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The Anarchist's Toolchest

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Benchwayze

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I finally gave in, and bought a copy of Chris Schwartz's book, 'The Anarchist's Tool Chest'. (Incidentally, I was under the impression it was a 'coffee-table' format book, but mine is ‘novel size’. So maybe the photographs I've seen of it are misleading. )

It's making interesting reading though, and there’s a lot of sense in it.

I might raise the tool-chest subject itself in another thread, because interesting as these chests are, I'm not sure a shop-bound amateur really needs one; except maybe for the pure enjoyment of making it. (More later?)

Chris Schwartz raises other points. In particular his philosophy on Plywood. He believes plywood is lacking in quality these days, (I agree) and is considering banishing the stuff from his shop. Chris Schwartz champions pine for his tool-chest, (And if you're going to paint your tool-chest, why worry about it? ) So using softwood throughout, would make sense traditionally, and practically. Hmmm…. Maybe he has something?

I had to think about his idea of banishing plywood. Although there do seem to be a lot of voids, and surface defects; even in some of the more expensive plywoods, would solid timber be just a bit too expensive? So I did a bit of 'calculizing' (That's an invented word Webster’s can adopt if they wish. I shan't mind!)

The price of redwood floorboard for instance. Locally to me, (per square metre) it pans out only a little more than weather-proof ply; yet it's below the price of 'quality' Birch Ply. To put it another way, if I put floorboards down in my shop, it's going to add only about £30.00 to the bill. Considering the ease with which I could replace a broken board, compared to a 4 x 2 section of plywood, I think that's pretty good. It's easier to handle too. And it would give me chance to use the floorboard cramps I've had lying around for yonks!

To make wider panels, floorboard could be acclimatised, and then glued together, to make chests, and so on. A pine wardrobe made from floorboards, (Or more likely jointed redwood) is still less expensive than one made with those laminated pine sheets. Plus, it can be as thick or slender, as I wish, and it can be cleaned up with a plane, without so much worry about grain direction, the bane of laminated pine sheets. So, to put a base into the new stand for my Triton work-centre, I might as well use floor board, as opposed to sheet material.

Hardwood is expensive, so as home woodworkers, we tend to use sheet material and veneer for large panels. But even with hardwood, does the price rise as much as we might think, if we use solid wood, where we can, on smaller projects?

I am still going to need some sheet materials of course, as solid wood is a bit OTT for making kitchen cupboards, and utility drawer bottoms. And I might want to make a walnut wardrobe, for which I'd give in, and use veneered board. But the less I have to mess with large, sheet stuff in my shop the better.

I don't think I shall be disposing of my Track-saw just yet though. At least, not until I have saved up for a nice old Wadkin 12 inch tilt-arbor saw. :D

Any observations on my ramblings?
 

fuster

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If you're not charging for your time then maybe. Otherwise the cost of materials is not really much of an
issue, but the time needed to work with those materials.
 

Benchwayze

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Agreed Fuster.

But I don't rely on woodworking to pay the bills any more.
The biggest problem I see, is getting quality pine in the UK.
Schwartz talks about 18" to 21" wide, heart pine boards and various species such as Eastern White. Over here we rely mostly on imported stuff.

I don't use B&Q, and if I want the 'special' pines like SYP, Pitch-Pine, etc, etc, I have to use Sykes. (My nearest reasonably priced supplier.)
Otherwise I have to pick carefully through the stuff on offer in the local redwood pile, looking for boards that are as close to quarter-sawn as I can get. It takes a bit of time, but it pays off. :)
 

AndyT

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Interesting observations there. I agree that the Americans do seem to have the advantage of quality native timbers readily available, despite their nineteenth century efforts to strip thousands of acres of them into their steam powered sawmills.

Maybe the answer for hobby work is to go beyond the usual merchants and seek out smaller mills processing local timber. When I made an oak chair for the garden, I bought the wood from the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum - who sell whatever needs to be trimmed or removed for very reasonable prices.

And flooring isn't only pine these days - some of the solid oak on offer must be good enough for furniture, provided it's not grooved on the back.
 

Richard T

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You know what it's like over there in Chris Shwartz land John - huge yellow pines and black Walnut strewn about from the latest storms ... if he had to write the same book over here he's prob'ly end up The Wood Masochist.
 

Benchwayze

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For sure Andy, I wouldn't buy hardwood from my local sawmill (Great Barr Sawmills). They do stock good stuff, but they really do go OTT for pricing. In fact they get their supplies from Sykes too, at times. Obviously much more than I would buy in a lifetime, but I always feel I've had a good deal from Sykes; free delivery too and it must be 25 miles away. Which is more than I can say for GBS, who are just a mile down the road; but they offer a free cutting service on anything you buy and take away! Swings and roundabouts of course. :)
 

jimi43

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I just get reclaimed timber...flooring especially. If you're worried about nails etc...I find that most is long enough to get the stock from between or just be careful...fill in the holes with dark filler and it just ends up looking like knots if your'e clever about placement and selection.

It's certainly dry...often very thick...and all shakes and splits have happened long ago.

