My Ridiculous Favorite ATC Touch

keeperI love everything about my new “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” It’s now easy for me to find just the tool I need in one quick grab…without having to dig through piles of stuff or check multiple boxes. And it’s but a few moments’ work to put stuff away at the end of the day (which I know neatnik Christopher Schwarz appreciates).

But what I like most is my most ridiculous aesthetic touch: the lid stay.  OOOOOooooo shiny!

It is a 2mm “light-duty twisted-link, tangle resistant, nickel-plated steel chain” from McMaster-Carr – not a wallet chain I stole off a hipster. It’s held in place on both ends by 8/32 female-threaded “pear knob cap finials” in polished nickel (from Grand Brass Lamp Parts). The finials are screwed on short lengths of 8/32 running thread that I hacksawed to length, then epoxied in place in pilot holes.


I also ordered knurled “battery head screws” from the lamp parts store, in case the finials looked weird. But they look just weird enough…which is to say perfect.




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Butt Hinge Installation

Here’s a pictorial how-to I promised to students in my “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” class – might as well post it publicly…so y’all can tell me I should have built a router template.


Start with the lid. Set your marking/cutting gauge to the thickness of the hinge plate, and mark the baseline. Then align the hinge where it goes, allowing the second plate to drop flush with the back edge of the top (that aligns the barrel properly). Knife in the edges.


Use a chisel to chop a series of cuts in the waste that are just shy of the baseline, then knock out the waste.


A router plane, set to the baseline depth, makes quick work of producing a clean, flat-bottomed mortise.


Drop the hinge in place.


Use a centerpunch to mark the screw-hole locations. (I love this tool!) Then drill pilot holes for the screws.


Drive the screws (clocking them if you’re anal-retentive).


Set the lid in place (checking the side-to-side alignment for equal overhang), then sneak in with a marking knife to mark the edge position of each hinge. From there, repeat the steps above.


Prop the chest (and lid, if necessary) on sticks to align them so that it’s easy to flip the hinge plate in position to insert the screws. Plane the top edges of the case as necessary for a perfect fit.

I know there are many ways to cut hinge mortises. But that’s how I do it.

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Bench Maintenance (Long Overdue)

cleanupIf you’ve ever asked me about my LVL bench, you’ve heard me praise the top – still dead flat, after 10 years! – and curse the base, because the LVL in the legs compressed from the pressure of the leg vise, which moved the top about 1/8″ off the leg.

This happened within a year of regular use, so it’s been a pain in my posterior for nine years. We’ve tried a few fixes in the past – a larger bolt to connect the top and legs at the front left position and a “bullet” inserted in the top of the leg and into the bottom of the top. Both of those “fixes” worked for a few weeks, but then it was back to the shim.

Today, Christopher Schwarz and I tried another fix. I planed and scraped the old, falling-apart suede off the chop face, then epoxied crubber (a composite of cork and rubber) on its face. We epoxied little bits of wood to the top of the legs to fill the void, then epoxied crubber over those, too.


I’m just glad we had 5-minute epoxy…because we didn’t have clamps with a deep enough reach to provide pressure at the bottom 3″ of crubber. So I checked my email while I stood there.


Now everything is back together, and I’ve a piece of walnut clamped tight in the vise to provide pressure while the epoxy fully sets. And it is clamped tight – neither Chris or I could pull it out.

Here’s hoping this “fix” lasts longer than a few weeks.


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More Tool Chest Storage Ideas


Anyone know where I can get a nice handle like his? Preferably in polished nickel? It’s basically a recessed pull like you’d find on a campaign chest, but with a place to put your fingers rather than a pull that lifts out. All the ones I’m seeing look kinda chintzy.

Someone on IG asked about storing backsaws in the lid of a tool chest, which immediately made me think of my grandfather’s chest – he had all his saws stored on the underside of the lid, which, like the “Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” has a raised-panel lid.

