Fair Woodworking

February 22, 2014

A dumb, dumbs guide to Anarchy

Just for the record.

I do own the book “The Anarchist Tool Chest”.

I read it a couple of years ago.

I’d had a couple of drinks before I wrote this last night…

and I’m pretty frigg’in smart when I’m tipsy,

This shouldn’t be too complicated, or it could be the rum… but here is my take on it.

Anarchy, as it relates to tool chests does not equate to chaos, it is not about burning cars in the street, riots and looting, STOP THINKING THAT WAY, THAT’S NOT WHAT IT IS ABOUT!!! While the modern day man is barely smart enough to get his shoes on the right feet, the modern day Anarchist is striving to reclaim skills that the old world man thought everybody was born with. Yes these skills were passed on from generation to generation, but the last couple of generations were instead taught that they were not smart enough, were not skilled enough, and the world is better off with cheap disposable EVERYTHING rather than quality possessions that could be passed on from generation to generation, along with the lessons they teach.

This kind of anarchy is about seeing what the world sees as the norm that is also what is wrong with the world and going in the other direction.

If you can’t wrap your brain around anarchy in this concept, find a different word that does emulate this concept. Forget the word anarchy. FORGET THE WORD ANARCHY!!! Find a new word like Kittens, or Bunnies, or Rainbows. “The Kitten Tool Chest” lacks the same punch, and might be illegal, but you do what you got to do.

I am sick to death with people complaining that they don’t agree with people bombing stuff. READ THE FRIGG’IN BOOK FOR WHAT IT SAYS, NOT FOR WHAT YOU’VE ALREADY DECIDED IT SAYS.

As to the latest of review to the ATC, it’s clear that the writer does not have a lot of faith in the amateur woodworker in solving the worlds problems. I agree with his point, but I don’t think he made it totally clear what the problem is. I don’t see myself as a woodworking expert, but in comparison to every soul that calls themselves a woodworker, I think I would rate in the upper half or higher. That is not pride speaking, it’s the belief that the majority of people that call themselves woodworkers are mostly armchair woodworkers. I agree that most woodworkers still don’t know the meaning of sharp, and although I can achieve pretty wicked sharp, I doubt I know the meaning of sharp myself. (that is not good if I really am in the upper half of woodworkers…)

I also agree that most of LV and LN tools are wasted on people that will never EVER manage to get them to a fully functional working condition, and that saddens me.

Anarchy is about striving for greatness in woodworking for the sake of the craft. Anarchy is about passing our craft to the next generation for the SAKE OF THE CRAFT. Anarchy in the idea of the tool chest is NOT FOR THE WEAK AND THE PETTY, it is for those that are willing to set aside quick personal gratification, and strive for woodworking greatness for the sake of passing it on to the next woodworking generation. If you are not capable/willing to master the simple gateway task of sharpening, you are not going to make a great anarchist, and perhaps you should take up knitting.

And what of most professional woodworkers? I work in construction, and my most skilled woodworkers really, and truly believe that if you want a sharp chisel, you go to Home Depot and buy a new chisel. When it get’s “dull”, you go back to Home Depot, and buy another new chisel! That’s what has been passed on from generation, to generation.

Despite this, the properly trained professional woodworker is incapable of perpetuating the role of the anarchist, because our “Ikea” world cannot comprehend the value of what they are doing, and so, will not pay what it is worth. Without the financial backing of the “Ikea” generation, the professional has no clientele, and will find themselves out of business.

The single hope of the Anarchist ideal is that the arm-chair woodworkers of the world, get their Asses into their over tooled workshops and actually become proficient with the thousands of dollars of tools they have sitting on their tool shelves and tool chests in basements and garages around the world.

Only the amateur woodworker can afford to build without compromise, and so it is the amateur that must “keep the faith”. And to keep the faith, they are going to need to learn how to use their tools!

Woodworking can be an expensive hobby. Between the tools and the wood itself, this hobby is often limited to those with extra disposable income, and while some of the “Wealthy” woodworkers of the world may be teachers, lawyers, and doctors, I am a high school dropout. I come from a dirt poor single parent home, and I worked my Ass off to attain the funds that make this hobby, and my semi-modest lifestyle possible. Having some disposable income does not define us as sellouts, or hypocrites. Some of us have just learned to be smart with our money, and don’t spend money we don’t have.  I believe that I, just as any doctor or lawyer, has earned the right to make a “political” statement by building every project with every single ounce of excellence I am capable of. I do this in the slight hope that maybe one, just one person in my lifetime might see that the product of my many hours of work are not one of many millions of cheaply made Ikea products with some stupid name from Sweden. My hope is that one day someone either friend or family will say, “don’t throw that out! That piece is special!” NOT BECAUSE I MADE IT, not for my sake. For the sake of this beautiful, wonderful thing we call woodworking.


Working with real wood, not fiberboard, not with a computer. Not made by hardworking Ikea employees that are not even aware of what the finished product will be.

Woodworking by some ding-dong who also writes for a blog called Fairwoodworking.

