Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.75 shipping
The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch Paperback – September 28, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"This fascinating book follows the adventures of Thomas Thwaites as he attempts to build a toaster. from scratch. He molds his own plastic, extrudes his own nickel-chromium wire, and refines iron ore to build the frame. It's an entertaining and well-written book, and I love how Thwaites embraces failure as a part of the story, which is a reality for many "maker" style projects" -- Wired.com
"At once a charming manifesto for the maker movement and a poetic reflection on consumerism's downfall, The Toaster Project is a story of reacquainting ourselves with the origins of our stuff, part Moby-Duck, part The Story of Stuff, part something else made entirely from scratch." -- Brain Pickings
"Funny and thoughtful" -- the Boston Globe
"The Toaster Project raises fascinating questions.... Thwaites's eagerness to learn and his determination to see the project through--not to mention the author's engaging writing and the novelty of the project--makes this book a winner." -- Make online
"One of the most exciting books to come across my desk in the last while.... A hilarious, wonderfully wrought account of how hard it is to really make anything from scratch, much less an electronic device." -- Aaron Britt, Dwell.com
"It's fun, and you'll get a little smarter, and maybe you'll appreciate our ancestors and their smarts a little more." -- Science 2.0
"Incredibly entertaining and well-written." -- International Sculpture Center blog
"I particularly admired his can-do attitude and loved his heroic ignorance-is-bliss abuse of a microwave oven." - ElectronicsWeekly.com
"Easily my favorite book this year, The Toaster Project should be required reading for artists, designers, consumers and anyone who has ever bought or thrown away a toaster. Thomas Thwaites, a graduate student at London's Royal College of Art, sets out to build a toaster from scratch -- not just an object that toasts bread, but one that aesthetically and mechanically replicates the ubiquitous $6 drugstore toaster.... Thwaites is a laugh-out-loud-funny but thoughtful guide through his own adventures, touching provocatively on ideas as far-ranging as medieval metallurgy, sustainability, mass production, and our 'throwaway' consumer culture. You'll buy it as a gift for the title and the concept, but you'll end up keeping it for yourself once you crack the cover -- so take my advice and buy two." -- NPR.org
"As befits the project, the book is hilarious. I never though reading about iron smelting and descents into mines would be so engrossing."-- We Make Money Not Art
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The 20-something Thwaites decided to create a toaster from scratch for a college project. And by "from scratch", I mean going all the way back to the raw materials from the earth. He used as his model a toaster from a local department store in England that cost the consumer just under four British pounds, or around six American dollars. Deconstructing this toaster, he determined what the various parts were made of, and set out to mine and refine the minerals and whatnot he would need to make his own. He set certain rules for himself to make the experience authentic, and had nine months in which to complete it all. Along the way, Thwaites shares his project with numerous experts in the fields of mining and refining, as well as friend, relatives, and helpful drunks, meeting with various levels of enthusiasm. There is a toaster at the end of the book. I'll just leave it at that.
A fan of the late British sci-fi/humor writer Douglas Adams, Thwaites cites as part of his inspiration a quote from Adams' novel Mostly Harmless, wherein one of his main characters, a modern man from planet Earth, is dropped onto another world with only a very primitive civilization. At first, the man has big dreams of totally transforming these "backwards" people with the technology he knows from home. However, as Adams puts it, "Left to his own devices he [the modern man from Earth] couldn't even build a toaster. He could just about make a sandwich, and that was it." Instead of becoming a great transformer for their society, the primitive people make him their official sandwich maker. I suspect many of us would be lucky to even get that title if put in a similar situation.
The Toaster Project was a fun, fast read. Thwaites manages to be consistently informative and funny, folding in his views on the consumer culture and its environmental impact without ever being preachy or long-winded. His humorous, self-deprecating style permeates the account, and the technical portions are never dry and boring. On top of it all, he makes you stop and think about all of our "stuff", where it comes from, the people and resources involved in creating it, and what happens to it when we are through. Thwaites posits that if we were actually paying what our possessions were truly worth in terms of the overall labor, transportation, environmental impact, etc involved in their creation, price tags would be much heavier. Even by his admittedly ramshackle accounting, his final version of a toaster cost nearly 1,190 British pounds, or 1,880 American dollars.
A book that will make you both chuckle and think, The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites is one I highly recommend.
One disappointment for me, a problem with the publisher and not the author, is that the photographs on my Kindle e-ink reader were distorted and nearly indecipherable. These photos were fair important in documenting the project. They looked fine in the Kindle Cloud app on my computer, however. Amazon, don't leave your e-ink reader users behind!
Mr. Thwaites was a British art student at the time he undertook to make a toaster from the raw ingredients as a school project and in order to demonstrate how dependent we are upon a complicated web of supply of hard to refine raw ingredients, all of which require considerable energy expenditure to both extract and process. I found his travails in finding ingredients (iron ore, etc.) and processing them amusing, and his larger point interesting.
My only quibble is that the author was clearly a grad student with limited time and budget. The book is short, and I found myself wishing that he'd had more time to explore and especially to write about some of the details that get little mention. Buy the book - perhaps he'll be able to do a more expansive sequel.