When I first started woodworking, I planned to someday have the skills to build a replica of his chest. I have built (more than once) what is pretty much the same carcase, but I changed my mind on the interior (for now, anyway).

I always admired his neatly organized trays of tools in four layers (some of the trays had their own trays, to boot!). They are about half as wide as the chest, and slide left and right to access the stuff underneath. But once I started actually working out of a tool chest, I realized it would be (to me) a bit of a pain to have to slide quite so many trays out of the way to get to stuff. (And a lot of pain to stay quite that organized.)


So instead, I’m going with three long trays (half the depth of the chest), and as I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, storing my backsaws behind the chisel rack (I worked on that today, so I’ll soon have a closer-to-finished interior to post). And in my new chest, I’m not storing full-sized handsaws/panel saws (though I’ve left enough space for that above the top till…just in case); I have only two that I’d want in my tool chest, and they will continue to live on the underside of my tool chest at home.

But my grandfather had five saws on his lid, held in place with toggles on keepers on the handle end, and supports on the business end of the long ones (plus a carpenter’s square). The dust seal on his lid is, however, deeper than what is on the ATC, to allow the handles to fit without crashing into the trays below. He built his as a high school project (a trade school where he learned cabinetmaking), so I’m reasonably certain this was the prescribed interior layout, or at least it was in Louisville in 1932.



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Tools & Chest for Sale at LAP Saturday


Maple till slides for my new ATC interior (you can see my final exterior paint job in the background).

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been putting finish on my new “Anarchist’s Tool Chest” for as many days as I spent making it. (Because I’m an idiot and didn’t test my topcoat, then had to strip it and repaint. Don’t be an idiot like me.) But I’m now (finally!) working on the interior, and will be transferring my tools from my old and smaller chest to the new one late Friday or early Saturday.

My old chest, which served me well for years at Popular Woodworking and more recently at Lost Art Press, has become too crowded now that I have the majority of my furniture-making kit at LAP instead of at home (plus doubles on some tools to loan to students). So the chest I’m finishing up now will replace my vintage one, and I’ll have it for sale this Saturday at the LAP open house (10 a.m.-5 p.m., 837 Willard St., Covington, Ky., 41011).

I bought the vintage chest (with one deep till and one shallow till) from Christopher Schwarz in 2007 or so, for $100 if I correctly recall, and I’m selling it for $80. The original owner’s stamp is on the front (but so is Chris’, and my name is on the interior – so it’s worth less now!), it has nice lifts, and I still have the key to the working lock. The great thing about this chest, unlike the ATC, is that it fits easily into the hatch or backseat of most cars.


You can see my vintage chest – the one for sale – in the background to the left.

I’ll also have some perfectly good but superfluous-to-me tools (all of which are at least gently used) for sale – I’d rather they be used than gather dust in my basement (and OK…because I need to buy a band saw). Mostly, these are things I bought for magazine tool tests and didn’t actually need, or tools I once used and loved but have since replaced with tools I love more (what can I say – I’m fickle). So far (and there might be more – I’m still digging), these include: 13 ounce round mallet from Blue Spruce Toolworks ($55) (I prefer my 16 ounce one…probably because it’s blue); Veritas Fast-Action Hold-Down ($50); Glen-Drake Tite-Hammer #4 – 14 ounces ($45 – this one is well used; I used it for four years or so while chopping dovetails); Lee Valley nail set (set of three) ($10); Lee Valley Cast Round Spokeshave (a close copy of the Preston 1374 ($45); Gramercy Gent’s Saw (price TBD); two (3/8″ and 1/2″) Blue Spruce paring chisels ($55 each); Veritas Low-Angle Smooth Plane ($130); Gramercy dovetail saw ($100 – this is also well-used, by Chris, then by me…and I confess that it needs sharpening). Cash or check only…and only on site – but if after Saturday there is anything remaining, I’ll post it here.

