Tom Fidgen’s latest title made me angry…in a very good way!

November 6, 2013

I wrote a post a little while ago about how I WANT TO BE Tom Fidgen after reading a preview of his latest title “The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop”.

Once I wrote it, I was a little concerned it would come across all Buffalo Bill”ish” “I want to wear your skin”, so I should set the record straight so no one thinks Tom should carry around a scary sharp 1″ butt chisel in his pocket for protection from me.

I WANT TO BE Tom Fidgen-like when it comes to how I approach my projects.

The truth of the matter is I am extremely inspired by this book. I had hoped it would still leave me with the same desire I had when I finished reading his first book Made by Hand to pare down my shop to a handful of hand tools and spend more time enjoying the peace and calm that comes from using and appreciating a muscle-powered tool versus an electric-powered one.

And when all is said and done, I do! I can’t help but find myself seriously considering changing how I woodwork. Not WHAT I woodwork, but HOW I go about building the same projects but in an unplugged way.

If I had to pick a single project from the eleven he created for the book, it would have to be either the “Good Doctor’s Medicine Chest” or “The Gentleman’s Valet”. Both are amazingly designed and constructed and so well detailed in the book I have no doubt in my mind I can build them…but it’s not just these two projects.

Tom has done a masterful job of detailing each project from start to finish. Every project has a story, and each project includes a great little drawing of the plans in the beginning followed by the steps, tools and techniques that make them unique.

But what good is all that if they aren’t laid out in a way that the reader can follow along and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into them? Well no worry there, because they are. They’re so easy to follow along and build in your own shop that it says a lot about Tom’s skill as an instructor.

I’m going to stop here, because there’s no way I can continue to describe how much I appreciate adding this title to my library. And that’s where the title of this post comes from, “The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop” has made me so angry in the sense I can’t wait for the day when I can unplug all my power tools and just build with tools powered completely by me, unfortunately that day is quite a ways off. And that makes me angry (or sad and I’m confused about my emotions).

Either way, when it finally happens, any anger I feel now will just melt away one saw stroke at a time…

I hope you’ll feel the same way when you get your copy. And to help speed that process up, I have a copy to give away.

To enter for a chance to win it, leave a comment here on the website telling me which of Tom Fidgen’s projects from either this title or his previous one you’d most like to build.

Not sure which ones you can choose from? Visit the following links where you can preview the table of contents to see them.

“The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop”
“Made by Hand: Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop”


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Comments (38)

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  1. Marlon Ebey says:

    I’d like to build Tom’s Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest.

  2. Chuck M. says:

    “Picture Perfect”! … Tom’s post and panel cabinet is extremely appealing and is the reason why I purchased his previous book, Made by Hand. This is definitely on my to do list.

  3. Paul MacEachern says:

    I’m fond of the Funeral Chair. I’d like to build it.

  4. Brian says:

    I absolutely agree with you, just doing a project by hand gives you a new way of looking at solutions. Since watching tom’s video blog- I’m also impressed with how deliberately he moves through the process. I’ve been looking forward to reading his new book since I saw it announced.

  5. Bob Crosley says:

    While it’s wildly impractical for me, I have always wanted a valet and Tom’s design is gorgeous.

  6. David Petriew says:

    I think the card catalog sounds interesting.

  7. Siavosh says:

    I want to build the Architect’s Table. My dad is an architect, and growing up he had a huge draft table in our apartment that I had fond memories of. Would be a good gift for him 🙂

  8. Brian Benham says:

    Unfortunately I’m not familiar with his book enough to pick a project. However, if I win I will certainly pick one to build.

  9. Sly W says:

    Hummm … The Good Doctor’s Medicine Chest would be the first project for me. Then everything in the book!

  10. Lynn Hewell says:

    Matt, I like you, so I’m going to help you out. Just PM me, and I’ll give you my address, so you can send all of your power tools to me, and I can help take away the temptation to finish the builds quickly.
    Only because I want to help, of course… (evil grin)

  11. Todd Patton says:

    After seeing the picture of the valet, I think that it would be a great piece to build.

  12. Ben says:

    I second the architect table for sure.

  13. I’m curious Matt, what is keeping you from this unplugged nirvana? Seriously what do you feel needs to happen to make the transition?

  14. Jason says:

    As an engineer I have a love-hate relationship with architects. So if/when I build Tom’s Architect’s Table I may have to rename it. I’ve also been itching to build some planes. Looks like a great book.

  15. Allen Joiner says:

    I would build the funeral chair.

  16. Mike Davis says:

    I’d like to build the side table ‘Skinny legs and all’.

  17. Wade Hutchison says:

    I still would like to build the toolbox from the first book – I have the stock on hand, now I just need the time. I would like to get a free copy of the 2nd book – just for further inspiration, of course.

