Hand Tool Chest Contents: No 2. Screw Drivers


Can you help us Find a WINNER? Go here.
I have just been fitting the handles to my own new tool chest. Near the end of the job, fitting components with screws is satisfying and tricky. One slip and the surface is scarred. Overtighten and the screw head is burred or worse it snaps off. Done well, it depends on preparation, good pilot holes, choice of screws and screwdriver.


There are dozens of screwdrivers in my box, gathered over the years they are used for a multitude of indelicate tasks. Opening tins of paint is a favourite. Yet a really good screwdriver should be very carefully fitted to the screw head. Do this well and it will sit in the head of the screw, gain purchase and drive the so and so home with no damage to the job or the screw head. Happy days.

This is the head of a well prepared screwdriver see how the worn end is reground to exactly fit the slot and see the two small chamfers on either side of the blade this is to suit the width of the screw head, stopping it projecting beyond the chamfered screw head and scuffing the countersink in the job


This is the set of screwdrivers we have picked to go in the cabinet that Chris Schwarz made and Jon Greenwood has prepared. They are cabinetmaker style handles in beech; boxwood would have been posher but it has no effect on the job.

There is another class of screwdriver that is maybe better than these. these are gunsmith screwdrivers. Here the blade is not tapered as in the blades above but parallel where they fit the screw. So, more contact with the screw but more expense. The blades above came off eBay and with a small amount of work from Jon Greenwood will be usable for years. Just remember all screwdrivers get worn out just now and again, so dress the end to fit the screw you are using.

These screwdrivers are for slotted screws. We found a nice set of Posi drivers from DeWalt that will be arriving soon for more general work. These cost us about £16 from one of the sheds.


A lot of trouble with Posi drivers is again that they get worn, and rather than pick a new one out of the box we bash on with the job, burring over screw heads. So this little set will enable our young Woody to help avoid that. Many of us at Rowden have taken to using a small cordless drill to do all the small screw driving around the shop.


I would like to put one of these drivers in the box as well but I don’t think we have one spare. Though this is a hand tool box I think we all use these now pretty well all the time.


Remember folks these tools are going into a tool box made by Chris and being GIVEN away in a competition. Closing date is end of November. You must be under 25, a Woody or would-be Woody. Write to me tell me why we should give it to you and send some images – that’s all it takes.  Here are the details. PASS IT ON PLEASE

— David Savage, finefurnituremaker.com

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Marco Terenzi


I spent the afternoon with Marco Terenzi in his shop today. As I was shooting this picture, he said:

“Wait. I’m not supposed to smile, am I? Craftsmen never smile in photos. I have to look all stoic.”

More details on the visit to come.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Handplanes, Personal Favorites | 8 Comments

On Chisels


Can You Help us Find a Winner?
Chris Schwarz came here this summer and made this wonderful tool chest. He sells these in America for $4,000 which is a pretty fair price. We are offering this chest a s prize to a young talented woodworker full of tools and with an all expenses paid trip to Rowden for a one week course (this will be for the finalists). Entries close Nov. 30, 2015. MORE DETAILS HERE and pass it on.

All they have to do is send me a short paragraph about themselves and why they make and a file of images of what they have made. Anyone 25 or under. I am not restricting this to UK, but finalists would need to get to Devon for the week course and would need to get the tools chest home if they won.

What Tools go in that Tool Chest?
Today and over next few weeks we are going to look at the tools we are putting into this chest and why. The aim will be to fill the chest with either new or secondhand, quality tools. Many will come from my own tool collection or from Rowden toolboxes or, maybe, from donations. What I can’t find here I will ask other makers to help donate and what is left we will buy. Maybe one or two tool sellers and manufacturers are going to be asked to contribute a specific tool that we cannot supply ourselves.

This will be controversial. Well, this is an English tool chest and I wanted Sheffield steel chisels. I could have gone for Ashley Iles chisels, which are very popular in Rowden. But I didn’t. I could have gone for Lie-Nielsen carbon steel chisels, but they are American and I get the message from my students that one member of the staff is pushing the A2 chisels as being just as good as O1 steel.

Well, after 40 odd years doing this I would disagree. O1 carbon steel takes a sharper edge than A2. This modern A2 is great above 30°. It is also great for the amateur who does not sharpen every day as it holds the 30° edge for a long time. But a bench chisel is not just for battering with a mallet.

At Rowden we grind at 25° and hone at UP TO 30° (without the training wheels). The advice we give is that once 30° is reached, regrind to 25°. Then you can pare and chop with the same blade. Above 30° you can only chop. I have a mixture of pre-1960 Marples chisels and Japanese chisels in my own tool chest and I have bought the blades shown on eBay for my own students. The steel is hot forged, not cold fabricated. This makes it, I believe, a carbon steel better than O1, which is the modern high carbon steel.

So I have gathered a mixed set of Marples and Sorby blades plus a very nice thin-bladed paring chisel that I have had for 20 years. You can see from the existing Marples labels two or three of them are hardly run in, let alone used. Most have boxwood handles and the narrow neck that defines the period of Sheffield steel that I am talking about – pre-1960.


I use Japanese paring chisels, so this lovely paring chisel will go in the chest. It’s a really beautiful tool: thin bladed, forged steel, as hard as it comes and sweetly shaped by an expert. Jon Greenwood, bless him, is tasked with the problem of flattening the backs of these blades and grinding and honing a perfect edge. Ready for work.

