I have a love-hate relationship with “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” the book (now in its eighth printing) that inspired our new “Make a Traditional English Tool Chest” DVD set and download video with Christopher Schwarz. You see, that’s the book that gave him the impetus to step down as editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, to devote all his work-related energy to Lost Art Press. And while I eventually got his job (which most days feels like a good thing), I miss working with Christopher every day – his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the craft was a constant inspiration to me (it remains so…but I don’t get to bask in it as often).
On the other hand, Christopher’s book remains one of the most inspiring woodworking books I’ve read. And I’ve read it many times…because I copy edited it, then copy edited it again (and I think a third time…it’s hard to remember now), then re-read the build sections again and again as I made my own tool chest. But it’s the philosophy sections that resonate most for me – his manifesto that woodworking is a subversive act, and that tools are at the center of an ethical life. Anyway, you should read it (and know that I have absolutely no financial stake in your doing so).
But if you just want to build a traditional tool chest and/or listen to and watch how to do it rather than read about it, I highly recommend “Make a Traditional Tool Chest” – it is sometimes easier and/or faster to learn by watching then doing, than by reading about it, because you can better see how the maker is holding and using a tool. Also, Christopher is funny on camera, and keeps you entertained while he works with interesting history lessons on woodworking tools and techniques.
Still, I recommend both reading and watching. Then making.