The No. 1 question I get from students in my tool chest classes: “Aren’t you tired of building tool chests?”
That’s like asking a delivery-room doctor: “Aren’t you tired of delivering babies?”
Helping woodworkers build a tool chest and workbench that will set them on a life of making things never gets old. Building a chest or a workbench in a classroom with 18 other people is a sometimes-grueling way to learn the basic joints of the craft and make mistakes in a place where they can easily be fixed.
And in only five days, it’s all over. You have a place for your tools and you know how to use them.
This week I’m teaching a particularly special Anarchist’s Tool Chest class at Warwickshire College in England. It’s a big deal for me for two reasons. First, it’s the first time I’ve ever taught in England. Second, I am the first instructor hired by The New English Workshop, a small company that has a lot of the same fundamental principles as Lost Art Press.
The two founders, Paul Mayon and Derek Jones, are committed to growing the hand-tool craft in England and supporting the existing structure of craft education in this country (more on that later in the week). They have a lot of interesting classes and events planned for 2015, so do sign up updates from their their blog.
We are three days into the class right now, and things are going well. Except for the fact that I am having the occasional and strange attack of deja-vu. Here’s why: We are building these chests from yellow pine, which is almost certainly from the United States. So as I am surrounded by these tea-sipping, warm-beer-loving English woodworkers, I am occasionally overwhelmed by the familiar turpentine odor of yellow pine. It makes me feel like I’m back in Arkansas and in one of our unfinished houses on the farm. And all the turkeys and armadillos have English accents.
So yeah, it’s a bit weird.
But I love the weird, and so I’m off to a sports bar with the students in a few minutes. I wonder if Bud Light sponsors the local cricket league. I hope not.
— Christopher Schwarz