Tools to Make the Anarchist’s Tool Chest


The following is a list I should have made four years ago when I first started teaching people how to build the full-size tool chest in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.”

Apologies for the delay.

Here are the tools you need.

Dovetailing Equipment
Dovetail saw (15 point or coarser)
Cutting gauge, such as the Tite-Mark
Mechanical pencil
Dovetail layout square (Or a bevel gauge and smallish try square)
Coping saw with several blades (coarse blades, 12 tpi or so)
1/2” bevel-edge chisel
Mallet (I like a 16 oz. model)
Two pair of small dividers

One bench plane, such as a jack, jointer or smoother
Block plane
Rabbet plane or shoulder plane (if you have one)
If you have a tongue-and-groove plane (or match planes), use them
Beading plane (1/8”, 3/16” or 1/4”)
Plow plane with 1/4” cutter

Nailing equipment
Hand drill
Variety of small bits (1/16” up to 1/8”)
16 oz. hammer
Nail set
Nippers (if you have them)

General Marking/Measuring
12” combination square
12’ tape measure
Spear-point marking knife

Additional Tools
Mortise chisel (1/4″, 5/16″ or a close metric equivalent)
Crosscut handsaw (7 or 8 ppi)
Rip saw (4 to 7 ppi)
Your personal sharpening kit
Clamps (48” bars)

Hardware Installation Tools
Small router plane
Birdcage awl

— Christopher Schwarz

Posted in The Anarchist's Tool Chest | 8 Comments

Campaign Birdhouse (And a Movie)


Campaign birdhouse. It is real. Check it out on my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine.

Posted in Campaign Furniture | 7 Comments

The Making of the Oldtime Woodworker


In a prominent place in a cozy Long Island home are two huge volumes. These interesting books contain a record of that second honeymoon which so few of us attain in this world, the Golden Wedding. The record is a careful description of a trip to the old home in England of Allen Moore and his wife in celebration of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The books are illustrated with photos and letters, and on one page is a document which Mr. Moore—for half a century a loyal American—refers to in this way:

“I regard this document, which I have carefully preserved for 60 years, as my ‘Title Deed of Nobility.’ Some men inherit nobility, some get their titles by robbing other people, but my title came through hard and honest work as testified by Mr. Miller in his endorsement on the back of the indenture.”
Continue reading

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Extravagant Economy


The customers of a country cooper caused him a vast deal of vexation by their saving habits and persistence in getting all their old tubs and casks repaired, and buying but little new work.

“I stood it however,” said he, “until one day old Sam Crabtree brought in an old ‘bung-hole’ to which he said he wanted a new barrel made. Then I quit the business in disgust!”

Town Talk – 1859

—Jeff Burks

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One (or Two) of Jonathan Fisher’s Workbenches


Jonathan Fisher built a number of workbenches during his life in Blue Hill, Maine, according to woodworker Joshua Klein, who has studied Fisher’s journal in detail.

One of Fisher’s workbenches is a lightweight model that uses a basic Nicholson construction with an unusual base that looks a little like a folding ironing board.

Here are some of the details Klein and I observed while looking over the workbench.

1. The front apron of the bench, which is facing away from the camera in the photo above, has two threaded holes in it that look like they were intended for a twin-screw vise.

2. The benchtop doesn’t have a planing stop. Instead it is bored with a series of holes for wooden pegs. Some pegs are designed to restrain the end of the board; other pegs are designed to restrain the board laterally. It looks a lot like workbenches shown in drawings of Nuremburg woodworkers.


3. The underside of the bench uses four diagonal braces and one horizontal brace to restrain the bench while traversing. The aprons are fastened to the legs with nails, which prevent it from swaying while planing with the grain.

fisher_bench_rear_IMG_9877 fisher_bench_notches_IMG_9878

4. The one thing that had Klein and I scratching our heads was the backside of the bench. It looks like the bench had a drop leaf attached with butt hinges. In the middle of the apron are some notches and a semi-circular dado. Our guess is that this was the mechanism for holding the drop leaf up. But we couldn’t figure out how it worked exactly.


Another bench at Blue Hill is a low workbench that looks like a Roman or Estonian model. It is pierces with a lot of holes for pegs (or jigs). There is some evidence of sawing and chiseling that was done on the bench – but not a lot.

This could have been a low workbench that Fisher used. Or perhaps it’s a sitting bench that was used occasionally for woodworking.

— Christopher Schwarz

To read more about Jonathan Fisher and his woodworking, check out these links.

Jonathan Fisher’s Tool Chest (and Tools)
Jonathan Fisher. Begin the Begin
Friday’s Fisher House Tour
The Congregationalist’s Tool Chest


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The History of Wood, Part 10


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Jonathan Fisher’s Tool Chest (and Tools)


Immediately after arriving in Maine last week, Thomas Lie-Nielsen took me and some of his key employees to the Farnsworth Art Museum in nearby Rockland, Maine. The trip was to view the tools contained in Jonathan Fisher’s tool chest.


Joshua Klein, a woodworker who has been studying Fisher, met us at the museum and we were quickly taken to the Farnsworth’s administrative offices upstairs. There, in a corner room, the employees had laid out about 50 of Fisher’s tools with his tool chest sitting on the floor against the wall.

It was an interesting, and somewhat unusual, collection of tools. Of course, Fisher was an interesting and unusual fellow who invented and built all sorts of contrivances and recorded them in his illustrated journal. Some of the things on the table we couldn’t identify. Could that be a slitting tool used to make woven hats (the Fisher family made a lot of hats)?

Other tools were quite familiar.

With the help of the museum staff we examined the tools, asked a lot of questions out loud and simply puzzled over some of the objects in this unique collection. Klein was interested in the tools because he has been researching Fisher’s woodworking (perhaps for a future book). Lie-Nielsen was particularly interested because Fisher is one of his relatives.

(By the way, if you haven’t read anything about Jonathan Fisher, check out the web site for his house museum here. The Wikipedia entry on him only scratches the surface. He was a remarkable and industrious man.)


During our visit to the Farnsworth, I kept focusing on Fisher’s long planes, especially his jack, try and jointer planes. All three of them were festooned with an unusual triangular indentation. The “stippling,” for lack of a better word, was only on the sidewalls of these planes. It wasn’t on top of the stock. And it wasn’t on the sole. (Interestingly, it also wasn’t on his smoothing plane nor any of the moulding planes we examined.)

What was this this for? Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks wondered if it could be something to improve one’s grip on the plane. But the stippling was everywhere on the sidewalls, and not on the top of the plane where you grip it.

There was no rhyme or reason for the marks, and so my speculation is this: It was done by a bored child who was allowed to decorate the sides of the planes with a hammer and some sort of triangular tool.

We might never know the answer. Or perhaps Klein will uncover the answer in one of Fisher’s letters or an unread journal entry.

Next time: One (or perhaps two) of Fisher’s many workbenches.

— Christopher Schwarz

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