Anarchist Tool Chest- C. Schwarz Inspired

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Project by AlpE posted 08-04-2020 04:27 PM 1325 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Previously, I posted a project about rescuing an old tool chest that had been sitting in a horse stable for at least the last 4 decades. Prior to taking that project on, I knew very, very little about these kinds of tool chests. I guess I probably still know very little about them, but I know more than I did. In any event, while doing my homework on how to stay as true to traditional style as I could on the original chest, Chris Schwarz and his anarachist tool chest kept coming up all over the place. That man certainly knows tool boxes, and his book and blogs were hugely helpful in assisting me in how to achieve the look of the original box. I had fun and think I did an admirable job of bringing back the life of the old chest, and while I did do a fair amount of work on it that is new, it would be unfair to the original craftsman of the tool chest to say that “I built it.” Whatever I was able to do with it was because I was standing on the shoulders of a craftsman that came before me.

With this line of thinking in mind, and because I had fun and learned a great deal along the way about tool chests, I decided I would try my hand at building my own Anarchists Tool Chest completely from scratch. Maybe someday it will get lost and forgotten about in an old building for a lifetime only to be rediscovered by someone who might also enjoy bringing it back to life, just as I had done. Its a romantic thought, and probably too circle of life-y to actually come to fruition, but I do very much like the idea of a legacy project that might help someone remember the past and how to work with their hands 100 years from now, when no doubt, everything will be mechanized and digitized.

The materials of my chest are more in line with a “traditional” build. The carcass and shiplapped flooring is clear pine, the dust seals, aprons and lid are all poplar. The remastered chest I did was solid oak, which looks a lot better, but also weighs as much as a small Volkswagen. This one is still huge and heavy, but much more manageable than old ironsides.

The whole chest is held together with traditional joinery. The only hardware for actual joinery are the square cut nails holding the shiplaps to the bottom. Carcass, aprons, and dust seals are all dovetailed. 120 dovetails total—-I think. The lid is mortise and tenon with a groove and groove floating panel coffer. Bottom is shiplapped, and the drawers are a combination or through dovetails and half blinds on the face. All, joints cut by hand. I did this project mostly in the last fall and early winter months in a garage with minimal heat. After a while I began to affectionally refer this practice as death by dovetail.

Its far from perfect, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I take pride in the work I did in the remastered tool chest from another post, but the pride I take in this one is a bit different. It’s 100% my craftsmanship, flaws and all. Thats a pretty good feeling.

4 comments so far

View MrWolfe's profile


1669 posts in 1414 days

#1 posted 08-04-2020 05:24 PM


View 55woodbutcher's profile


92 posts in 1117 days

#2 posted 08-04-2020 05:59 PM

Really nice. I enjoyed your restoration project, too.

View therealSteveN's profile


9272 posts in 1865 days

#3 posted 08-04-2020 09:09 PM

Nice chest. Love that box top liner, adds a look you seldom see in a chest these days. You ought to be up to speed on tool chests now.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

326 posts in 2777 days

#4 posted 08-07-2020 10:05 PM

Beautiful Chest

-- -Tim Royal -"Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

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