I have some lovely old thin pine that was removed from a dresser many moons back...all banded up and ready for that special project. I used some to restore an old tool chest back that was rotten and it was a dream to use.

I am still pondering my tool storage even now....the chest idea seems great if you want to study the subject and the history but is it really the best for today? I love engineer's toolboxes but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that they are only any good for little things in the woodworker's world.

I adore old ironmonger's storage racks..like a larger version of the engineer's toolbox or the old chemist chests...

I even went down the road of an adapted Welsh dresser once....and still thinking that way...

It's certainly a great subject...and there is no perfect answer as everyone's needs are different.

Jim
 

Benchwayze

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Richard T":3la9br78 said:
You know what it's like over there in Chris Shwartz land John - huge yellow pines and black Walnut strewn about from the latest storms ... if he had to write the same book over here he's prob'ly end up The Wood Masochist.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
 

Benchwayze

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jimi43":3fkj8eap said:
I just get reclaimed timber...flooring especially. If you're worried about nails etc...I find that most is long enough to get the stock from between or just be careful...fill in the holes with dark filler and it just ends up looking like knots if your'e clever about placement and selection.

It's certainly dry...often very thick...and all shakes and splits have happened long ago.

I have some lovely old thin pine that was removed from a dresser many moons back...all banded up and ready for that special project. I used some to restore an old tool chest back that was rotten and it was a dream to use.

I am still pondering my tool storage even now....the chest idea seems great if you want to study the subject and the history but is it really the best for today? I love engineer's toolboxes but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that they are only any good for little things in the woodworker's world.

I adore old ironmonger's storage racks..like a larger version of the engineer's toolbox or the old chemist chests...

I even went down the road of an adapted Welsh dresser once....and still thinking that way...

It's certainly a great subject...and there is no perfect answer as everyone's needs are different.

Jim
I do my share of recycling timber Jim and I am loathe to throw anything out.
However, I did manage to get the last of a stock of Parana Pine, from a yard though. Two eight footers of 12 x 1 and two of 12 x 2 . Just enough for a 'Long-John' Hay-rake occasional table. But I can't bring myself to eke into it!

I would like to set myself the task of all the dovetails in a tool-chest. I suppose I could use that Parana Pine, but again, don't want to paint Parana Pine. If I did make one of thee chests, the shop tool racks would look bare. Also my shop is so small, the chest would take up a significant amount of floor space.

As for the chest itself, I believe it was something an apprentice made, (in his own time) against the day when he became a Journeyman. Having made the chest, he had something in which to transport his tools, when he got his marching orders!

I supopose with a large workshop, the chest does supply a decent place to keep tools, in dry and safe conditions, but if you don't travel, then something lighter, and on the wall is better.

I still have one of those a 'Tradesman's' Tool-chests, with a drop down front, sculling around in the loft, but as I don't go out to people's homes fitting stuff anymore, I now put my tools on the wall, or in drawers in the shop. Hence questioning my actual need for a tradirional tool-chest.
Still, it is a real temptation to make one for the sheer joy of doing so. (hammer)

Hope you see where I am coming from Jim.


Regards John :)
 

AndyT

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I know just what you mean John. Maybe what you need is a large pine box to use indoors - with spare bedding or out of season clothes stored in it - like people who don't understand the importance of woodwork tools might buy a nice old wooden box and re-use it.

I'd love to make one too, but not only do we lack anywhere in the house where one might fit, I already have an old-ish wooden tool box which gets in the way in my workshop, where it works as a handy horizontal surface to dump stuff on.
 

Benchwayze

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AndyT":3t90m6jk said:
I know just what you mean John. Maybe what you need is a large pine box to use indoors - with spare bedding....
You mean the thing I call a bed? :lol:

I'll put off the pine box for a while, If you see what I mean! :D :D
 

Cheshirechappie

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I built a toolchest about 10 years BS (Before Schwarz), and oddly enough I made mine from 4" redwood floorboards (lots of edge jointing) because they were of better quality than the regular PAR on offer in the timer merchant I bought them from. Making it wasn't a quick job, but it was a very satisfying project, and I've had quite admiring comments from people who have seen it, which is good for morale.

One big mistake I made was in fitting it out. Trying to use all the space, I made four lift-out trays that filled the entire space above the bottom ten inches, right from the back of the chest to the chisel rack at the front. Don't do it - a tray full of bench planes is seriously heavy, and finding somewhere to put it down while you extract a tool from a lower level is also a disadvantage. Consequently, I'm now refitting the inside along Schwarz lines, with the three sliding trays; but I'm keeping the chisel rack at the front because it protects the chisel edges nicely (and protects me from them!) and keeps them readily accessible.

If you're a handtool only chap, which I am, then it's a very practical way to store tools. It'll swallow a surprisingly large kit of them. For the predominantly power tool man, I think it makes less sense - you can store the handtools you need on a toolwall or rack, with lockable doors if needs be, and free up floorspace. If you have machines, then space in the shop will probably be at a premium. If you don't, then you need space for a bench and toolchest, enough to set up a couple of sawhorses and stand the latest job, and that's all.
 
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