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!