Late to the show Anarchist style tool chest

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Project by BrentParkin posted 09-20-2016 03:15 PM 5674 views 6 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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.

-- Regards,

14 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


12828 posts in 3664 days

#1 posted 09-20-2016 04:01 PM

Very well done and I can relate to the rusted tool syndrome. Also the tri square came out quite good. Thanks for posting.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View MilFlyer's profile


948 posts in 2885 days

#2 posted 09-20-2016 04:05 PM

Nicely done. That is a fantastic looking toolbox.

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View TheTurtleCarpenter's profile


1053 posts in 2279 days

#3 posted 09-20-2016 05:04 PM

. Very Nice ! Brent. You need more tools !!! Lol

-- "Tying shoelaces was way harder than learning to Whistle"

View BrentParkin's profile


152 posts in 2148 days

#4 posted 09-20-2016 05:09 PM

Thanks Turtle. But really I need to shed a few tools. I knew I would never pony up for a Stanley #1, but what possessed me to snarf up every other bench plane 2-8 plus the halfs and quarter. LOL. A few need to go. LOL. So far I have not had to reach anywhere else other than this chest while I was working out at my shop all summer.


-- Regards,

View JKMDETAIL's profile


223 posts in 2868 days

#5 posted 09-20-2016 05:14 PM

Nice, Been thinking of building something like that myself.

View waho6o9's profile


9055 posts in 3790 days

#6 posted 09-20-2016 05:17 PM

Top shelf craftsmanship, the Best!

View Ivan's profile


16964 posts in 4080 days

#7 posted 09-20-2016 05:58 PM

Impressive box, set of tool and amaizing photos!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View terryR's profile


7652 posts in 3521 days

#8 posted 09-21-2016 03:13 PM

Nice work!
And beautiful tools!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View BlueNo2's profile


10 posts in 2741 days

#9 posted 09-25-2016 02:20 PM

Very nice: I really like the simple but effective customization you did on the tills and built-in tool racks. Keeps most of the ‘sharps” out of harm and errant fingers way.

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5012 days

#10 posted 09-27-2016 04:44 PM

Looks great! I still haven’t pulled the trigger on building a chest, wall cab or otherwise. Still keep mine strewn around the shop. Galoots RULE!

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View BrentParkin's profile


152 posts in 2148 days

#11 posted 09-27-2016 04:55 PM

Looks great! Is it everything you hoped for? I still haven t pulled the trigger on building a chest, wall cab or otherwise. Still keep mine strewn around the shop.

- jcees

Yes having worked on and with it all summer, I would say there is nothing that aggravates me at all. I roll the chest to a convenient spot behind my work bench and goto work on things. I made my sliding tills a little bigger than what an ATC would normally have. I really don’t mind sliding open the till I want to get things. I would like to get more things mounted on the lid since I have room there. The only items that have been hard to locate are the coping and fret saw. Right now they live in the spare space in the moulding plane well.

I added a movable stop to that area to keep the moulding planes from tipping over and that keeps the coping and fret saw safe. I plan to add the Veritas shooting plane this fall and I have the room for it in the main plane well. I have a shorter set of rods coming for my 141 plough plane which will free up space for the shooting plane once they arrive.

All in all I am thrilled with the chest. Today I will be adding some dogbone handles made of red oak to the sides of the chest just for pushing it around the shop. And I should reiterate that I have a bad back and by leaning on the chest, I have no troubles at all picking tools out of the bottom area. So bad back folks need not worry too much about that aspect of the ATC style chest.

-- Regards,

View Matt Vredenburg's profile

Matt Vredenburg

193 posts in 4627 days

#12 posted 09-30-2016 03:06 AM

Great job! I have seen this before and it’s on my list to make. You have done an excellent job and thanks for sharing!

-- Matt, Arizona

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17506 posts in 3831 days

#13 posted 04-20-2017 09:02 PM

Sorry I missed this build, AND missed the fact that you’re the Galoot Designer! How cool! Have to be on Porch too, I’m guessing? I’ve been mostly lurker, sometimes contributor there for some years now. Good group of folks there (as here). Oh, and I covet the depth of your drawers. ;-) The chest that found me (long blog here on LJs about it) is considerably smaller than yours…

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

View BrentParkin's profile


152 posts in 2148 days

#14 posted 04-20-2017 11:06 PM

Missed? Just another ATC! I’m sure people got tired of them when Chris first published his book.

Yeah it has been a long time since the Galoots were a new thing. I miss those days. Many of us were pretty darn close. People sold stuff back and forth using “Old Tools Terms”. Pete Taran and Pat Leach were constantly contributing. I even spent an afternoon with the originater of “Scary Sharp” Steve Lamantia. Although he just named it, didn’t really invent the process. It was a great time. I was also a lot younger!! It was 22 or 23 years ago when I posted my biography on the porch. Heading for my mid 50’s now. Boy time flies. I chuckle when I see your signature with Ralph Brendler’s old quote about anthropomorphizing your hand planes. I remember when Pat and Pete started selling the IT saw. Everyone was scrambling to get low serial numbered saws and used to post their numbers proudly at the end of their posts. I picked my saw up at Pete’s parent’s home in Pennsylvania. I got mine with no serial number just to be different. Then Eddie Sirotich began Adria Tools and I got one of his 14” sash saws. My serial number on it is “2”. LOL. It was great fun.

These days, I have started cutting back my tools. Once I built the ATC chest, I decided that if it didn’t have a spot in the chest, it was fair game to sell. So lately I have been selling off a lot of planes, chisels and such. Neither of my kids like woodworking, and the grandkids are not showing much interest there either. So why hang on to too much stuff. I’m working on the grandson but its tough since his Dad is a metal worker and of course that makes metal shop stuff way more cool. LOL.

Anyway, I have a travelling ATC shell underway now so that I can move some tools back and forth to my summer shop 250km away from home. Can’t wait for my wife to retire so that we can consolidate all my shop stuff in one location again.

Woodworking is such an absolute pleasure isn’t it???



And now a gratuitous tool picture. LOL

Sorry I missed this build, AND missed the fact that you re the Galoot Designer! How cool! Have to be on Porch too, I m guessing? I ve been mostly lurker, sometimes contributor there for some years now. Good group of folks there (as here). Oh, and I covet the depth of your drawers. ;-) The chest that found me (long blog here on LJs about it) is considerably smaller than yours…

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

-- Regards,

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