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52 Boxes in 52 Weeks – Matt Kenney

52 Boxes in 52 Weeks by Matt Kenney

I’ve heard about Matt Kenney’s 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks challenge way before the book came out. As he used to be employed at the FineWoodworking Magazin, he was part of their podcast ShopTalk Live and reported about his progress there. On the podcast his nickname was Captain Snark and he was known to build baby furniture a.k.a. smaller things. 

His main goal with the 52 boxes was to accelerate his design skills and build beautiful things in the shop. Boxes seem to be the perfect object for such a challenge, because they are rather quickly built, compared to furniture projects, while still having enough opportunities to make every box unique.

Since Matt is no longer with the magazine he started to teach more classes about box making, Kumiko and woodworking around the world and sells a few pieces of his work.

That’s about him, let’s get to the book.


After a short introduction why he started the 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks endeavor, he continues with a chapter about design. The most important thing to him is good proportions of a piece. Namely length, width, height and the harmony between the sizes of every single part. Further, he talks about other design elements like the selection of wood, the use of fabric and color as well as why simple is beautiful. 

The next chapter is about box-making techniques and shows some really cool stuff. The heart of his boxes is the continuous grain that goes around all four corners with miter joints. He shows how he makes that happen (hint: you need to resaw for that) and his 2in1 crosscut-sled, he uses for that. The chapter also covers all other components of a box and how to make them, like a bottom that considers wood movement, a lid, a liner and how to finish a box in order to give a beautiful last touch.

Alright, then come the boxes themselves. Each of the 52 boxes is then presented on about 3 pages and he explains what he intended with each box as well as all the design elements of the particular box(es). A few boxes belong together and are therefore presented as a pair, trio or quartet. He defines the term box a bit more relaxed and it also includes a workpiece that is more like a shelf for a sake set.

Along with the pictures of the boxes he also gives away all the specs like wood species, size and used colors of each box. The sequence of boxes is loosened up with the demonstration of techniques, he used for a particular box and some hints about specific topics like working with cocobolo or more philosophical topics such as mistakes as milestones.

The book ends with a short afterword.


The book is published by the Taunton Press and since they are also the publisher of FineWoodworking, you can expect an equally high standard. It contains countless professional photographs on over 200 pages. The different colors of page elements, as well as different fonts, make it a joy to read or just thumb through.

Target Audience

The book is definitely geared towards woodworkers, who want to expand their design abilities. The design elements and principles are totally applicable for all sorts of woodworking. It also motivates to try out a new technique or spending more time and effort into the design of your next piece. 

It is a great book to have around and seek inspiration here and there when designing.


The beauty of the boxes struck me immediately. My favorite box is box 45, a tea cabinet with three drawers and a door with Kumiko. Although box 51 and 38 are very close to it.

I really enjoyed reading it. It took me way longer than another book with around 200 pages because I went back and forth to see what he meant with his design explanations and looked at every box pretty extensively. This pushed my understanding of design tremendously. I really hope this will come to life in further builds of mine. I will especially take more time to get the proportions better. 

Even if you never intend to build a box like Matt’s, you definitely do benefit from his design skills and will build more delicate and beautiful pieces in the future.

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Crushing It! – Gary Vaynerchuk

Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

On my family trip to Sweden I was looking for an ebook to read in the next few days because I love reading at the beach and had just finished Making Time from Bob Claglett. I decided that I will read a business book instead of a woodworking book since woodworking books often contain nice pictures and are therefore better as normal books.

As I was browsing through the online store this book caught my attention. I knew the author Gary Vaynerchuk from a few motivational speeches and thought this will most likely be pretty motivational, too. Of course, Gary Vee is very well known as an online marketing expert, investor, and entrepreneur, who has built several businesses including his parents’ wine store and a media company.

I had almost no expectations of the book and thought it would be an easy read and inspire me. 

I was quite wrong. 


Gary separated the book into two main parts. 

Part 1 is called Get Pumped and part 2 Create your pillar.

The first is pretty much what I expected to be in the book,his own story as well as a lot of stories from entrepreneurs that succeeded and built or expanded their business because of social media. He also explains why he thinks that social media is and will even more become the place to be for brand building. In his opinion he only need a few online profiles, patience and considerably amount of hard work in order to build a brand and a successful business. 

His attitude towards hard work is pretty intense and he states that if you want to become successful in your niche working 16-18 hours a day may be required. One story that stayed with me is the one of a former sales representative of a pharmaceutical company, who tried to be an entrepreneur several times and finally achieve it by starting a youtube channel with his son about cutting things in half.

The second part is about doing it. He describes why starting a facebook business page is always the first step in order to become an influencer/online brand and what is takes to get discovered online by other people. Small hint here: It’s hashtags and joining the conversation.

This is followed by a chapter about each major social media plattform/channel. Namely,, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Podcasts and Voice-First.

He explains why each network is worth the effort to be on as well as his best tips and tricks on how to approach it in order to gain followers.


279 pages. All text, no pictures or graphics. There are a few links to pieces of online content, that are included into the story.

Target Audience

Since the book is focused on building your brand online and gathering a following, it’s for everybody, who wants to make more out of his/her career. It encourages you to follow your own path and that everybody can use social media in order to become successful, no matter in which field they are in.


Although I don’t agree with everything he wrote in the book, especially not the amount of work you should put in and the lifestyle he has, it was an eye-opener for me.

As a professional online marketer, I was more focused on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO and On-Page Optimization rather than social media. After reading, I understood way better why social media is important in the mix. It’s for the long run. It’s not about getting a quick buck out of it. It’s about becoming a known person/company in your field and someone the people trust in.

