You weren’t supposed to build the tool chest in “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” It’s a metaphor. A conceit. A Trojan something or another.
I did my homework before I built it. I still have all that research piled into folders upstairs. But when I started writing the book, the physical chest became less important than the ideas it represents.
So it’s not perfect. It’s a prototype. When I build a chest today for customers or a class, here’s what I do differently.
- Install the lower skirt before attaching the bottom boards. This allows me to clamp the living pee out of the skirt where it meets the carcase. The result: Fewer gaps between the carcase and the lower skirt. If I still have a sliver of a gap, I’ll miter a 3/16” bead around the skirt.
- Change the profile on the skirts. I use a 45° bevel, which is fine. After messing about, I prefer a bevel that is 1” high and leaves a 1/8” flat at the top. (The exact angle depends on the the thickness of your stock. Don’t worry about the exact angle.)
- Nix the chain for the lid stay. More on that in an upcoming article with Brian Clites, our moderator.
- Reconfigure the sawtill and runners. OK, this is complicated to explain and I’ll be brief. My chest had a hinged panel between the sawtill and the lower tray. It acted as a door to the lower section of the chest and as a stop for the lower tray. In traditional chests, the panel was a shelf to put the stuff you needed every day in the shop – your apron, hat etc. In use, I hated it. It really got in the way of my work. So I removed it. And that is why the runners for the lower tray stop at the sawtill. Don’t imitate me. Make the runners for all the trays run the full depth of the chest.
- Add tool racks. I like a tool rack pierced with 1/2” holes on 1-1/8” centers. My favorite one is on the front wall of the chest.
I’ve had about 100 people suggest other changes, from making the dust seal surround the lid on four sides and hinging the seal (not a bad idea), to adding a tissue dispenser (a bad idea). Feel free to discuss these amongst yourselves in our fetal forum.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. When I return from England next month, one of the things on my list is to update the complete list of tools in my chest and post it here. And to get the “Anarchist Tool Chest” T-shirt live in our store. So stay tuned.