Hand Tool Ramblings #3: The Anarchists Bug Out Box

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by rustythebailiff posted 12-24-2013 04:55 AM 1795 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Getting Moxon-ated Part 3 of Hand Tool Ramblings series Part 4: Hide glue and fresh baked cookies, a week at the Woodwright’s School »

Living here in sunny FLA, we don’t have to worry about ice and snow. But, we do get the occasional tornado. And hurricanes are not unheard of. So, as my hand tool collection has grown over the years, it suddenly occurred to me that if I had to flee from impending natural disaster, it would take me a good hour to gather up my precious hand tools.

Now, not to downplay the importance of my power tools, but they are easier to replace than some of my vintage hand tools. So, after watching Chris Schwarz’s videos many times, and reading all the articles, and perusing the various chests made by fellow Lumber Jocks, I came up with a box that should not only hold my current and future tools collection, but it should be portable enough.

I chose a traditional English design, aka Anarchist’s Chest, rather than the Dutch box. Though the choice was certainly tough (all those dovetails!). The size precluded using a single width of surfaced lumber from Home Depot. Eleven and a half wide wasn’t enough. And, since we have a cypress saw mill locally, I decided to try our locally grown lumber. I purchased a stack of rough cut 4/4 by ten boards at the incredibly low price of $7 for a ten footer! Looking back, I should have added the 30% for select boards to eliminate many of the knots which vexed me a bit. But, the wood was stacked in my man cave in the air conditioning to sit and dry for a few weeks as they had been out in the yard without covering.

After three weeks, the boards were down to about 13% moisture content, which seemed satisfactory. I hand planed one side of a board flat, then jointed one edge. I finished it up in the surface planer and table saw. What I got was a very clean, smooth, board with not a bad grain pattern. So, in the following weeks I finished milling up the remaining boards. I chose the best boards for the chest sides, gluing up the front, back, and side panels. The rest ended up going to other projects.

Then, the fun began. I started cutting the first of 40 tails and pins for the joints.

Working a bit at a time over several weeks, I finally sawed and chopped out the dovetails. Most are a bit rough, gradually improving as I went along. Next was the dry assembly, to test the fit.

Everything fit well, so it was time for glue up. Lots of clamps and it went together smoothly, coming out nice and square. And, the cats loved it

Next, the bottom. I chose some clear 6” pine, and using my recently aquired tongue and groove planes, T&G’d the bottom boards for a nice fit to allow expansion. After trimming, I nailed them in place with 4d cut nails from Tremont Nail Company. They should hold tight, without the need for glue.

In progress are the molding strips along the bottom and top. The bottom will add strength and raise the box off the floor. The top strip will add strength and along with the lid will keep dust out. The pieces are dovetailed reverse from the box carcase, changing the direction of the strength of the joint. I plan to insert screws from the inside to make sure the trim is nice and tight.

More to follow…

-- "Necessity is the mother of invention"

4 comments so far

View Woodknack's profile


13504 posts in 3267 days

#1 posted 12-24-2013 06:04 AM

Great looking tool chest so far. I like handtools and use them but I don’t know that I’d want to cut that many dovetails by hand.

-- Rick M,

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4221 days

#2 posted 12-24-2013 09:51 AM

Nice progress and I can relate to the fun of doing it with hand tools. If you ever have to evacuate you will now have a quick way to take your hand tools with. Don’t forget the wife!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View theoldfart's profile


12066 posts in 3338 days

#3 posted 12-24-2013 06:21 PM

Stefang, these chests aren’t exactly portable when full, as you can see from mine

It takes two people to lift it. However I can move it out of my way quite easily.
Rusty it looks fantastic, good DT’ing as well as the T&G’s. Looking forward to the completed product. Just a bit of unsolicited advice, don’t make all the fixtures in the box permanent. You WILL rethink things as you use the chest, I’ve already redone the saw till and bottom plane storage.

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

View rustythebailiff's profile


99 posts in 2828 days

#4 posted 12-24-2013 11:09 PM

Thanks much, the dovetails were a challenge. They improved with each set I did. A couple more chests like this and they’ll be perfect! Stefang, can’t forget the wife, I need her to lift the other side! Great idea on the tills and totes oldfart, I do tend to change projects in mid stream. I will probably attach them with screws until I am comfortable with the layout. Love your tool chest, though I don’t have as much iron as you…someday maybe

-- "Necessity is the mother of invention"

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