|Project by BrentParkin||posted 09-20-2016 03:15 PM||1208 views||4 times favorited||12 comments|
Well I know I am really late to the party when it comes to building an English style tool chest. Previously I had a dream workshop which I gave up temporarily when we sold our home a few years ago. The home was getting too large and the kids were gone so downsizing was in order. We picked a much smaller home that we knew would only be for a few years until we built another home to live in until age would make that impossible. So my tools went to a temporary shop located 2 1/2 hours from me. The temporary shop was unheated unless I was on site working on a project.
After the first winter, I went out to do some work in the spring and discovered to my horror, that my hand tools (and power tools) were covered in a layer of rust. I spent the next summer cleaning and repairing things and trying to decide how I was going to prevent this from happening again.
Nothing like finding your fine tools no longer looking so fine!!!
Previously my tools mostly lived in a standing cabinet I never quite completed many years ago. A cabinet that I hated working from and really was a space hog considering how much was in it. It was more a display chest that let me look at what I had collected over the years. I did not use most of the tools, but it looked nice. So a little WEB research lead me to Chris Schwarz and his Anarchist chest. So I bought the book and read it cover to cover over a couple of days. I decided I would build the English chest pretty quickly.
I spent the next few months pouring over how the chest would work for me and how it would be fitted out. I pondered which tools would make it to my version of Pat Leach’s “Inner Sanctum”. There are some in the chest that have duplicate functions, but which I still use or which still hold a special place in my shop for one reason or another. Currently there are 55 planes in the chest. I have plans for a 56th later this fall, but beyond that, I really need no more to build the things I like to build.
It was tough choosing. My Galoot blood goes way back to the 90’s when I was one of the earlier Galoots. If you have ever seen the Galoot logo with the Neanderthal planing, I designed that. I’m just a quiet Galoot that mostly builds things and reads what the other Galoots have to say. LOL.
Once I had my ideas nailed down, I purchased 100 bf of Alder at a good price and set myself to work. By the time the chest was complete the interior was fitted mostly with Red Oak and the chest of lighter Alder. As I worked on the chest, it started holding things which is a danger. The box gets too useful some times and stops you from finishing things. By the time it was on casters, It was directly behind me when I stood at my bench. I was able to instinctively reach behind me and grab things without moving away from the bench. I really started loving the way it let me work! I have something wrong with my back that causes me enough pain when I move certain ways that I even scream yet, never was it hard to retrieve things from the chest. One hand on the edge transfering my weight to the chest and I could reach anything with ease. I was worried this might be a problem but it wasn’t.
So what I thought might be more of a storage option has become my method of working now. I love the chest. I installed a gun safe dehumidifier in the bottom which turned the chest into a sometimes tailed apprentice of sorts, but keeps things nicely above dew point. I’m grateful Chris made the effort to write the book it was inspiring and has changed how I work for the better.
I did disobay him as he suggests in the book. Some small things that make me chuckle when I think about them. For one, I am Canadian. My whole life I have lived with Robertson screws everywhere around me. So, to be honest, straight bladed screws look wrong to me. There is nothing like the fit and ease with which you can drive a Robertson so where I have screws in use on the chest, they are Canadian made Robertson headed screws. My chest was a little bigger than Chris’. Mine is 42” long, 26” deep and 26” high. My tills have a few dividers in them and are three different depths. One till even has a small sliding subtill in it where scrapers, a box of brad point bits and a couple of other things reside. I have squares attached to the underside of my lid. My back saws hang behind the tool rack at the front. Finally a safe home for my original Independence Tool dovetail saw. I treasure that tool because it was the first in the wave of new Western Saws. Pete Taran made an amazing tool. There is an Adria saw there too (Serial number 2). A couple of vintage restored saws from England and Scotland live there as well. There was even room for a small Veritas cross cut saw. It works great and I don’t find them ugly like some do.
As I said, the chest has changed how I work. It also has encouraged me to shed a few tools as much as I love them. Soon some nice stuff will head to e-Bay…. maybe…. SWMBO says it better…..
As I was finishing my chest’s construction, I realized I had a bunch of Alder left, so I built another chest. A small 32” one. Looks like an Anarchist chest, but it is headed to my daughter for her to have. She’s calling it a memory box…. Biggest memory box I have ever seen. It got two sliding tills in it. Really its just about a travelling Anarchist’s chest.
Anyway, I hope anyone looking enjoys the pictures. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ping me.