Tool Chest #1: Design and Materials

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Blog entry by CartersWhittling posted 01-17-2012 08:06 PM 7855 reads 13 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Tool Chest series Part 2: Starting the Shell »


I have decided to start work on my new chest tool. I am not sure when I will get around to starting the build, but I have got the design and materials ready for when it comes time to begin.

I bought the book by Chris Schwarz “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” back in the early parts of summer,46096,46109. I have always enjoyed reading his blog and when my friend told me about the premise of the book I thought it would be interesting and helpful. In his book he states that he wanted to write a book that he wished he had when he was 11 years old starting woodworking. He goes over the essential hand tools a starting woodworker will need, some non-essentials that are nice to have, and even the few machines that may be useful to the handtool woodworker. In the last part of his book he goes over the entire build of his new tool chest. He talks about how he came to its final design and construction and why it is built the way it is.

His book has helped me try to limit my selection of tools and stick with the basics. And after reading his book, and having worked in my shop for a few years, I have realized I need a tool chest. I often have a collection of saws, layout tools, and other important tools laying on top of my workbench collecting dust, dings, and chaos. So I recently read through the section of Chris’ book on the tool chest again, to familiar myself with its design and function. I have looked at some other chests aswell, but find the tool chest of an anarchist to suit me best.

The anarchist’s tool chest.

After going through the book again I made up my cut list and went down to my local lumber dealer, Exotic Woods I picked up the white pine and white oak needed for the project. I got a great deal on ten 4/4” 12” wide by 6’ long boards of white pine, free of knots and surfaced on two faces.

When I took the lumber back home, I went through laying out the parts for the chest, starting with the largest and most visible parts first. Then I cross cut and ripped the parts to rough size using my newly refurbished panel saws.

Now I have a stack of roughly sized parts awaiting the day I have the time to start the project. Just for kicks I am going to do the entire build using only hand tools. Being white pine even the heavy chores like ripping and thicknessing will be a breeze. The only part I am concerned about is resawing about 9+ feet of 5 1/2” wide white oak by hand. I may give in and use the bandsaw, or perhaps make the newly famous Roubo frame saw to cut it Only time will tell.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

10 comments so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2977 days

#1 posted 01-17-2012 09:28 PM

Looking forward to it, Carter. I’ve read the Anarchist’s Toolchest and haven’t found the need to build my own tool chest, but it’s still a great book with a ton of useful information, especially for those just starting out with hand tools. That Roubo frame saw is quite interesting.

Good luck on the build.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Brit's profile


7386 posts in 2869 days

#2 posted 01-17-2012 09:44 PM

I’m sure it will be fantastic Carter when you find the time to do it. Thanks for posting the link for the Roubo frame saw. I do follow Bob’s blog, but I hadn’t seen that yet. That’s a monster although I think 36” would be more practical and easier for one person to handle. I can see one of those in my future, so if you do decide to make one, please blog about it.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15369 posts in 2644 days

#3 posted 01-18-2012 01:21 AM

Love this, will be watching!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View capper55's profile


7 posts in 2660 days

#4 posted 04-23-2012 02:41 PM

Hi Carter, I’m in the process of building a new workshop and two of my key projects will be a new workbench and a tool chest. Your workbench project was both awesome and invaluable, so I hope you are able to get your toolchest underway soon. I can’t wait to see it

-- My inspiration is the Carpenter of Nazareth

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2700 days

#5 posted 04-29-2012 02:15 AM

I would like to get working on the chest soon myself. I have skipped planed most of the wood already, so whenever I can start making the time, I will begin building. I will hopefully get it built by the end of the summer.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View lysdexic's profile


5255 posts in 2649 days

#6 posted 05-06-2012 04:15 AM

Why not make not make a cabinet? Hang the cabinet next to you workbench. I am not being a smartass. I have read the same book and found the message and list of tools valuable. Yet, I can not see the value in storing my tools in a box on the floor. Why have you decided that you do? Curious.

Thanks – Scott

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2700 days

#7 posted 05-07-2012 01:34 AM

That is a good question Scott. I thought about that too before and after reading the book. To answer you I made a short list of some things I think give a traditional tool chest an advantage over a wall hung cabinet.

1. Although the chest is heavy when full of tools, it is portable. So if you do travel, or do on job site work (probably not) you can take the chest with you.
2. The chest can be used as another saw bench. If you do have a small shop the chest can save you from making two saw benches and taking up more space. You you do plan on using the chest often as a saw bench I would make sure it is the proper height to be used as one.
3. No risk in dropping tools or have tools fall like is possible with a wall hung cabinet.
4. Although most shops do not have as many windows as is ideal, the tool chest will not use up wall space or block windows if doors are open. I don’t know that this is really a great point, as usually floor space is more precious than wall space.
5. It has the best method I know of for storing joinery/moulding planes. The space in the back of the chest for the moulding planes holds the planes vertically so you can see the profile and markings on the heel. And because they are in a chest they will keep clean.
6. The tills provide a storage system which allows you to store tools quickly and allows you to change the tool arrangment without making new holders and things like on a wall cabinet.
7. The chest protects your tools from dust.
8. And it’s cool.

I figure I have to make some method of tool storage, a wall cabinet or tool chest, and the tool chest seems like the better solution. Plus the chest is a traditional appliance in any hand tool shop.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View lysdexic's profile


5255 posts in 2649 days

#8 posted 05-07-2012 03:38 AM

Number 8 is all you need.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 2700 days

#9 posted 05-07-2012 04:13 AM

I think I might agree, haha.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4353 days

#10 posted 10-07-2012 03:44 AM

great project – and thanks for the links to the Roubo saw. The more I become a Normite, the more I become a Luddite too.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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