One of the unexpected benefits of writing two books on workbenches has been that hundreds of woodworkers have sent me photos of their benches along with notes about the construction process and things they dislike and like about the form they chose.
And now the process is beginning again with tool chests.
This June I taught a class in Germany on building the chest from “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” It was a miracle that anyone took the class. When the class at Dictum was announced, my book hadn’t been released. And who in Europe has room in their shop for a traditional tool chest?
The 11 woodworkers who tool the class at Dictum’s shop came from all over Europe; we even had one guy from Chicago! While I’ve had a lot of great classes, this group was particularly special, and we have kept in touch through the longest e-mail thread I have ever participated in.
And now some of them are beginning to send me photos of their chests. This weekend I got a couple from Brian Eve, a former U.S. serviceman who now runs a kindergarten in Bavaria. Brian brought a lot of tools to the class from the United States that the Europeans had never seen (one of big advantages of having an APO box in Europe).
He had an awesome Bad Axe saw and a crazy dovetail saw. It was a beautiful Spear & Jackson saw that Mark Harrell at Bad Axe had reworked by replacing the sawplate. It looked odd at first – a 200-year-old saw with a shiny sawplate. But Brian loaned it – and all his tools – to the other students, and so everyone got to try tools from all over the globe.
Here’s what Brian wrote about the state of his chest:
“Here are a couple of shots of the current state of my chest. I got the hinges installed today, and I feel confident that I probably won’t have to burn it now. It’s far from done, but beginning to look like a tool-chest-shaped object.
“I almost stopped after two hinges, but decided that now I have the hang of it, I really should take the time to do the third. I am glad I did. It feels much more stable and substantial that way. At least that is what I think now that it’s done.
“I’m off to buy some more wood for the guts tomorrow; I need some pine and oak. Or, I could just use some of the bits and pieces that I have been carting around forever waiting for that perfect project. What do you think, Spanish cedar tills, curly maple bottoms, figured ebony runners and some claro walnut for the saw till?”
I hope Brian is just messing with me there.
And to reward those who have read this far I have a small piece of news I’ll be announcing in the coming weeks. Because of my job change, my wife and I have reconsidered my decision to forgo all teaching in 2012.
Soon I’ll be announcing a very limited number of classes in 2012, including at least one on building this chest at Kelly Mehler’s school next summer. Stay tuned.
— Christopher Schwarz