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Thread: Finished my Anarchist's Tool Chest

  1. #1

    Finished my Anarchist's Tool Chest

    I finished my ATC, which was mostly by the book. Well, the book, updates on the LAP blog, and Megan's excellent videos on finishing the interior.

    The case, floor boards, and lid are basswood. The sliding till bottoms, runners, and stops are hard maple. The till sides, tool racks, saw till, and moulding plane corral are black walnut. The exterior is General Finishes' "Coastal Blue" milk paint in a can (actually acrylic). The interior of the case and lid are shellacked. Everything else, including the paint, is finished with homemade soft wax following the LAP recipe (beeswax, raw linseed, limonene).

    I haven't weighed it empty yet, and I didn't do a great job of tracking the cost. The hinges and lifts together were about $350 shipped. The crab lock and key were about $160. The basswood, including extra to remake the lid frame was about $300. The maple and walnut came in in drips and drabs, and was probably something like $500 altogether.

    I made ample use of my jointer, planer, bandsaw, and table saw for dimensioning. I used my jigsaw to break down some of the larger lumber, and my drill press for the tool rack holes. I used my cordless drill for the bulk of the rest of the holes. All of the joinery is with hand tools. I planed surfaces everywhere I could, but still used plenty of sandpaper.

    Variations from the current LAP approach:
    • I did through-mortises on the lid frame -- this is actually what the book calls for, but the updated directions on the website use a Domino or half-laps. No doubt those are plenty strong, but the through mortises were fun and you can see them on the back of the lid.
    • I went with 11 dovetails per case corner. The book calls for 13, but the updated directions call for seven. I just experimented with the layout and liked 11.
    • I used regular basswood for the floor boards rather than the pine "car siding" they use now. Time wasn't a factor, so no reason not to make my own T&G boards.
    • Rather than pin nailing and/or gluing the interior bits, I used brass screws for everything. I wanted to be sure everything was removable in case a descendent turns it into a blanket chest, and I like the look of the screws. I still might blacken them.
    • I used the "Reforged" blacksmith-made hinges and lifts from Horton Brasses, but I left off the ring pulls for the sliding tills. I absolutely love how they look, but figured I'll be pulling these with one hand in practice, plus don't want pulls banging into anything. Instead, I cut half-circle pulls in the till fronts. So far, so good, just don't store your bare razor blades there.
    • I added stops to the runners of the top two sliding tills. The hanging tool rack body itself is a stop for the bottom one. Just trying to protect my chisel handles from my clumsiness.
    • I did not add casters. I don't plan on moving this around the shop much and, when I do, the beveled oak rot strips on the bottom let it slide well enough. I left space on the bottom to add casters if I decide I want them later.
    • I realized when it was time to build the moulding corral that I was at 92 dovetails for the project, so I dovetailed its corners to bring me up to an even 100. Silly, but I actually like it.
    • I added vertical supports for the lower sliding till runner to the rear of the moulding corral. They half-lap into the moulding corral sides and butt up against the runners. The runners are supported at the front by the saw till. Probably overkill, but I wanted more than just screws holding the weight of the sliding tills and their contents.

    There's not too much I'd do differently a second time. I didn't appreciate how much the paint was going to hide the dovetails, so I'd either care less about how many I had, or maybe leave them very slightly proud. I definitely didn't need to be as precious about the whole thing, but that's more a factor of my current skill level. Doing my very best on something like this helps me learn without dire consequences for mistakes.

    As far as using it, time will tell. I'm not 100% sold on working full time out of a chest, but we're moving twice in the next couple years, so it seems practical in the short term at least. The bench planes just going in the bottom is already bothering me, so I may put in some kind of dividers for them. The dividers in the top sliding till and moulding plane corral are just friction fit to test out. I think a little bit of division will help keep things organized, e.g. a slot for pens and pencils will probably always make sense. But I don't want to over-define it and lose flexibility down the road.

    Thanks for looking. Let me know if you want to see any other construction photos.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    SE South Dakota
    NICE work! I couldn't begin to lift it when full (70+yo).
    I would have to put it on wheel's to show it off. it off I would!!
    Epilog TT 35W, 2 LMI SE225CV's
    CorelDraw 4 through 11
    paper and pencils

  3. #3
    Thanks, Bruce. I for sure can't lift it up either. But I was able to drag it without much trouble. It's not as full as it will be, but it doesn't seem like that will make a huge difference. One funny thing on moving it is that the tool storage is not conducive at all to rough handling. Never mind a horse and buggy on dirt roads, when I move this in a modern truck, I won't be comfortable with the planes sliding around or the chisels and saws bouncing about.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2023
    Gorgeous work. Very impressive!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Great job building this
    Old Codger
    In it for fun

  6. #6
    Really nice work! Something to be proud of!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

    “If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    N of DFW
    Awesomeness !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Eagle, WI
    Well done! I hope to build an ATC soon. Thanks for the photos and inspiration.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    Looks great..
    BTW..I have seen the Original one..
    Road Trip, The A Chest.JPG
    And talked to it's owner...
    Road Trip, C. Schwarz at work.JPG
    last fall's Open House..
    Road Trip, Lost Art Press building.JPG
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

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