I get a lot of questions about the specific tools I have in my chest. On the one hand, I resist answering the question. “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” was written to give you the ability to make those choices for yourself.
On the other hand, I’d like to tip my hat in appreciation to the toolmakers who have busted their butts to make these tools that put food on my table.
So here is my current inventory of tools. Know that I paid the “bronze price” for every one of these tools. No discounts. No freebies. Full retail.
My bench planes are little changed. I use a Lie-Nielsen No. 8 as my jointer. I still have the same Stanley No. 5 (a Type 11) as my jack plane. My smoothing plane is a Lie-Nielsen No. 3 in bronze with a 45° frog, improved chipbreaker and a (gasp) Veritas PM-V11 iron. I am a huge fan of this steel. It takes a wicked sharp edge that lasts a long time.
My block plane is still the same Lie-Nielsen No. 60-1/2 with the original high-carbon steel iron. This plane will be buried with me. It’s the best production block plane I’ve ever used.
For rabbet planes, I’m still using the Veritas Skew Rabbet Plane. The depth stop has broken off (that’s OK; I don’t use it much). And the fence is off the plane as much as on. It’s a great plane. I also fell into a used Clark & Williams 3/4” straight rabbet plane that I use about half the time. I should probably get rid of one of these planes. I don’t need both.
My plow plane is a Stanley No. 45 that I picked up from Patrick Leach. I decided to mothball my Barrett & Sons plow because its price was so intimidating to beginning users. And Barrett & Sons seems to have closed up shop. The No. 45 is an outstanding plow.
On moulding planes, I’ve been scaling back. I’d purchased a half-set of Clark & Williams (now Old Street Tools) hollow and rounds. That is total overkill, but that was the “frugal” option offered in the 1990s for people who didn’t want a full set. I use my No. 6s, 8s and 10s for the most part. The other planes lie dormant. I’ve been giving away unused planes from this half set to people who need them.
For beading planes, I still have a 3/16” beader that I use all the time (also from Clark & Williams). I’ve tried out 1/8” and 1/4” beaders, but they really aren’t necessary for my work and aren’t in the chest.
But I’ll never get rid of my Mathison 1/2” square ovolo. I love this tool. I also have added a 1/2” ogee plane from Caleb James to my set. It’s another winner.
Years ago I sold off my Lie-Nielsen No. 48 tongue-and-groove plane. That was a mistake. I now have the Nos. 48 and 49 in my chest (I hate buying tools twice, but there you have it). These are essential for making back boards and bottoms for casework.
For router planes, I have the Lie-Nielsen large and small router planes. I own all the extra accessory irons, but those aren’t necessary unless you do specialty work. I never use them.
I still have the Lie-Nielsen No. 73 shoulder plane.
The big addition to the tool chest was the Lie-Nielsen No. 51 shooting plane. The Veritas version works just as well (John Hoffman owns one). But the Lie-Nielsen came out first, so that’s what ended up in my tool chest. The good news is that it fits in the chest (barely).
In my next entry I’ll cover saws.
— Christopher Schwarz