Christopher Schwarz is well-known in the woodworking industry, from his articles at Popular Woodworking, to his Lost Art Press publishing company.
You might have seen some of his books before, such as his book on workbench design, theory, construction, and use, which is available via Amazon.
I wrote about some of Schwarz’ “Anarchist” books before, and they’re quite good. They’re unlike any other woodworking or how-to books I’ve ever read before, and are somehow as conversational as they are informative.
Schwarz came out with a new book last year – The Anarchist’s Workbench. It seems I missed this news, as I only first learned of this book last night.
He describes The Anarchists’ Workbench as:
a detailed plan for a simple workbench that can be built using construction lumber and basic woodworking tools. But it’s also the story of Christopher Schwarz’s 20-year journey researching, building and refining historical workbenches until there was nothing left to improve.
There are two versions of The Anarchist’s Workbench – a hardcover copy, priced at $27, and a digital copy that Lost Art Press is giving away for free. That’s right, free, as in $0, and without any DRM or catches of any kind.
Why would Schwarz give this book away for free? In a blog post, he says that 1) he could afford to, 2) some people might hesitantly believe this new book too closely resembles his previous books, and so the free copy can serve as a sort of preview for them, and lastly:
Finally, I want this information – my last book on benches – to be free and widely available to everyone today and in the future. By putting it out there for free, I hope people will be inspired to build a bench, even if it’s not the bench in this book.
I’ve purchased some of the other books published by Lost Art Press, by the same and different authors, and they are very well-made. Even with a free PDF copy, I might eventually buy a hard copy (once I’m done with my currently very long reading list), and I imagine others will to.
I’ve read through some parts of The Anarchist’s Workbench already, and it’s an enjoyable book.
In this book, Schwarz discusses the how and why behind his design for a woodworking workbench sourced from home center lumber, and he also shares details about the personal and woodworking journey that has brought him here.
What is always refreshing about Schwarz’s writings these days is that he isn’t shackled by popular opinion, or the need to stay within anyone else’s lines.
This is a good book, and if it’s not quite your style, keep it in mind. Personally, I’m leaning towards a woodworking workbench direction I never would have thought I’d go in, and so never say never. If you like what you read, consider buying a physical copy.
Buy Now via Lee Valley
Buy Now via Lost Art Press
Where are the books made?
All of our books are printed in the United States on the best materials we can obtain. We manufacture all of our books to last at least a century. That means using expensive sewn bindings, fiber tape and thick hardbacks (when possible).
I’ve got several of his books including the ‘Roubo’ series and have taken the Tool Chest class. One of the better wood worker journo’s out there.
I’ve built an English and French workbench out of his ‘Workbenches’ book. I’m probably going to build one more French design this year but at half the length for my final shop bench.
I wish the typesetting would use the correct characters:
> 2×12 dimensional lumber.
would be better as:
> 2×12 dimensional lumber.
> 4′ x 10′ mirror.
> 4′ × 10′ mirror.
That first quote should have been:
>2×12 dimensional lumber.
edited it twice.
Actually no, web browser/text box/posting system automatically changed it.
Very confusing …
Koko The Talking Ape
So you’re saying they use “x” instead of “×”? Or what exactly are you saying? It’s literally impossible to tell from your comment.
Yes, they use the letter x rather than the correct symbol × — the auto-correct here obscured what I was trying to say.
I see what you mean, I think – letter x vs. cross product x?
Could have been this was done via PDF conversion.
It’s hard to see in many web fonts but the correct Unicode for math ( + × ÷ − ) and the prime ( ′ ) and double prime ( ″ ) look nicer.
No, the PDF was exported from Adobe InDesign (see the metadata)
You could always write to them and express your grievance about this. I would imagine that he’ll likely thank you for your suggestion and at least consider it.
For what it’s worth, I use the letter x. It’s simple and this is universally accepted notation. It also doesn’t require digging through different character maps (the multiplication and divisor symbols don’t appear in the condensed emoji character map that I could find).
It also facilitates searching – if a reader searches for 2x or 2 x , the intended instances come up. Realistically, nobody is going to think to search for 2 × or ⨯ .
