This last entry in this series will focus on the remainder of tools I have in my chest today. Most of them have to do with making holes and filling them.
While I had great affection for my Spofford brace, I found that a ratcheting brace is really helpful for reaming mortises, particularly when correcting a reaming gone wrong (boy, that sounds salacious). So I gave my Spofford brace to a student and now have one of the Stanley versions of the North Bros. famous brace.
The other big change in the world of hole-making is I use WoodOwl augers instead of Irwins. The WoodOwls cut faster than any vintage auger I’ve tried. And they work in my electric drills, too. I store my augers in a tool roll from Texas Heritage Woodworks. Normally I wouldn’t single out a tool roll for praise, but this is the best one I’ve ever owned. It’s bulletproof, rolls up tight and holds a lot of bits.
I’m a big fan of hand drills, and when I wrote “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I had a Millers Falls No. 2A or 5 (I forget). Five years later I have a Millers Falls No. 2A or 5 (I forget). In the intervening years I had a Goodell-Pratt, but a friend fell in love with it, so I gave it to him.
As far as bits for the hand drill go, I have the little plastic boxed set from Rockler (best $20 I’ve spent in boring) and a set of Snappy countersink bits. The Snappys are made in the U.S. and are much cheaper than the Fullers (also made in the U.S.). Get the Snappys, they are 11.4 times better.
The Wonderful World of Screwdriving
I had to become a better person who drives screws to write “Campaign Furniture,” which involved installing hundreds of pieces of inlaid brass hardware. I have the Grace USA set of screwdrivers, which is what I have in my chest’s tool rack. They have held up really well.
I also have the two Elemen’tary screwdrivers that take replaceable bits. And I use gunsmith bits from Brownell’s (I have the standard set No. 2). One caution: If you order from Brownell’s, be ready to receive lots of gun literature, which may be welcome or unwelcome in your house. The NRA sent my wife a tote bag as a result. Weird.
Also new to my chest is a Starrett centerpunch, which makes installing hinges easy. I still use (and love) my Czeck Edge birdcage awl.
I also have some junky hardware store screwdrivers and an eyeglass screwdriver for odd jobs (or to loan to people).
I don’t keep my sharpening gear in my chest – I keep it in a boot tray under my bench. I use Shapton Pro stones (#1,000, #5,000 and #8,000) and a Lie-Nielsen Honing Guide. I have been switching back and forth between oilstones and waterstones and landed on Shaptons because they will sharpen everything, even D2.
I still have three Auriou rasps: The cabinet rasp, modeller’s and a rattail. All are protected in a tool roll. I also have a brush for cleaning them.
Odds & Sods
The second till of my chest has become a repository for spares – spare TiteMark blades, a lifetime of Pegas blades, a toothing iron for my block plane, a whole box of pencil leads.
My Cabinet Scraper
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my Sandvik cabinet scraper, which I’ve had since day 1. They don’t make it anymore (the story is that the machine that ground them broke and Sandvik decided not to replace it). It’s protected in its original plastic holder and is sharpened with an Arno carbide burnisher.
— Christopher Schwarz