My Final Visit to Studley’s Chest (And Your First One)

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In about 90 minutes I leave the real world to enter the shadowy territory of H.O. Studley. His tool cabinet and workbench are under the kind curation of a man who wishes to remain anonymous. And so we turn off all the location services on our smart devices.

During this final visit, we will shoot a video about the chest, including a time-lapse film of us unloading it. And we will finish all the extra still photos we need for Don Williams’ forthcoming book, “Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley.”

Don is almost finished with his manuscript. I have read his first draft, and Don has uncovered a lot of information on Studley himself and the interesting journey of the chest from Quincy, Mass., to the wall of a collector’s Batcave.

The photos, by Narayan Nayar, are of museum quality.

The book will be released in March 2015, just in time for the (perhaps final) public exhibit of the chest and workbench that coincides with the Handworks event in the Amana Colonies, May 15-16, 2015. Don’t miss Handworks. Seriously. You will kick yourself if you do. Nothing else embodies the ideas of hand-tool woodworking that we hold dear at Lost Art Press. It’s not a commercial thing. There are no guys selling router bits. No Sham-wows. Just lots of people who love handwork having a good time. Admission is free.

The Studley exhibit will be held at the Masonic lodge in nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The exhibit is being funded entirely out of Don Williams’ pocket with some volunteer help. There is no corporate or museum money behind him. This is, frankly, a huge risk on Don’s part.

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When Don visited here recently I asked him about the exhibit and if he would cancel it if he didn’t sell enough tickets. He replied, “No.” After I asked the obvious follow-up, “Why?” here’s the answer I received.

“Because it has to be done. This might be the only chance for people to ever see these objects. And,” he added, ”I said that I would do it.”

If you are thinking about attending or just want to support this kind of quixotic endeavor, buy your tickets at http://www.studleytoolchestexhibit.com/. Tickets are only $25.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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8 Responses to My Final Visit to Studley’s Chest (And Your First One)

  1. Jason says:

    I love that photo of Don opening the tool chest and light shining out of it. I suppose this IS a sort of holy relic in some ways.

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  2. Sean Yates says:

    I was just thinking that, sort of…
    Reminds me of the “Pandora’s Box” scene
    at the end of Kiss Me Deadly

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  3. tsstahl says:

    “There is no corporate or museum money behind him.”

    I will be in Amana for the show. I was going to pass on the Studley exhibit as the book will satiate my curiosity.

    However, sometimes ya gotta do things that are for the greater good. I’ll see you there and ;’suffer’ through the exhibit. 🙂

    Oh, I do love the refrigerator pic.

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  4. drewstout says:

    Thanks for the reminder! My dad bought the poster from Fine Woodworking way back when they first offered it. He still has it hanging in his shop. I’m giving him the tickets as a Christmas gift. It will be a unique experience for both of us.

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  5. toolnut says:

    I like that picture too. I always think the next picture in the series would be of the cabinet, the glow and a glimpse of one of Don’s feet as he finishes entering the cabinet.

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  6. Ham Salad says:

    I was in Amana a couple of weeks ago and some of the people that work there are excited about the show coming back.

    I’ll be there dragging my father in law along who will enjoy the whole show.

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  7. Dan Westfall says:

    Tickets bought. Room booked. I know one Iowa woodworker who won’t be missing Handworks, or the Studley exhibit. Thanks to all who are putting this on. I’m stoked.

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