The Tools in my Chest, 2018


Readers frequently ask for a list of tools I have in my chest with brand names, tool sizes and short comments on the efficacy of each tool.

I hesitate to do this because a lot of my tools are dictated by the type of work I do. Most people don’t need three sliding bevels. I wish I had six because chairs. But despite my instincts, here is a snapshot of what’s in my chest right now.

Note that this list doesn’t include some specialty tools for chairmaking – a scorp, travisher and spokeshaves – which I keep elsewhere.

Tools in the Top Till of my Tool Chest

The Tools in the Second Till of my Tool Chest

The Tools in the Third Till of my Tool Chest

The Tools in the Bottom of my Tool Chest

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to The Tools in my Chest, 2018

  1. Chris says:

    Having read The Anarchist’s Toolchest and your blogs for some time, the contents are not surprising. I am curious about your planes, what do you use to keep them banging into each other? Especially in transit?


  2. Ken De Witt says:

    What, no Finnegan Pin ?


  3. aczarnowski says:

    Thanks for these posts. And the recent re-look at chest construction. And all the other stuff you’re putting out there to help the next guy, like me, get a leg up on the learning curve.


  4. Dan says:

    You’ve spoken highly but vaguely of your Element’ry Designs screwdriver a couple of times now–including calling it a “lifesaver” in this series. I went to their website to check it out and it looks like…a very attractive, ratcheting screwdriver. I get why screwdrivers are lifesavers, and maybe that’s all you mean, but I’m curious about what makes this one so special.

    Also, a philosophical question: doesn’t having the chisels on the inner front edge of the chest make it difficult to know which one you’re grabbing? If you’re looking for the 1/2 inch, do you have to come behind the box to identify it, or does each chisel have a home, the address of which you’ve memorized?


    • jayedcoins says:

      I have one as well. It isn’t ratcheting. I can’t speak as highly of it as Chris, but I don’t build furniture for a living! I will say it’s very nice, a fair price, and actually comes with nice bits, unlike most stuff at the big box store. The handle feels great, unlike typical plastic/lucite/whatever. And the simple but smart usage of flats keeps it from rolling around on you. It’s just nice to have one screwdriver on your tool rack/bench/chest/whatever instead of six different ones.

      It’s kind of silly, but I really like having both the large and small one. I semi-permanently leave a large flat head bit in the stubby driver — that’s my go-to for resetting the lever cap and cap iron screws on my bevel down planes.


    • The driver is a livesaver because it holds bits better than any 4-way driver. And it holds any hex bit. That’s huge when you have to drive something weird in an odd place and you cannot afford to muck it up.

      I think my praise has been very clear for the tool. I named it one of the tools in my gift guide. You might have missed that. I write a lot.


  5. drewstout says:

    Thank you for posting this. It helps to learn the theory behind why certain tools belong in a tool chest. But it’s also helpful to see real life examples, too.


  6. Rachael Boyd says:

    Just this weekend I watched a vid you made a while ago about the tools in your chest and why you picked them. I see you have changed a couple of the tools. It would seem that a working chest changes over the years. I know mine has. Thanks for the update


  7. Where do you put your coping and fret saws?


  8. Mike says:



  9. Chris,
    Do you like to use granulated moisture absorbent inside the toolchest?


    • I have not found it necessary. My chest is in a climate-controlled workshop.


    • johncashman73 says:

      Be careful. I put a reusable container of the silica gel dessicant in my tool chest, and it did something really weird to my Record 050. I’m not sure what that vintage Record’s body is made out of — some kind of magnesium, maybe? But it formed some sort of whitish film over all the non-steel parts.


  10. You’ve written in the past about cross-peen hammers. What made you go back to the claw hammer?


  11. Brent says:

    Your statement about what you build defines your toolkit got me asking two questions.

    First, what do I have in my toolbox that is not in yours because I build different stuff or work differently? Answer, I have a compass plane that I have used for cooper door panels and other curved work; a Stanley Cabinet Scraper no. 80 for leveling a solid wood frame with a veneer panel; and colored pencils to color-code my cabinet Makers triangles on my parts. My Color-code right side-Red, left side- light Blue, back- Blue and front-green, subject to change based on readability on dark woods like walnut.

    Second, what tools do other people have that you did not list, and what do they use them for?


  12. tsstahl says:

    Pftt! They aren’t french fit into a masterwork cabinet the size of a king size pillow when closed!
    😉 Totally tongue in Cheek.


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