The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch

by Thomas Thwaites


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568989976
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Publication date: 09/28/2011
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 504,556
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

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The Toaster Project 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this book to be quick, interesting, but most of all entertaining. It was simply fun to read. Despite the light-hearted nature of the story there were also some deeper truth's to be had... if you cared to.
detailmuse on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Hello, my name is Thomas Thwaites, and I have made a toaster.Well, even Thwaites concedes it¿s a stretch to call his bread-warming (at best) thingy a toaster, and a stretch to say he made it from scratch (he quotes Carl Sagan: ¿If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe¿). It took him ¿nine months, involved travelling nineteen-hundred miles to some of the most remote places in the United Kingdom, {...} through civilisation¿s history as well, from the Bronze age to today,¿ and at a cost 300 times the selling price of a cheap store toaster.The book originated as documentation of his master¿s-degree project at London¿s Royal College of Art: ¿{Could} the technical and scientific expertise assembled by countless people over centuries {be} replicated by me in the nine months that I had available¿? He begins by reverse engineering the cheapest toaster he could find (hoping it would also be the simplest) into 157 parts, then pares the materials to steel, mica, plastic, copper, nickel.I¿ll travel to a mine where iron ore is found, collect some ore, somehow extract the iron myself, and then somehow change it into steel. The same for the mica, copper, and nickel. I¿ll need to get hold of some crude oil from which to refine the molecules for the plastic case.Through text and photos and with curiosity, humor, and digressions (into chemistry, geology, and the history of mining, metallurgy and plastics technology), he records his failures and successes -- among them, smelting ore into iron in his mother¿s microwave; considering (and wisely re-considering) polymerizing propylene gas into plastic using a pressure cooker bought on eBay; considering plastic bottles from a recycling dump -- after all, geologists are evaluating our time as the beginning of a new epoch (¿Anthropocene¿) and so a dump is a sort of mine, yes? Through it all, he comes to realize that ¿a methodology from the sixteenth century is about the level of technology we can manage when we¿re working alone.¿Thwaites¿ coverage is uneven (his thoroughness and perseverance decrease from the project¿s early to late stages) and it feels like a book calls for a bit more flesh than a Master¿s document. The final chapter (¿Construction¿) essentially abandons the toaster in favor of a cautionary essay on the environmental costs of cheap consumerism; it¿s not an unwelcome segue, just completely jarring. But I enjoyed Thwaites¿ concept and voice so much that I excuse what would be flaws as quibbles here. It¿s an exploratory, very fast, very fun read.(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
tammydotts on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Think about a toaster for a second. Doesn¿t seem all that complicated. Could you build one?If you had all the pieces ¿ body, wires, levers, etc. ¿ could you put together a toaster? Probably, especially if you found something online.What if you didn¿t have the pieces? Could you make them? Thomas Thwaites took that to the extreme with some inspiration from Douglas Adams and detailed his efforts in The Toaster Project. He doesn¿t pop down to the local hobby store to pick up the electronics he needs. Nope, Thwaites smelts iron and makes plastic ¿ from scratch. And here I thought my brownies were impressive.The book¿s a quick read, and I recommend it. It¿s not just a story of processing copper and nickel. Thwaites touches on environmental issues of mining and waste and has fascinating conversations with professors, scientists and people who spent their lives learning how to do what Thwaites is trying to do in a couple of months.If the book has a drawback, it¿s that it¿s too quick of a read. Thwaites could have spent more time expanding on the issues he encounters or profiling the people who help him. I wanted to know more, but maybe that would have changed the book into a dry sociology piece.The Toaster Project points out how much we take for granted. A toaster is an incredibly complex machine with multiple components (about 400) that break down into even more components. I couldn¿t make one. I wouldn¿t even know where to start. Thwaites figures it out though and his toaster works ¿ sort of. You¿ll have to read it to find out the details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aside from striking a rather environmentalist tone that I thought was rather unexpected though not without merit it was a great and rather comical book. It definately compel you to think about our industrial and capitalist systems. And of course it gives you a bit more insight into what exactly it is that goes into a toaster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a quick read. Some interesting tidbits can be gleaned from this book. Not for the faint of heart. He has a different sense of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of a tree. How absurd that sonething this idiotic actually got published!