REVIEW of How to Make Cool Stuff by Graeme Smith

How to make cool stuff by Graeme Smith book review by @romanastral on Twitter

Mr. Smith is a craftsman.  He deals with crafts, which is unfortunately a dying tradition.

Well, Mr. Smith wants to bring it back and explains in detail why he not only wants to bring it back, but also why it would be a good thing for humans to do crafts, even if only for a hobby.

He begins with an introduction.  He’s from New Zealand and even throws in some Maori.  

Then he goes into the why’s before getting into the how’s.  If there is no why, then why should we even bother with the how? Right?

Mr. Smith is a leatherworker.  But, he only uses leather as the example.  You can apply this to any craft, whether you’ll be using this knowledge as your trade or as your hobby, or even a side business.

I enjoy how you get to know Mr. Smith.  He gives a little bit of his family background, including even an ad they used in the early 20th century for the lemonade and carbonated drinks that they sold.


  • I think it’s imperative to know the why’s.  Mr. Smith nails this.  I’m a composer first and an artist second for instance.  I can write a book on why.  Can you?
  • Detailed enough to understand leatherwork but vague enough you can apply it to any trade, craft, or hobby
  • Pictures! I like pictures.  You get an idea of what you can do
  • Create, not just consume.  Mr. Smith goes into intense detail about the mindset shift that some people will have to make before they can really apply these lessons
  • Structure.  I’m actually not that good of a reader and I had no problem reading this book pretty fast.  It’s not too complicated and there’s not too much technical jargon.

To improve:

  • There’s only one thing I’d like to see more of, but then again, I’m wondering if this would require a whole different book.  Mr. Smith barely touched the marketing aspect.  So, you created good stuff.  What do you do with it?


I think it’s a wonderful book for someone who’s even thinking of developing a craft, a trade, or even a hobby.  He sets the tone for a mindset shift that will make your life much better.  I strongly think that that’s something that’s missing today.

He also briefly touches on apprenticeship, which is yet another thing missing in today’s society.  I like what I’ve accomplished so far in life, but if I actually had a mentor? Wow! The thought almost makes me sad.

If Mr. Smith’s book sells well and people take it seriously, I sincerely think we’d have a better world.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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