Oh – and Chris is trying to convince me to sell my Lie-Nielsen No. 4 (I usually use my no. 3). It’s possible I might cave. But that bronze No. 4 is the first good plane I bought, I bought it directly from Thomas Lie-Nielsen, and I am surprisingly sentimental about my tools. So it’s possible I won’t.


Note: It’s possible that Chris and Brendan Gaffney might also have a tool or two on offer.

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New Rabbit Hole: Folger British Book Illustrations

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From “Proteus ofte Minne-beelden verandert in Sinne-beelden door,” by Jacob Cats (1577-1660). The chair should look familiar to any Peter Follansbee followers.

I follow the Folger Shakespeare Library on social media primarily for the Shakespeare, but today on Instagram, the library announced its new project: British Book Illustrations, with more than 10,000 images, which are searchable by keywords, from early books.

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Birthing chair from “The expert midwife, or An excellent and most necessary treatise of the generation and birth of man. Wherein is contained many very notable and necessary particulars requisite to be knovvne and practised: with diuers apt and usefull figures appropriated to this worke. Also the causes, signes, and various cures, of the most principall maladies and infirmities incident to women. Six bookes compiled in Latine by the industry of Iames Rueff, a learned and expert chirurgion: and now translated into English for the generall good and benefit of this nation,” by Jakob Rüff (1500-1558).

So I’ve been tooling around for an hour now with such terms as “chair,” “table” and “house” (sadly, “workbenches” and “woodworking” bring up nothing).

This is a simply tremendous visual resource!

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Skep (and table on which to put it) from “Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum olim ab Edoardo Wottono, Conrado Gesnero, Thomaque Pennio inchoatum ; tandem Tho. Movfeti Londinâtis operâ sumptibusq´[ue] maximis concinnatum, auctum, perfectum ; et ad vivum expressis iconibus suprà quinge,” Thomas Moffet (1553-1604).

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‘Operations of Carpentry’


Having now mentioned the principal tools, and their application, it will here be proper to say something of the operations of Car­pentry, which may be considered under two general heads; one of individual pieces, the other the combination of two or more pieces. Individual pieces undergo various operations as sawing, planing, rebating, and grooving, or ploughing: the operation of the pit saw is so well known as hardly to need a description; planing, rebating, grooving, or ploughing, are more frequently employed in Joinery, and will be there fully described. The other general head may be sub-divided into two others, viz. that of joining one piece of timber to another, in order to make one, two, or four angles, the other that of fastening two or more pieces together, in order to form one piece, which could not be got sufficiently large or long in a single piece; there are two methods of joining pieces at an angle, one by notching, the other by mortise and tenon…

Fig. 1 the manner of cocking tie beams with the wall plates fitted together. See § 25.
Fig. 2 shows the manner by which the cocking joint is fitted together, No. 1 part of the end of the tie beam, with the notch to receive the part between the notches in No. 2, which is a part of the wall plate. See § 25.
Fig. 3 dove-tail cocking; No. 1 the male or exterior dove-tail cut out on the end of the tie beam: No. 2 the female or interior dove-tail cut out of the wall plate, to receive the male dove-tail. See § 24.
Fig. 4 the manner of joining two pieces together to form a right angle, so that each piece will only be extended on one side of the other, by halving the pieces together, or taking a notch out of each, half the thickness. See § 26.
Fig. 5 two pieces joined together, forming four right angles, when one piece only exceeds the breadth of the other by a very short distance: No. 2 the socket of one piece, which receives the neck or substance of the other. This and the preceding are both employed in joining wall plates at the angle; but the latter is pre­ferable, when the thickness of walls will admit of it.
Fig. 6 the method of fixing angle tics: No. 1 part of angle tie, with part of the wall plate: No. 2 the wall plate, showing the socket or female dove-tail. Though the angle tie is here shown flush with the wall, in order to show the manner of connecting the two pieces together; the angle tie is seldom, or never let down flush, as this would not only weaken the angle tie, but also the plate into which it is framed. See § 27.

MCOnlineCoverExcerpted from “The Mechanic’s Companion,” by Peter Nicholson.

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