Sometimes it feels a bit like this book is an ad for his first book Crush iI!. He mentions it all the time and all the stories are from people who have read Crush It!. To an extent, I found that there are too many examples of other people. But that may just be a personal thing.

Nevertheless, if you want to start your own business or take your brand/business/career to the next level, this book is a very good inspiration and simple instruction on how to build and grow it on social media. 

It is much more than just a little motivation to get off the couch and start planting your success. It has definitely changed the way I approach my social media game. I really liked the actionable steps in each chapter about the platforms and put them to use.

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Making Time – Bob Claglett

Making Time by Bob Claglett

I don’t think this man needs any further introduction, but I’ll try it anyway.

Bob Claglett is the founder of I Like to Make Stuff (ILTMS) and one of the most recognized makers with more subscribers on YouTube than Jimmy Diresta and April Wilkerson. Combined (June 2019).

He was one of the first makers to do content creation as a full-time gig and has countless incredible projects under his belt. Varying from simple shop projects and home improvement to building incredible comic props and movie gadgets like the blaster of Optimus Prime from Transformers.

His book Making Time caught my attention because I wanted to know how he started his incredible journey and learn a thing one or two from his experience as a content creator.


The book consists of two main parts and a short introduction.

The first part is about his journey from a full-time software developer that built projects as a hobby on the weekend to starting his own business with content creation and following his true passion. You can get a pretty good look into how he started his complete online journey and turned it into a profitable career.

In the second part Bob describes his approaches and thoughts as a successful content creator. They reach from the vulnerability, you expose yourself to when uploading videos to how he treats incoming sponsoring requests and the responsibility he has as an influencer. This chapter has a lot of small tips and tricks if you want to start your own online business.


The book is laid out pretty simple but effective. 79 pages without any graphics or pictures. It is an easy read and doesn’t take up more than a few hours to read

Target Audience

Bob got the same questions about how to start or grow as a content creator over and over again. This book is his approach in answering them and showing what it takes to be a full-time content creator. So everybody, especially in the maker space, that wants to start his online content business or seeks ways of expanding and maximizing productivity is definitely at the right place here.


At first, I was a little bit disappointed because the book only had 79 pages and the price is still the same as books with 150 or more pages.

But his direct and honest way of telling his own story definitely makes up for that.

I found the book fun and easy to read, while still giving me a good impression of how he started turning his passion into a way of providing for his family. Makers of all sorts and content creators will find inspiration in his story and the chapter about his processes changed the way I organize my projects.

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The why and how of woodworking – Michael Pekovich

The why and how of woodworking by Michael Pekovich

This book has been on my wishlist long before it was published and I was really excited when it finally arrived.

Michael Pekovich is not only one of the most inspiring furniture makers out there, but he is also Creative Director of the worldwide famous magazine Fine Woodworking. Everybody who has watched one of the videos or listened to Shop Talk Live knows he can convey his knowledge in a very clear and comprehensible way.

So my expectations of his book were very high. Read further to see if they have been met.


After a short introduction about why he has written the book, the author starts in the first chapter with his 12 rules, how he uses his limited time in the shop efficiently and to his fulfillment.

The second chapter about Design gives insights into his own design process and he encourages everybody to put more effort in the design of a furniture piece since not every piece or idea is really worth building. Mainly because the time in the shop is not endless.

Pekovich dedicates the third chapter to the bare essential hand tools for woodworkers. He also explains the use of them, how he sharpens chisels and plane blades as well as how he cuts dovetails.

The next 4 chapters are each about a different furniture type. and show wall cabinets, boxes & chests, casework and tables.

The chapter about wall cabinets shows the impressive evolution of one particular piece over time, which Pekovich has built over and over in order to reach perfection. An introduction to the Japanese art of Kumiko is also included.

After he explains the construction and build process of a small Kumiko box, there is this gorgeous Wenge tea box. The Wenge is structured and the lid is held in place with magnets in two ebony strips attached to a wrapped cord. The box is followed by one with drawers and a sliding door. Very interesting are also the clever techniques and processes for making boxes he uses and explains in this section. The chapter is round off with another two boxes for tea utensils with Kumiko.

Casework has the greatest variety of projects in it. It starts off with a simple shoe rack that also acts as a bench, built out of a sheet good. In the third time making this piece, Michael perfected it and now it has 4 drawers underneath the seat. He also tells the very authentic story of a bookcase, with which he has never been happy, that turned into a case with two drawers over time. The next piece is an oak and butternut dresser with 7 drawers. He used a lot of double tenons and a special version of the bridle joint.


The 224 pages of the book are full of high-quality pictures and beautiful graphics. It is always a pleasure to just flip through the book and take a look at the photographs. Because of his job, I guess it is no surprise that Michael wanted to do the layout of his book himself. The similarities to the Fine Woodworking Magazin are clearly visible and of the same high standard.

Target Group

This book is suited for beginners as well as experienced woodworkers.

Beginners will value the sections about hand tools because they show in a comprehensive way all necessary in order to have fun and good results in the shop.

Advanced woodworkers will discover clever jigs and processes as well as design inspiration.

Every woodworker can benefit from Pekovich’s way of making the most out of short time windows in the shop.


I really enjoyed reading this book and was especially overwhelmed by the way Michael Pekovich wrote about the design of his pieces. I will certainly incorporate some of his techniques and processes into my future builds.

Because of the beautiful pictures, it’s already worth it to let it sit on your coffee or couch table and just thump through it once in a while.

All in all, it’s definitely a must-read for every woodworker regardless of his/her level and a good start for someone who wants to get into the craft or perfect his skillset.