Everything I need for my tool chest shell.
Christopher Schwarz is literally off the grid at the moment – so he has no idea that I’ve commandeered his blog for the weekend (though I suspect he’ll soon figure it out). But it seems appropriate, because I’ve finally begun building my version of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” (ATC).
It’s pathetic that I’ve waited this long.
I watched as Chris built his first ATC in late 2010, before, I think, he’d even come up with the title. He’d leave the Popular Woodworking shop every night (you know…when he still worked for a living) to race home and make dinner for his family, then write until the wee hours. And after he was satisfied with the words, he moved on to the images and book design.
By April 2011, Chris was almost done. I distinctly recall copy editing an almost-final proof of ATC on April 15 and 16 last year. Why? Because there was a Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event (and the public unveiling of Chris’s chest…so to speak) in our office/shop that weekend – so I was wielding my peacock-blue editing pen (it’s so much kinder than red) while also talking with visitors and giving tool demonstrations. And Chris wanted the book off to the printer on April 17. If you have a first edition of the book, well, that explains the crap editing.
So I read the book twice again before the second edition was published (and caught almost all the earlier mistakes) and again before the third edition (at which point I caught, I hope, the rest of them). If you have the latest edition and find an error, I really don’t want to know (but Chris does – feel free to point it out to him).
After “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” was published, Chris started traveling around the world to teach classes on building the chest (like Elvis, he’d by that point left the [PW] building). And I even spent a week as his helper monkey at Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s School early this spring, during which I cut what I think was eleventy-billion board feet of poplar for all the students’ skirts, lid pieces, bottom boards and battens. (I’m now awfully good with a panel saw, if I do say so myself). I helped glue up cases and fit skirts, and helped a new woodworker learn to cut his first hand-cut dovetails (though he didn’t need much help).
This is all a (very) long-winded way of saying that I know “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” inside and out – both the book and the construction. Yet I’ve not actually built the darn thing.
Within the next two weeks, if all goes according to plan that will have changed. This morning, I glued up panels for the case front, back and sides (and pesky knotholes have dictated that my chest be just shy of the 24″-wide panels called for; I guess that’s my idea of anarchy?).
Tomorrow, I’ll trim the panels to final size and process the stock for the skirts (yes, I’m using the PWM power equipment for that – sue me). Then, I’ll bring everything home to my hand-tool shop and break out the dovetail saw. My goal is to have the shell, bottom, battens and skirts done by next weekend, at which time I’ll build the lid. But unlike someone else, well, I still have to go to work every day…so I hope I can stick to my plan.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. Christopher will be back on the grid – but busy teaching – come Monday. He’s back at Roy’s in Pittsboro, N.C., teaching students to build…the Anarchist’s Tool Chest. (This time, he’ll have to do his own rough stock prep.)
p.p.s. The best thing about this build so far? I needed to buy liquid hide glue, and the only place near me that sells it happens to be right next door to Graeter’s. Excellent!
35 thoughts on “The Chestmaker’s Apprentice”
Oh my, what flavorsssss??! Or is that a pie?
Have fun with the saws. I’m planing maple this weekend.
That’s a Radio Roll (aka a pastry with pecans and caramel). Yum.
mmmmmmm!! I hear the call of the mixing bowl and the oven….Guess I’ll plane till I’m thin enough to have one of those tonight.
Anyone who says eleventy billion is alright in my book. Enjoy building your tool chest!
Megan that would be a hardware store I would want to visit often! Good luck with your chest, I am working on my second one, my first had a couple joints that really bothered me because I knew they were off so my brother bought it from me for the price of the stock. Might get it done if I stopped making squares and vices and the rest of the stuff Mr Schwarz has stuck in my head!
Have fun building your ATC.
By the way, how is the LVL Roubo doing?
I will – thanks! The Gluebo is holding up gangbusters. The top -still- has not needed flattening. I wholly recommend that material for a top. For knockdown legs…not so much. They’ve compressed a little so the top-to-leg connections have required some fiddling to keep the leg vise flush with the top’s edge (but really, it’s a pernickety problem…not a big deal)
Waited this long to … build the chest or commandeer the blog?
