Book Review: Build Your Own Farm Tools

Josh Volk’s new book, "Build Your Own Farm Tools," provides detailed blueprints for projects to improve your farm’s functionality and efficiency.

by Robin Hackett
PHOTO: Josh Volk

Title: Build Your Own Farm Tools: Equipment & Systems for the Small-Scale Farm & Market Garden

Author: Josh Volk

Cover Price: $19.95

Publication Date:  August 3, 2021  

Publisher: Storey Publishing

build farm tools
Storey Publishing

Every once in a while a book comes along that you can’t believe hasn’t already been written. The idea is so obvious (and important) that it feels like someone must have published it already.

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Well, Josh Volk beat all of us small farmers to the punch with his new book, Build Your Own Farm Tools.  

Projects for Real Farmers

Fundamentally, the book delivers on its name. Build Your Own Farm Tools is a detailed guide to numerous building projects that will help your farm operate more efficiently. 

Unlike the majority of other “farm DIY” books I’ve read, Volk’s builds aren’t at all gimmicky. Rather, many of the projects in the book are items that I myself have tried to build over my years of market gardening. 

Let’s just say I would have benefited immensely from having Volk’s guidance back then.

Generally, the plans in Build Your Own Farm Tools are for pieces of equipment that are easy to overlook but have the potential to help growers operate with more ease and efficiency. Some of my favorites are his designs for a germination chamber, a hoop bender (for constructing DIY low-tunnels) and a winder for drip irrigation.  

Although these kinds of projects might not be the most glamorous farm-builds, that’s not the point. What they are is extremely practical and rooted in Volk’s experience as a market-gardener. The designs are also immensely thorough, easy to understand and beautifully illustrated.

Read more: In many cases, hand tools get the job done around the farm.

A Gap in the Market

Part of what makes Build Your Own Farm Tools such a valuable resource is the fact that tools for the small-scale farmer are frequently hard to come by (especially on the domestic market). 

This has changed some over recent years as farmers like Eliot Coleman, Conor Crickmore and others have designed tools specifically meant for small farmers. Still, there’s a substantial lack of supply and ever-increasing demand for tools specifically made for small-scale growers.

In light of this lack of supply, many small-scale farmers still adapt tools meant for much larger operations. Or, they resort to making their own tools without a blueprint to guide them. I’m certainly guilty of the latter. 

Build Your Own Farm Tools, however, saves growers from either of these fates. With Volk’s guidance, they can channel their DIY spirit into creating tools specifically designed to work for their farms. 

Read more: Take the time to take care of your garden tools. Here are some basic pointers.

The Right Price

For growers looking to keep their costs under control (which includes most every farmer I know), Build Your Own Farm Tools is worth the $20 investment. Building some of your own equipment from Volk’s designs is sure to save you substantially relative to buying the same tools. 

A commercial germination chamber, for instance, can easily cost several thousand dollars. The cost of Volk’s design comes in pretty far under that.

Plus, building your own tools comes with a satisfaction that’s hard to buy at the store.  


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