The Tool Chest

Like a hundred other tool chests (and blog posts) of recent vintage, this one was inspired by Chris Schwarz’s book The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.  I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone interested in hand-tool woodworking.  The book covers three broad subjects: a woodworking philosophy, the tools required to satisfy that philosophy, and how to build a tool chest to house those tools.  The chest itself is more than just that; it is an integral part of the philosophy, a metaphor to illustrate what can be achieved with a minimum of tools.  It was this aspect of the book that really captured my imagination.  I’ve always been a less-is-more kinda chap, and the idea of limiting myself to just the contents of a tool chest appealed to me.  But I’m not here to talk about the book!  Onwards with the chest….

As I followed Schwarz’s instructions it’s unnecessary to plagiarise them here, but I will post a bunch of photos.  I started with a stash of redwood.  It’s light and more than strong enough for what I need.  It’s not very pretty, but it will look a lot better with some make-up on.


The corners of the chest are joined with that staple of carcass design, the dovetail:


I cheated a little by cutting two ends at once.  Apart from saving time and effort, it also makes sure that the corners all match.  28 dovetails later…


And now flying together in a box formation:


Next I made the tongue & groove boards for the bottom using a Record 050 Combination plane.  This was a gift from Miss Silverwood a few years back:


The skirt that surrounds the bottom of the chest came next.  Like the rest of the chest, this is dovetailed on the corners to make it as strong as possible:


To give a sense of scale, here the chest is being used to store a standard-sized Grace:


The upper skirt soon followed in a much similar vein:


The lid is a frame & panel construction.  I used a nice, thick piece of poplar for the panel.


Wrapped around the lid there is a rim that meets the upper skirt of the chest.  This forms a seal to keep dust out:


And with hinges, runners and some dividers added.  The runners support a pair of sliding tool trays, and the four silver screws in each corner secure a set of casters for rolling around the shed:



Next came the tool trays.  Again they are dovetailed at the corners (how many dovetails is that now?)


(in the photo above notice the tea mug in the background.  Considering how essential this tool is I’m surprised it doesn’t get a mention in Schwarz’s book)


The (nearly) completed chest given a coat of primer, followed by dark blue.  It’s darker than this in reality but it managed to trick the camera.



And finally after suffering 18 months of workshop strife and general indignities:



(somehow in the intervening months it sprouted some handles.  I’m not sure how that happened…)

DSC_3974 DSC_3973



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