Both, really. (though I’ve commandeered the blog before)
I’ve been meaning to drop you a congratulatory note for the last couple of days, so a belated congratulations on your promotion. You do nice work.
Underneath the bottom skirt, you should conceal your favorite literary quote. If someone needs to replace or repair the skirt a couple hundred years from now, they will find it.
And thanks, especially, for bumping that other post from the top of the blog.
PS. I was referring to the toolchest’s skirt, not yours. Don’t write anything under there.
And that’s an excellent idea…if only I could choose a favorite. Perhaps “I was born to speak all mirth and no matter” or “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”
And who knows…maybe that -is- tattooed under my skirt.
How about “To be or not to be.” Kind of appropriate based on how long you said it took you to get started building it. (I have a lot of projects that are “To be or not to be.” Only time will tell what they truely are.)
My favorite is probably “How far that little candle throws his beams — So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” But I think for your toolchest, the quote must be, “Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.”
For the last several years, I’d have to go with “Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.”
I think a dirty limerick would be in order. Perhaps a contest of best limericks hidden under skirts — of tool chests.
“Snug the Joiner was here”
Or, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Eleventy Billion – that’s not even a real number… Yet.
Yeah it is. I’m pretty sure it’s the national debt.
I put way too much thought into eleventy billion and realized that the national debt blew by that a long time ago. Assuming Eleventy is 110 (given that forty is 4×10 and seventy is 7×10 etc,) then Eleventy billion is 110 billion and that (wait for it) is only 1/146 of the current national debt. OUCH! Still a boat load (literally) of board feet to cut, so my condolences.
My eleventy billion was wishful thinking it sounds like…
If that’s the pesky knothole shown on the bottom of the panel in the picture – don’t cut it off and make your panels mo-narrow – fill the little dear with epoxy! That’s an authentic wood working repair – or, go hog wild and repair it with a dutchman. Very (in fact, much more) retro and then you have the entire width to work with.
It is indeed, but the panels are oversized right now. When I trim them, I’ll be within a gnat’s butt of the proper width. I’m OK with it being smaller by only the posterior of a bug.
Great stuff! I hope it goes well. 🙂 Do we get to see a video of you dancing for joy on your new ATC when it’s dome?
Pecans and caramel? Mmm…decadent!
could happen. Could involve wine. Lots.
Looking forward to it! 😉 Just don’t fall off and hurt yourself; that would make us very sad.
I can’t wait to see it Megan. I love seeing everyone’s iteration on the basic design. Any plans for the inside?
You’ll enjoy this project – I sure did. It took me about four months, as I have a day job too. I lost one weekend meeting you and Chris at the Chicago Lie-Nielsen event and another trip to Boston where I saw Peter Follansbee’s work in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Aside from that, I was obsessed with my massive chest – somehow 1-1/2 bigger in both directions. Cypress was a happy accident, has a nice texture painted but weighs a ton. Ebony drawer glides were my one excess.
It’s an absolute joy to use.
Mine is a first printing – and I caught a couple errors which gave me great comfort, as everything I build has a few flaws. Perfection is for brain surgeons not for Anarchists.
I’ve just written a short piece called “The Conformists Toolchest” It’s about my trip to Sears to buy a tool cart.
I chuckled out loud at that one!
and hide glue is good with everything. Kinda like ketchup.
One note on sliding tills- I have a 19th century chest that I have used for years, with six sliding tills. All six are the same width and depth, varying only slightly in length as they step down in pairs deeper into the chest. A nice arrangement until the moment you bring home a tool that fails to fit in the first one. Fails to fit one, fails to fit all, and to the bottom of the chest it goes. Variety is the spice of life and tool chest tills.
Alas, I confess that I would make the store next to Graeters my exclusive supplier.
Regarding Skirt, has anyone thought of adding a KILT to the apparel store?
Ok Megan we want pictures!
Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!
Comments are closed.