now “The Anarchist’s Workbench.” And it is (I hope) my last book on workbenches. So it seemed fitting that to thank all the woodworkers who have supported me during this journey, this book should belong to everyone.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. If this goes well, John and I are discussing making the other two books in the anarchist series free to download. We don’t know when (or exactly how) we will make that decision. But it is on the table.
This is the fifth printing of the book, which means there are about 15,000 copies in circulation. By publishing standards, that’s a sad failure. But for me, I couldn’t be happier.
As a young writer, I aspired to work for a major metropolitan newspaper with 500,000 people reading my stuff every day. Then, as a working journalist, I grew tired of documenting the failures and successes of others. I wanted to be the one to fail. And here I am, failing every dang day and somehow still eating (thanks for the cookies this week, Megan).
These books in the “anarchist” series – the tool chest book, the design book and the forthcoming workbench book – are as much about making furniture as they are about making a life outside the normal corporate structure.
And as a bonus, the stuff I write doesn’t end up lining the Birdcages of America. Right? It doesn’t, does it?