So go ahead and keep complaining about how the world has done you wrong, Chris has offended you, I’m a weeny, and rich people have all the luck, your mother loved your sister more, and you are not as popular as the next blogger. I guess it sucks to be you. But in this case, I don’t care about you, I care about the woodworking you do and the efforts you actually make to save this craft that could very well die at the end of our generation.

Just get out there and build something as well as you can. Soberly look at what you did wrong and try it again until you are awesome at it. Then help someone else be awesome too.



When I find you I’m going to grab you by the scruff of the neck and, uh…  hey, I love you man!

Did I ever tell you you’re the best.., and I LOVE YOU!



  1. While I liked the Anarchists Tool Chest as a book on tools, I didn’t see it as a bible for the home woodworker. Anarchy? Like you said, woodworking is an expensive hobby, and like you, I came from a broken home; in a north Philly ghetto. Funny how the only people who can be anarchists by Christopher Schwarz’s ideology and recommendations are people who have the capital to do it. The recommended tool set in the Anarchists Tool chest runs upwards of five grand minimum. Despite what everybody says, you aren’t finding half of those tools used, and if you do manage to find them, the skill and time needed to restore a full or half set of ancient tools really only belongs to highly experience pros and super advanced amateurs whose time spent woodworking borders on second-job level of commitment. People like me, like us, who work 60+ hours a week in the real world with a house to run and family to provide for can never be “anarchists” by Schwarz’s definition, we would have to quit our jobs to do it. A typical project takes me months to finish, and not because I’m unskilled, but because I have other responsibilities. Maybe that makes me a detriment to “the craft”, but I don’t make furniture for political statements, or to preserve tradition, I make furniture mostly because I like doing it, I need it, and I cannot afford to hire an anarchist artisan craftsman to build it for me.
    The description/definition of anarchy Christopher Schwarz gives may very well fit the bill in his world. His circle of friends includes businessmen, doctors, lawyers, publishers, writers, and high end professional woodworkers. For much of that group, all capitalists for the most part, working with your hands and building your furniture or fixing your own car may be a new and exciting world that goes against everything they ever knew, but for many parts of the country this is just a normal way of life starting with the typical family farm and expanding outward. Building furniture may be high-level anarchy for a guy like Schwarz, but for the guy who built a table because he couldn’t afford to buy one it was just another part of his day, and that isn’t to say that guy isn’t proud of what he does, but it does not make him an anarchist.
    Here again, I don’t care what anybody does for a living, be it doctor, lawyer, or fry cook, I have my own problems to deal with. But I don’t take too kindly to some guy with a $20,000 tool set telling me on a woodworking forum that I need to get rid of my table saw. Unfortunately, the Anarchists Tool Chest somehow managed to bring every woodworking jerk “out of the woodwork” and somehow gave them the “responsibility” of telling everybody else why they are ruining “the craft”. That is my problem with the book.

    Comment by billlattpa — February 22, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

    • Dude. Go back and read the prologue. Just take a deep breath and read the prologue. I don’t know, perhaps have a nice soothing tea first, or do some yoga. Not into yoga? Go for a walk calm yourself down, and actually read what was written in the prologue.

      And just so you know. The secret Anarchist decoder rings that everyone on the forums are waving around? Pretty sure they are not Schwarz approved. The fact that a million idiots have infested the comment section of his blog does not make Chris the spawn of satan, and it does not mean his book was written as a personal attack against you. If you read the prologue carefully you may even (spoiler alert!!) discover that you can probably already call yourself an Anarchist.

      I’m personally really getting tired of all the labels.

      More on that later.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — February 22, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

      • I don’t blame Schwarz for his disciples. I have nothing against him whatsoever and I honestly hope that his company becomes a huge success story.
        It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so give me some room, but if I remember the prologue rightly it spoke of “aesthetic anarchy”. I don’t even know what that means. Of course it fits his own description and definition, he’s the one who wrote it and published it. I don’t agree with his “plan”. I think telling amateur woodworkers that unless they do things the way he and a few others think they should be done is nonsense. The book is a tool selection guide, and a good one, and that’s all I want from it. Guys like Savage are twits that hide behind bad humor with really poor writing that is supposed to be profound and hip but really just isn’t very good or entertaining. He thinks that amateurs suck, and most do, but I would love to see him stop taking their money because just like the over priced tools they bought that somehow offend him, his classes won’t do them any good either.
        You “got” the book and the message; that’s cool. I really didn’t. It created way too many hard feelings in the “community” for my taste.

        Comment by billlattpa — February 22, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

  2. I love your contention that “Only the amateur woodworker can afford to build without compromise”. What a great statement! I think that’s why I’m drawn to working with wood – the idea that you can make something to suit your needs, rather that what most might prefer.
    Haven’t read the book – don’t think I’m ready for it yet.

    Comment by Brad — February 25, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    • You should read the book. It’s really a good read, but only if you give peace a chance.

      Comment by fairwoodworking — February 25, 2014 @ 6:27 pm

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