Grandpa's Workshop in Greenwich

With his seminal work Workbenches: From Design and Theory to Construcion and Use, Christopher Schwarz had me hooked. It is a fantastic tome about workbench theory. Within my limited workbench use I've come to agree with virtually every point Chris makes about the design & use of workbenches.
The Cover, in it's wonderfully decorated glory (image from the Lost Art Press site).
With the later release of The Anarchist's Tool Chest, I strayed from the ways of the Schwarz. I could never wrap my head around using a chest in a shop as small as mine. Floor space is far too precious to waste on a tool chest when a tool cabinet frees up the floor and keeps the tools closer to hand. As for the philosophy of a limited tool kit espoused by The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, I own 10 routers. Need I say more?
A fuzzy photo of Chris holding court in my kid's Grandpa's workshop with fellow
woodworkers at the Northeast Woodworkers Association Showcase 2011.
It was in that mindset of respecting Chris’s projects while not thinking they were for me that his publishing house, Lost Art Press, printed the English translation of Grandpa’s Workshop by Maurice Pommier. Initially I was uninterested in Grandpa’s Workshop, thinking it was simply the French children’s version of The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.
Wesley in my shop.
I began to warm to the idea of Grandpa’s Workshop when I saw many glowing mentions of it by my friends on twitter and google+. When I met people singing the book’s praises at Woodworking In America, I decided to walk across the aisle of the marketplace and finally buy a copy.

I’m glad I did. So are my kids.
My Kid's Grandpa's Workshop, filled with the Long Island Woodworkers Club
during the Northeast  Woodworkers Association Showcase 2011.
I was initially taken by the beautiful illustrations of Grandpa (Pèpère Grosbois) and his tools. It was once I sat down and read the book with my three (3) sons that I really fell in love with it though.

The stories that the tools tell are so captivating, fanciful, pragmatic and instructive that even my 4 year old’s attention was held through the entire 48 page book (read over 3 sittings). The tools tell of history, use and the often tragic lives of the Grosbois family that owned them. By the end of the book you feel you know Pèpère as well as the young narrator does. You’ll also know what all the tools are and what they do.

The translation from French by Brian Anderson is wonderful and captures the poetic nature of the text (not having read the original French I assume this to be true, otherwise Anderson added poetry to the English, either way, it's poetic).

The illustrations are the perfect compliment in tone to the text. Through images large and small, in full color and in silhouette, the action of the text plays out across the pages for all to see.
Pèpère shows the besaiguë to Sylvian (image from the Lost Art Press site).
For any woodworker with children, Grandpa’s Workshop is a must have. Even for woodworkers without children, it’s a great tale of the tools we use and some of the people who’ve used them.

After enjoying Grandpa’s Workshop so much, I feel I may have to revisit the Anarchist’s Tool Chest. While I don’t think I’ll be taking my tools down off the wall, there may be more to the Anarchist woodworking philosophy than I had given it credit for.