Changes Inside my Chest

My chest has become dirty, dinged and faded from daily use. I love it.

My chest has become dirty, dinged and faded from daily use. I love it.

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.

  1. 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.
Here's the existing 45° profile. It looks fine and is plenty strong. But I prefer the look of a steeper slope.

Here’s the existing 45° profile. It looks fine and is plenty strong. But I prefer the look of a steeper slope.

  1. 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.)
Here's where the chain liberated itself from the carcase. Good riddance.

Here’s where the chain liberated itself from the carcase. Good riddance.

  1. Nix the chain for the lid stay. More on that in an upcoming article with Brian Clites, our moderator.
Here you can see the tool rack and the lower runners that stop at the sawtill.

Here you can see the tool rack and the lower runners that stop at the sawtill.

  1. 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.
I still have the panel – it's a nice piece of work. This morning I put it in place so you could see how it works. It looks nice but makes working out of the chest more difficult.

I still have the panel – it’s a nice piece of work. This morning I put it in place so you could see how it works. It looks nice but makes working out of the chest more difficult.

  1. 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.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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32 Responses to Changes Inside my Chest

  1. bronzy935 says:

    Any chance you will be bringing a tee shirt (or 2) to England? I am on the course at Rowden.

  2. parks2167 says:

    So nice to see the bangs and dents in the chest. I thought I was the only one to mess it up.
    The chain has been a problem for me too. With a tool rack on the front, do you still have enough
    tray sliding space? Also any suggestions for tennon saw locations?
    Enjoy England, try some “Hobgoblin Beer ” Love their logo character.

    • With a tool rack on the front, do you still have enough tray sliding space?

      No. The rack occupies only 1″ of depth.

      Also any suggestions for tennon saw locations?

      Mine is in the sawtill!

  3. Rachael Boyd says:

    I built my chest by watching you and Roy talk about how great it was, then I read your book Anarchist Tool Chest. I also changed a few things for the better. I will send some pic’s later. I will say I do love my chest and work out of it everyday.

  4. aparent100 says:

    Well now you tell me Chris!! Too late! LOL My chest is a virtual clone of yours as you could tell from the pictures that I gave you at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I still love it just the way that it is. I guess that parents usually love their children in spite of there faults.

  5. James Russ says:

    Chris –

    You may have answered this already in another blog post (although I could not find it), or perhaps in the pages of ATC (I admit I was lazy and did not go back and search) and if so I apologize.

    That said, would you mind please posting a source for the ring pulls you use on your tills? Were they perhaps other BS commissions from PR or BBF?

    Thanks,
    Derrick

  6. momist says:

    ” If I still have a sliver of a gap, I’ll miter a 3/16” bead around the skirt. ”
    Mine are huge! To be honest, I’m not really worried by that. Maybe a bit of filler before I paint though . . .

  7. meanmna says:

    Sorry for the extra post … guess I can’t edit one already posted.

    For some reason I always thought yours were iron/steel and not brass. Guess it’s just the antique color on them. I am going to try and find something similar in steel and/or perhaps check with a BS.

  8. Bob says:

    Four Tite-Marks marking gauges?

  9. arkiewoodworker says:

    Ever weighed your loaded chest?

  10. arkiewoodworker says:

    Ever weighed you loaded chest?

  11. John says:

    Good timing, I’m finally getting around to building the tills and runners a year+ after building the chest!

  12. gblogswild says:

    One day I’ll build my own. It won’t be yours.

  13. Ian Whitmore says:

    It’s a MacGuffin.

  14. Adding a chain to my chest has been on the list for a while. Since it sits against the wall I haven’t really needed it so it hasn’t gotten to the top of the priority list. Guess I won’t bother :-). Still need to add the rope handles, though…

    • tsstahl says:

      In my experience rope is not very practical for a chest that actually moves around (painful to the hands). Sure does look cool though, so if the chest is more or less stationary, why the heck not? 🙂

      • Yep – found that when I moved it last summer (with just some knotted loops)… But you are right – I’m not planning on moving it much more and still think it looks cool :-).

  15. Gregg says:

    Any news or report on how well the Dutch Tool Chest stands up to travel and use?

  16. simonjhillier says:

    I’m gonna build a Dutch now that my house renovation is complete (moved in this weekend, yay !!!).

    When I have more tools and my workshop is built (maybe next year) I will build an ATC cos’ it looks amazing. Having seen a fully finished one at Bridgwater earlier this year I was/am in awe of the tools it can store.

  17. Matt Rae says:

    Chris;
    Have you ever thought about putting a hole for a holdfast on the lid. When a bench isn’t at hand it might be nice for doing some work. Do you have any concerns with this – can’t tell if it is genius or a fools errand.

  18. sswantee says:

    I had originally thought about a chain for a lid stay as well, but this changes my mind for sure! Thanks for sharing .

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