(Side note, if you want to type special characters in web content, you need html codes. The symbols above are & times; and & #10799; for vector/cross product without spaces between the ampersand and number. ÷ is & divide;. There are also hex codes.)
With x, there aren’t any alt-codes to remember, not to mention they’re moot if I’m using a Mac laptop or other keyboard without a numberpad.
I am so happy (but on reflection, it really surprised) to find such good company in the overlapping Venn diagram of people obsessed with tools and people obsessed with typography.
I agree with reaching out to Lost Art Press, even if they don’t act on it, I predict a nice conversation.
The author founded his own publishing company in order to give writers more flexibility to do cool things like give away their work for free.
I think that’s pretty awesome, regardless of how much money/effort went into typesetting.
Great little find there. Thanks
Koko The Talking Ape
Downloading. After discovering his Popular Woodworking articles I bought several of his books. Great stuff.
Plan to build a woodworking bench this summer. Very interested to read Schwarz’ latest book. Knew it was coming but had lost track of it.
Many thanks Stuart
Mike (the other one)
You will make up for the free book in lumbar costs.
Thanks. I’m on chapter 3 now and it’s really well written.
I read his book last fall. Terrific read. I plan on rewarding the author and company by buying books this year. I hope to build this workbench in the next 12-24 months.
Unicode is pretty popular. However it is only a default on Linux and only because that OS originated from an EU country, and even then it wasn’t always this way even with Linux. It isn’t the default encoding for HTML for instance. The two competing “original” character sets were ASCII and EBCDIC. Frankly it’s a good thing EBCDIC died out. ASCII character set universally renders without errors on every system today. By that I mean the characters from at least ASCII 32 to 96 which includes upper and lower case, numbers, and most common symbols on American keyboards. Characters like a vowel umlaut (2 dots) aren’t included. SOME math symbols are in the extended ASCII set but not the math multiply symbol. Several non-printable signals are characters 0-31 and the stuff from 96 to 127 was reserved. Only 7 bits were used to support parity bits used as early error detection. IBM for the IBM PC created an “extended ASCII”. added as a proprietary extension (extended ASCII) by IBM for the IBM PC as a crossover from their very unpopular EBCDIC. It used the reserve characters plus everything up to 255. In addition to actual characters and symbols it included things like vertical and horizontal single and double bars and corners for drawing outlines of boxes on the screen without graphics. But IBM was competing with everybody else that had their own character sets before the IBM PC came along. Unicode is the latest effort but now since everything has gone to graphics the issue becomes not so much one of character sets (which still isn’t truly a settled issue) but one of fonts which are definitely not universal either. And this is even more frustrating for non-English speakers. It’s one thing to use say at least 2 of the 3 Japanese character sets because those are small character sets or even Arabic which just has different rendering rules (right to left). Mandarin as an example though utterly challenges any notion of fonts and character sets. So the result is that even Unicode isn’t truly universal.
It is so bad that I’ve even saved a very plain vanilla resume in Microsoft Word (.doc format, not even .docs) and watched it destroyed by differences in fonts and different Microsoft versions. Even bullet points and tabs are not universal. Using a boring but non-extended ASCII “+” and spaces is far safer and doesn’t get obliterated by various edits, templates, conversions, etc.
Bringing it full circle…
If you want to avoid font trouble always defer to the most universal character set. That means good old non-extended ASCII. As an example HTML itself is ASCII no matter what the final rendered text is. Plus search engine indexers read TEXT (ASCII) not “strange” characters that get ignored. They read the raw HTML. In a PDF you can insert your font as data in the file which eliminates the problem but again, it can break search indexing. So you can choose “nice looking” or “machine and human readable”. Granted I don’t think anyone is going to search for 2×12 but web blogs would suffer as far as web crawlers go if they don’t stick to plain vanilla ASCII as much as possible.
Sorry about appearance and non-English but that’s the reality of computer fonts. It still isn’t a solved problem. But at least the data of fixed width fonts and 7 pin dot matrix green bar paper are WAY behind us.