On the Eve of an ‘Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ Class


While I think tool storage is a fascinating topic, I don’t expect you to feel the same way. During the last several years, Jeff Burks and I have amassed an image library of workshops from the Middle Ages to the present. After looking at hundreds (perhaps more than a thousand) images, definite patterns emerge.

Here is a question that gets to the heart of the issue.

Chris Thompson writes: “I have read many books of yours on workbenches, furniture styles and hand tools, and I have enjoyed every one. I have started acquiring hand tools over the last year or so. I started researching hand tools after I made a bed for my son. I had 22 mortise-and-tenon joints to cut for the bed. However, I could never get the joints to sit perfectly flush due to the lack of minor adjustments using the table saw to cut the tenons. The shoulders were a tad off on most the the tenons.  Needless to say, that’s when the hand-tool bug got me.

“Anyways, I am curious about hand tool storage. In one of your workbench books you describe how to build a rack that mounts on wall or over a window to store them. Then I read ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.’ So…I guess what I am trying to ask is, open rack or chest? Thanks for your time in listening to my long-winded question.”

Me: “Anyone who tells you there is one way to do something is selling something.

“Racks are more common in European workshops. Chests are more common in England and the United States (though racks are common in the States, too). Both approaches are totally valid, and the choice depends on your shop. If rust or theft is a problem, chests are a better way to go. If you have a lot of wall space, racks are ideal.

“I have worked out of a floor chest since 1997, both to deter rust and ‘theft’ in a common shop.

“When I wrote ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,’ the chest was a literary conceit. It was an idea – a way to limit the tool-acquisition problem common to many woodworkers. I actually didn’t think anyone would build one — though I love mine dearly.

“So do whatever suits your personality.”

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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6 Responses to On the Eve of an ‘Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ Class

  1. Thomas Scott says:

    So what does an anarchist’s tool rack look like?

    • lostartpress says:

      Two long boards that are screwed together with 1/2″ spacers between. Screw that to the wall. Done.

      • Tom Dugan says:

        Exactly the solution I arrived at independently. BUT … make the boards and spacers sufficiently long that your chisels, for instance, don’t tilt over and bang into their neighbors. You can see that in the pic above, and it’s a mistake I made at first.

  2. You mean I can still be in the club with wall-hanging tools? Alright!

  3. “Anyone who tells you there is one way to do something is selling something” How true, thanks for maintaining a great blog!

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