Traveling with the Traveling Tool Chest

This week I am shooting a series of 10 videos for Popular Woodworking Magazine on getting started in hand tools – everything from chisels to rasps to smoothing planes. So I have to pack up a whole shop of tools and fit it into my hatchback.

Enter the traveling tool chest.

This slightly smaller-sized tool chest fits about 80 percent of the tools of the full-size model that I built for the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” Yet it does this in a chest that is about half the size. You can download the SketchUp plans for free here.

How does it perform this act of clown-car efficiency?

Well, like most things involving contorted clowns, it’s not pretty. All the tools are wedged into the chest but aren’t as easily accessed as they are in the full-size chest. Some planes are stacked on top of other planes. Some tools are wedged under other tools.

But the bottom line is that all the stuff you really need fits. When I get to my destination tomorrow I’m going to have to store a bunch of tools on the shelf below the workbench or even in the – shudder – tool well. But I’ll manage.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to Traveling with the Traveling Tool Chest

  1. Tom says:

    I like the three triangular mortises in the top edges of the box to hold a steel square. Very clever!

  2. tman02 says:

    The link to the download for the free plans of the traveling chest apparently do not work; it wants an executable file.

  3. J. Pierce says:

    Shooting new videos for Pop Wood – does that mean more content is coming for us ShopClass subscribers?

  4. Peter Pedisich says:

    Plastic handled saw? I own one just like it – a Bahco – but I’m just me, you’re C.S.!!!

  5. Peter Pedisich says:

    Sorry, just read your PWW blog entry…my Bahco looks very similar in handle design, except the blade is coated with black non-stick. It is reserved for cutting 2x material or anything knotty.
    Thanks for the 3d model!

  6. David Baker says:

    Can we get see more pictures of your shop?

  7. ty says:

    I feel like I just witness Gunnery Sargent Hartman pull a Jelly doughnut out of Pile’s foot locker. What is this private Pile? Sir a yellow saw sir. How did it get here? Sir I got it from Home Depot Sir. Do we use yellow saws private pile? …
    Now we have to do exercises b/c of it.
    1 2 3 4 I love Marine Core.

  8. Looking forward to the videos! Just finishing up my first woodworking project (the Roubo) with the help of your books and videos.

  9. Andrew says:

    Does a half set of hollows and rounds fit in the traveling chest? I want to get them off my shelf. I love your writing style, it’s reminiscent of my own inner dialogue at times. Thanks!

  10. Mike Siemsen says:

    Plastic handled saws- I get the Irwin Brand from the local Menards(big box store) About every 6 months they sell them with a rebate so I can 2 for free!!
    Tool well bashing- The other day a beer was accidentally spilled on the workbench and I figured out what the tool well is really for. I was able to grab up a great handful of hamster bedding and mop up the spill.
    Traveling chest- Nothing like traveling to figure out what you really need!
    Happy Holidays to all!! Enjoy the solstice!

    • Dave from IN says:

      I have one of those Irwin saws with the orange handle, and I have to admit that it cuts pretty quickly. Rough, but quick. The handle is junk, but for quick crosscuts, I can deal with it. Supposedly there are three versions of this Irwin–a crosscut, a rip, and the “general.” I have the general (like Mike, I got it for free), and it really doesn’t do well ripping, so I exclusively use it for crosscuts.

      They seem to have these on special around Christmas, so if anyone is interested in a cheap saw that will make good scrapers in a few months, keep an eye open.

  11. I think I’m going to start work on a screenplay. I’m going to call it “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Chest”. It’s about these 4 guys who find a tool chest in a old hardware store. They decide to share and pass the chest around. No matter how many tools each of them have, all their tools fit into the chest :).


  12. T.Mitchell says:

    Always love to see real-life pictures of actual tools in service… and I consider the chest to be a tool just as much as anything inside it.

    The point that you can get a lot of stuff in a box if you are good at tool-Tetris reminds me of packing the car for a camping trip. I can always make the stuff fit one way or another. But, if I had to do it over and over again, the fun would wear out soon.

    I think this post sheds a ray of light on the debate over Studley vs ATC. For those wanting (or needing) to continually improve, time will cause an evolution of process, form and function to a point of diminishing returns. I think one of the posts from October hit it square when they said it’s partially a matter of consistency in practice that caused Studley to create what he did. And, I bet if you had to travel with a full set of tools every weekend, you’d quickly imagine a better design that was a step in his direction.

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