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.

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

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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…

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And now flying together in a box formation:

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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:

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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:

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

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The upper skirt soon followed in a much similar vein:

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

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

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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:

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

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(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)

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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.

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

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

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