Next screwdrivers, then marking and measuring, then maybe planes. We are really stuck with the saws!

— David Savage, finefurnituremaker.com

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes | 8 Comments

Win a Traveling Anarchist’s Tool Chest (and the Tools)


People ask me what I do with all the tool chests I’ve built while teaching classes during the last five years. The quick answer: I sell them, of course. Sometimes I’ll sell a partially completed shell for $300 to $500. Finished and fully fitted chests with custom blacksmith hardware fetch $3,600 to $4,000.

(Yes, it was weird at first selling tool chests to woodworkers. But Lucy and I are happy for the business, especially now that my oldest daughter is in college.)

This summer I built my last Anarchist’s Tool Chest for the foreseeable future while teaching a class at David Savage’s Rowden workshop in Devon. I built the chest entirely by hand, including all the interior fittings, hinges and lock. I painted it black. Darren Millman, Savage’s right-hand man, made the veneered panel for the lid.

It’s a pretty good piece of work, considering it was produced by a jet-lagged American trying to teach a class of 18 students and build a chest in a week.

Savage is giving this chest away to one fortunate young maker in the UK. He’s filling it with tools. And you’ll get a course at his very excellent workshop.

Entering is easy. Check out this entry on Savage’s blog. And please spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes | 6 Comments

Last Class (for Now)


If you donated tools, time or money to our hand tool immersion class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, I have two things to tell you:

  1. Every one of the 17 students walked away with a tool chest that was stocked with tuned-up hand tools – thanks to you.
  2. It was an awesome experience, both for the students and myself. Thank you.

This week-long class affirmed my undying optimism that the craft has a great future. I’ve always told pessimists that woodworking is written in our blood and that it doesn’t take much to awaken that primal connection we share with the forest and all it gives us.

For the last five days we lived in the forest behind the school. We took our meals there. And during the day we worked like dogs to build a tool chest and the skills that ensure that the craft won’t stop with this generation.

Yeah, I know all that sounds hokey. But the truth is that governments, corporations or institutions won’t raise a finger to sustain the craft. It’s up to you. And it’s do-able.

This fact lays a little heavy on me tonight because this class is the last one I’ll be teaching for several years. I need to edit and write some books, build a lot of stuff in my sketchbook and restore a building.

So go to it.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in Woodworking Classes | 10 Comments

If I Could Give Every Woodworker One Tool…


The goals for the first day of the “Hand Tool Immersion 101” class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking were simple:

  1. Sharpen a 1/2” chisel to perfection.
  2. Sharpen and set up a block plane so it could take fine, fine shavings.
  3. Grind, sharpen and set up a jack plane.

Of the three goals, I was most excited about getting 18 vintage jack planes set up and running. If I could give every woodworker in the world one tool, it would be a jack plane set up with an iron that was ground, honed and polished with an 8” to 10” radius on its edge.

That tool can accomplish incredible feats of flattening. With this tool, you can flatten a board of any width – you are limited only by the length of your arms. Machinery be dammed.

Plus, a good jack plane is handy when working edges, or anytime you need to remove a lot of wood in a hurry.

Thanks to the help of Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks, all of the students became grinding aces in short order. Then they honed up their irons, tuned up their jack planes and started destroying the sample boards we gave them.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we start on the real stuff – building a tool chest with only hand tools. Then we’ll find out if the first day of teaching was worth a dang.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. So after a long day or hard work, the entire class retired to the forest behind the school to cook dinner, drink a beer and talk about woodworking. As I scooted off to bed, they had built a fire in the school’s fire pit and were talking about the day ahead.

You can follow the classroom experience with the hashtag #babyanarchists on Instagram.

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Bedtime for the Baby Anarchists


Though I’ve taught at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking for almost a decade, I’ve never been there after dark. It’s a bit like running into a familiar school teacher in an unfamiliar place, like the grocery store.

When I teach at MASW, I like to eat lunch in the young forest behind the school, but tonight I was tripping, fumbling and crunching across that familiar ground trying to find my students so I could make sure they didn’t poop in Marc’s lake.

I found some tents in the clearing, but they were deserted. That’s spooky. I looked out over the surrounding corn fields that were lit up by the Super Blood Moon and thought: This is going to be a weird week.

For the next five days I’m leading a class of 18 young aspiring woodworkers in a class officially called “Hand Tool Immersion,” but which I affectionately call “The Baby Anarchists.” We’ll be fixing up hand tools and building a tool chest. While that doesn’t sound extraordinary, it is.

Marc Adams graciously agreed to slash the tuition for the students to make it affordable for young woodworkers. He donated the materials for the tool chests we’ll be building. And he is allowing all the students to camp in the forest behind his house and school (I think 14 or 15 are back there now).

About 100 readers of this blog have donated tools and cash so that all of these students will end up a kit of tools they need to seriously get started in woodworking.

And woodworking friends – Raney Nelson, John Hoffman, Brian Clites, Tim Henriksen, Justin Leib – are donating their time to help the students get individual instruction.

Now we just have to feed this crew, so I’ll find out if Domino’s pizza delivers out here (just kidding; this is Papa John’s territory).

I’ll be posting photos of this class all week here and in Instagram under the #babyanarchists hashtag. I hope you’ll follow along here and on Instagram because a lot of you out there made this class possible. And I am deeply in your debt.

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Woodworking Classes | 9 Comments