  18. Omar M. Rashash says:

    It’s interesting to look at a book like this and compare it to Marc’s new book on Hybrid Woodworking. The fact is, nothing is really new, it’s just back again. What Marc calls “Hybrid Woodworking” is what some of us call Wooden Boat Building. Wooden boat builders don’t use hand tools because it’s an affection, but because some tasks are either more efficient or can’t be done with power tools. However, power tools are used whenever possible to remove the grunt work of material preparation. Marc’s philosophy is driven by a desire to find the most efficient way to be productive and earn a living.
    I have Tom’s first book and understand what has driven him in this direction. Once the cove and bead strips for my kayaks have been created, a power tool rarely touches one of my boats. My primary tools are a block plane, a dozuki saw, a pencil, and lots of clamps. Shaping is achieved by scraping and sanding. There is something to be said for being able to work, hear your stereo, breath without a mask, and not feel like your girding up to do battle.
    I suspect, where you may end up is in a shop with a machine room and a bench room. The machine room will be the necessary evil, to prepare the material for your projects. Most of your time will be spent in the bench room, cutting joints and building your project. BTW, I’m kind of partial to the Architect’s Table. It would be nice to have somewhere to lay out the plans for my next boat.

  19. Jim Barry says:

    My vote goes for the architect’s table. I had trouble finding a picture of it in the Amazon “look inside” but it s something I’ve wanted to make for some time.

  20. Chris says:

    I need to build that valet. I’ve been wanting to build one for a while. My wife is tired of me leaving clothes on the floor and I’m tired of her baskets on my side of the bedroom. If I make the valet, I get rid of the baskets and she gets the clothes off the floor. Matt, please save my marriage! Actually, my marriage is just fine, it would be cool to have the book.

  21. Gary says:

    Matt, all you gotta do is make something my hand. Doesn’t matter how it looks when your done. Keep it simple. Also remember, there is no shame in using sandpaper. Just don’t use the plugged in one. One of the best handtool guys does. I have made boxes my hand. No one has ever seen them :LOLOLOL But every time I make something I get a little bit better at it. BTW I have both of Tom’s books. Don’t need to win this.

  22. Loren Schmidt says:

    Architect’s Table. I think it would be a neat project.

  23. Greg says:

    I think the funeral chair would be the go-to project for a few reasons. One, it utilizes some interesting shop devices like the tall bench dogs. Two, when you first look at a project like that you don’t notice the intricacies of it, so it is most appreciated by those who understand woodworking. But at the same time Tom breaks it down into simple elements.
    Three, if you make a few of them, it’s one of those rare projects that someone might want to borrow. No one has ever asked to borrow my coffee table, or dry bar. But something that well built and useful, people would want to borrow it. Just imagine a few of those at a tail gate or camping trip.

  24. Bill Akins says:

    I have been watching Tom’s video’s for a while and absolutely love his work. I love to build any of his chairs.

  25. Just from looking at the table of contents and hoping it’s a project, The Frame Saw. I have some 4 by 18 inch cherry beams that are around five feet long but I don’t have a bandsaw to resaw them into furniture-board dimensions. I would be turning salad bowls until I die if I don’t resaw at least some of them, and watching Shannon with his frame saw is always an encouragement to make me think I could do that, if I only had the saw. And a leg vise. And a Roubo bench. And a few weeks off from work. . .

  26. Dan Oelke says:

    For me it would probably be the card catalog. My mother was a librarian for many years. Maybe not the most practical piece of furniture but that’s not necessarily the point.

  27. Jim M says:

    The gentleman’s valet because of its elegance in simplicity and functionality. I bought “Hand Crafted Projects” book first and have enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed Tom’s videos because they have the same “look & feel” of his books.

  28. Nateswoodworks says:

    I would say the Gentlemans Valet, such a beautiful piece. I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for his next post on his site so I can only imagine what taking a class from him would be like!

  29. Michael says:

    I’d like to give the valet a shot. I have the perfect place for it!

  30. Nathan S says:

    I want to learn more about wooden hand planes and build one myself!

  31. Ken Steward says:

    Definitely the Architect’s table. I’ve always wanted one and now’s a great time to start designing.

  32. I am right there with you on wanting to make the Good Doctor’s Medicine Chest. Amazing!

  33. Brian Brazil says:

    I want to build the toolbox from Made by Hand. Well, really, I want it cross-polenate it with a small English chest Chris Schwarz had at WIA. And maybe some of the construction techniques from the Dutch tool chest. Proving my inability to work from plans…

  34. Jon McGrath says:

    Thanks Matt – If only picking one, then the sawyer bench – just simple and effective. I like his approach to this process than others I have seen and I soon to build it – if that did not count hehehehe, then I would want to build the tool chest.

    Cool beans man
    Thanks again for a chance to win the Fidgen words in print – Have a good one

  35. Marty Backe says:

    The Gentleman’s Valet appeals to me, and I think that I could make good use of it.

  36. Josh Garrisi says:

    I would like to make a Gentleman’s Valet for myself or brother-in-laws.

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