Memoir/Autobiography, Non-Fiction, STEM

Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage

As a long time Mythbusters fan and maker, I’ve always enjoyed watching Adam on television. When I found out he was writing his memoir/maker manifesto, I couldn’t read it fast enough. Unfortunately I didn’t get an advance copy, so I had to wait along with everyone else. Thankfully, it was worth the wait to get to enjoy holding the beautiful hardcover copy in my hands.

Synopsis

From Adam, via the inside flap of the book:
Every Tool’s a Hammer is a chronicle of my life as a maker. It’s an exploration of making and of my own productive obsessions, but it’s also a permission slip of sorts from me to you. Permission to grab hold of the things you’re interested in, that fascinate you, and to dive deeper into them to see where they lead you.

Through stories from forty-plus years of making and molding, building and breaking, along with the lessons I learned along the way, this book is meant to be a toolbox of problem solving, complete with a shop’s worth of notes on the tools, techniques, and materials that I use most often. […] This toolbox also includes lessons from many other incredible makers and creators, including: Jamie Hyneman, Nick Offerman, Pixar director Andrew Stanton, Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro, artist Tom Sachs, and chef Traci Des Jardins. And if everything goes well, we will hopefully save you a few mistakes (and maybe fingers) as well as help you turn your curiosities into creations.

I hope this book inspires you to build, make, invent, explore, and – most of all – enjoy the thrills of being a creator.

Review

This book brings me so much joy. It takes everything that I loved about Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe and narrows the focus to the sub-culture maker world (but with plenty of vignettes from Adam’s life sprinkled in.) I have always been incredibly proud to say that my dad is a woodworker, he makes his living working with his hands. He’s an artist, a carver, and can build a house all by himself from start to finish. It’s an amazing skill set that he has that I am proud to say I inherited a touch of – a bit from him, and a bit from my maternal grandmother. It’s a passion and activity we can share – yesterday, my dad, husband, friends and I, spent the day forging out knives from railroad spikes, pounding the metal until it moved the way we wanted it to and it was one of the best days we’ve all had.

My husband comes from a long line of makers as well, and between the two of us, our hobbies can occasionally get the better of us, and our projects have a way of taking over the house (we’re also notoriously bad at actually finishing anything.) It makes us a great pair, but also leads towards a messy and cluttered space without designated “making space.” As he is also a huge Mythbusters fan, I gave him this book as an anniversary gift in August. He promptly had a personal identity crisis.

He’s an artist and creative who works in finance because art and books don’t pay the bills, at least not until I become a New York Times bestselling author… but that means I have to actually finish my novel one of these days (see what I mean about the finishing being a problem?) He does his makerly pursuits in his free time, but Adam always inspired him to be a proper Renaissance man, a modern day da Vinci. And while I felt like David Epstein’s Range was all about me, he felt Every Tool’s a Hammer was about him. And he wanted to pull a career 180 and go back into art full time. But enough of the personal stuff, time for the book.

Adam’s writing is just like his presenting – funny and informative, rooted in facts and science, and a love for all the projects he’s undertaken of the years – from teenage armor making, to adult Star Wars projects – it’s all here, along with plenty of Mythbusters behind the scenes moments included. I love, too, the guest appearances of Nick and Jamie, it made me realize how much I would love to see the three of them do a show together – the crazy projects they could come up with would be great!

While I’m sad I don’t have any more Mythbusters to enjoy right now (we recently finished our rewatch of the episodes on Hulu), I’m glad to at least have some maker validation in some way shape and form through Adam’s memoir/maker manifesto. It also inspires me to pick up Kari’s memoir, Crash Test Girl, which I’d been debating reading for awhile, so expect a review for that one in the new year as I don’t think I’ll get to it before the holidays take over my retail-working-life.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Every Tool’s a Hammer is the perfect gift for…
makers and creative types alike, as well as long time Mythbusters fans like me!

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through IndieBound or your local independent (most of us received signed copies from the publisher!), in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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