Anarchist Tool a Weekend

  • Advertise with us
Project by TropicalWW posted 05-16-2012 02:14 PM 10281 views 22 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello all!

I’ve made a few posts, but mostly I’ve just been a lurker. However, I wanted to share my latest project with everyone.

I made a version of the Anarchist’s Tool Chest….in a weekend. I kept track of my time, and I had 15 hours of construction time in this, not including the painting. I would have done it even faster, but I made a few mistakes and had to try to figure out how to fix them!

I sent these photos and description to Chris Schwarz. Chris blogged about it here:

Lost Art Press Blog

Since I thought some of you might like a few more details, I figured I’d make this my first project on LumberJocks. :-)

I’ve got a move across the country coming up. It was a little unexpected and many things need to happen really fast. I found myself standing in my shop asking myself how the heck was I going to pack all my stuff? I didn’t want to put tools in boxes, hope they don’t get damaged or start to rust, have to unpack them on the other end, and make time to reorganize them. Since I had been thinking about the idea of working out of a tool chest rather than pegboard and shelves, building a tool chest seemed like the best solution. The problem is I need to pack the shop up NOW.

I don’t have a ton of time to dovetail a case, skirt, dust seal, tills, etc., so this box is made of $30 BORG plywood held together with pocket screws and a few biscuits for alignment. The inside of the box is the same size that Chris outlines in his book, but the outside is a touch smaller due to using ply and not 1” solid wood.

The bottom of the chest is also a big time saver. I don’t have a tongue and groove plane, and while I could made the T&G on the table saw, I didn’t want to mess with all the set up if I could avoid it. So, I purchased some SYP, T&G “V” board from Home Depot. I cut the pieces to rough length, screwed them to the bottom of the chest since I didn’t think nails would hold as well in the plywood, and planed everything flush.

The bottom skirt is the same “V” board. Take off the tongue and there is an instant chamfer.

The top skirt and dust seal were just clear pine from the BORG. None of the skirting pieces were dovetailed, I didn’t even do miters. Just but joints with a biscuit and screws. They may not last forever, but the tools will be protected just fine.

The top is still an inch thick, but I didn’t have time for a frame and panel. So, 3/4” ply glued to 1/4” ply makes a hefty and stable top. The dust seal is biscuited to the top with some screws to help a little while the glue dried. (Yeah….it’s hard not to keep around some of Norm’s thinking!)

The hinge is a 30” length of piano hinge…nothing fancy.

The tills are done the same as the main carcass. Biscuit to align, screws to hold. The deeper till has a B/C Sanded ply bottom, but upper tills have 1/4” hardboard for the bottoms….again, no time for ship lapping.

The runners for the tills are poplar because that’s what I had. Nothing had to be planed to thickness since I had those pieces in the needed 1”, 1/2” and 1/4” thicknesses right from the craft wood section of the BORG.

My sawtill is a little shorter than Chris’s because I wanted to make the bottom sliding till able to move the whole depth of the box. (I’m not sure that’s really necessary, but I did it anyway!)

I also didn’t put in the divider for the molding planes because I don’t have any…someday, but nothing right now. (If anyone would like to send me some hollows and rounds….I’d be happy to install the divider to keep them safe and sound! :-)

I think that’s it for the construction differences. If you are on the fence about working from a tool chest, give this construction method a shot. It’s quick and built like a tank. If you hate it, you’re not out a ton of time or materials. Everything can be purchased from the BORG!

I’m really happy with how this project turned out, and it proves just what Chris Schwarz is all about with his books and teaching. Chris shows how he would do something with the tools and resources he has. He gives reasons for why he made the decisions he made and what mistakes he’s made in the past. He then leaves the door open for us to go out and find the way that best fits our time, skills, and budget to achieve the same goals.

Thanks for reading! :-)

12 comments so far

View CWChandler's profile


6 posts in 2882 days

#1 posted 05-16-2012 02:53 PM

Well done. That will surely make transport easier and no more wondering “what box are my chisels in?!”

-- CWC

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4250 days

#2 posted 05-16-2012 03:13 PM

Saw this first of Chris Schwarz’s blog.
Really, really nice job Mike.
I bet a LOT of guys are going to build this chest.

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2895 days

#3 posted 05-16-2012 03:17 PM

Ditto on seeing it on the blog. Nice work for a weekend. Be interested in seeing how it works for you as I’ve got this on my long term project list.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View Jeffrey Alexander's profile

Jeffrey Alexander

114 posts in 3367 days

#4 posted 05-16-2012 03:41 PM

Nice Box

-- "--Build Beauty to leave to those who appreciated it , not to ungrateful kids..."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3790 days

#5 posted 05-16-2012 08:07 PM

nice toybox :-)

thanks for sharing


View RJS's profile


89 posts in 3521 days

#6 posted 05-16-2012 10:40 PM

I was very intimidated to attempt to make a tool chest. This looks very good and simple. I believe that I will try one of these chests. You did a great job, very inspiring.

-- RJ

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4231 days

#7 posted 05-16-2012 11:52 PM

Nice solution, i like the sliding drawers

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3289 days

#8 posted 05-17-2012 06:51 AM

this will work great job

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Mauricio's profile


7165 posts in 3826 days

#9 posted 05-17-2012 01:50 PM

Very nice!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2981 days

#10 posted 05-18-2012 02:21 AM

Nice build, this looks like it will certainley hold plenty of stuff, and be perfect for a move.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View theoldfart's profile


11218 posts in 3126 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 11:31 PM

Thanks for the post on my version of the Schwartz chest. Is your move cross country? Thats what motivated me to do mine. Kids and grandkids on the left coast.

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

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 2905 days

#12 posted 10-16-2013 02:51 AM

I bought the DVD Chris put out recently on building the quicker version of the anarchist tool chest.
It was a great build and very practical. I have not painted it yet but you can check out the box itself here.
I still have to work on the trays a bit to get the right fit. I have plenty of tools in the box now
and It is great to have so many tools in one place.

I keep my key hand tools in my smaller fully dovetailed chest from set of plans I got from Taunton Press.
It is also on my projects page.
Have fun makin shavings or sawdust, whichever you prefer, or of course “hybrid”

-- "So many little time..." Psalm 23

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics