If you work wood, you should buy and read Chris Schwarz’s book The Anarchist’s Tool Chest. Don’t worry about the “anarchist” in the title. Schwarz explains what he means by “anarchist” in the book, but no, it’s not just a marketing gimmick. It’s the best word that Schwarz could come up with to describe his working philosophy.
In one volume, Schwarz explains the features and functions of a solid, basic toolkit for building furniture. It’s an impressive accomplishment. The book has gotten a lot of positive press in the blogosphere, so if you want to know more about the book, there are a number of good, detailed reviews available.
Start with Suzanne’s excellent review here.
However, there is a lot of thoughtful discussion of the book’s merits and defects on the discussion forums, like this one. (I make no claims about the future currency of the following links.) The most interesting reviews have come from outside the USA, particularly from the British Commonwealth: the UK, Canada, and Australia.
These threaded discussions reveal some subtle but significant differences between the way craft has developed (and declined) in the USA and the way it has been practiced and developed in the Commonwealth. They are definitely worth a look.
Schwarz responds to some of the more intelligent criticism in his blog post here.
Don’t let any of the criticism deter you from buying the book. A book has to be good in order to garner serious criticism, and Schwarz’s book is first-rate. Schwarz offers plenty of opinions to argue about, but the point is that the argument is worth having. Woodworkers will be arguing about this book for decades to come.
Read the book, and join the argument.