As I finished up building my tool chest for “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I struggled with the idea of installing a lock on the lid.
Most tool chests have locks. The lock – and the sheer weight of the chest – are an ingenious pre-Industrial Revolution security system.
But I don’t like locks. Never have.
Growing up in Arkansas, we rarely locked our houses or cars. Our neighborhood was definitely a mixed-income ZIP code, with everyone from janitors to doctors. Factory workers at Whirlpool. The owner of the local roller rink – Golden Wheels.
So why didn’t we bolt our doors? Well what if your neighbor needed a cup of sugar? Or there was a fire and someone needed to save your dog? What if you didn’t have a key? Plus, in our family of six there was almost always someone home.
In fact, I’d have to say that the biggest difference of opinion between me and my wife is our locking habits. She always locks everything. She does it so automatically that she regularly locks me out of the house when I go for a run or walk to the store.
Or perhaps she is trying to send me a message….
In any case, I didn’t want to put a lock on my chest, both for psychological and symbolic reasons. I’ve always tried to be as open as possible when it comes to sharing my tools and what I know about the craft. Putting a lock on the chest seemed to send the wrong message.
I skipped the lock, painted the chest and called it done. But the next morning when I came into the shop and looked at the completed project it looked wrong. So I installed the lock and the escutcheon and am now pleased with the way it looks – except for the too-shiny key.
Skip forward a few months and I’m giving a presentation on tool chest design to a woodworking club and bring up the topic of the lock. One of the attendees raises his hand and makes a wry observation: The lockset I’d selected uses a generic key. In other words, thousands (maybe millions) of woodworkers have a key that can open my chest so they can root around in it.
That fact gave me comfort.
— Christopher Schwarz