Building The Anarchist's Tool Chest Part 1

hi everybody welcome back to the shop as you can see here I got a pretty big box sitting on top of my bench and this is actually my new tool chest it is from the pages of the anarchist tool chest written by Christopher Soares this books about a year old now if you haven't read this and you're into hand tools or into woodworking in general I highly recommend it it's probably one of the best books written in the past decade on hand tools especially for a beginner there's a lot of information in this books about what tools you need what to look for and what not but in the back section of the book he talks about building the tool chest goes through step-by-step procedures historical facts about tool chest and etc so I recommend you go get the book but what I've got here is is my carcass we got 13 duck tails per corner through dovetails hand cut the chest is 40 inches wide 24 by 24 inches and it is made out of one-inch thick Doug Fir this is old-growth Doug Fir super tight grain quarter sawn wood it's sixty plus years old from when it was cut so it's very stable nothing close to what you're ever going to find it a home center if you can't get something like this and really I could have used different woods but I had some of this stuff laying around so I built it out of that because it's free another what I'm using in this project is sugar pine if I had enough sugar pine with me I would have built the whole thing out of sugar pine and maybe one day I will do that but right now I did a blog post on this tool chest already as far as like cutting the dovetails I didn't really want to cover that in the video because there's billions of videos out there about cutting dovetails but one thing to note is that in the book Chris talks about cutting a eighth inch rabbit or sixteenth rabbit I can't remember out deep it is on the inside of your tail boards so that you it helps you register the board when you're transferring your your tails onto your pin board so that everything matches up this is the first time I've ever done that and it worked really well and it really helped the project square up and come together tight when I did the glue up so that's done and next step I've got a bunch of roughs on sugar pine here then I need to cut the length and we're going to tongue-and-groove it and nail it to the bottom so now I have all my boards Mills for the bottom and I've actually got them laying here and I've already gone through the process of putting in the tongues of the grooves on the on each piece now basically what I have here is a 1/4 inch wide tongue and a quarter inch wide groove it's roughly a third of the thickness of the of the board that's what I went off of and they're about a half an inch long so they're a little longer than they probably need to be but hey it's alright so i basically reached the step of nailing this thing down you could screw them down that is probably really no harm in that this day and age but I'm going to nail mine down I'm going to be using some some cut nails these are pretty much the same cut nails that Chris uses in the book it's just a common cut nail six penny nail they're about two inches long the real neat thing about cut nails is that they wedge the board in verses wire nails which just kind of hold in place but as the wood expands it tracks it's a lot easier for wire nail to fall out so I'm going to use a traditional cut now now before I went through the process of actually putting the tongue tongue and grooves on all these boards I haven't laid up on my bench I put them in the positions I wanted so that from the look down the bottom of the of the box would look nice so right now you're actually and the bad sides of the boards so what we need to do is start at this Inn and we'll just start pulling them off laying them up because what we want to do is just kneel one board on at a time now something you also want to pay attention to is you want to have a little bit of overhang on the front and back and the sides of your case that way after you've nailed all your boards down you can come back with a hand plane and clean these up so they perfectly lay flush with the outside of your case any gaps in this is going to affect the way the apron goes on the bottom so you want to make sure you get these right um next we want to drill pilot holes now a rule of thumb that I follow with cut nails that seem to work pretty well for me is if you hold the point out and you hold the back end of a drill bit as long as they're round they don't have those weird notches and I'm just the round part I shoot for a drill bit that's about the same size as this small square end of the the leading edge of the the nail that's about a good size to go with because they are wedge-shaped all you're really doing is giving a fair amount of room for the first part of the nail in the top board and the top then the top of the nail is so wide that it's going to wedge it no matter what you do pretty much unless you drill a huge hole but the other thing is – I'll hold this board down and I'll drill into it but I'm really only shooting to drill through the pine the Doug Fir is is thick enough and strong enough that I'm not really worried about it so I'm just going to load this bit up here and we can start nailing things down now if you've never used cut nails there is a method to it today you want to be very conscious of cut nails are a wedge shape in one direction from the side they're wedge shape from the other direction they're straight up and down now if you take the wedge direction like this if you place it into the board so that it's pulling the green apart that's exactly what you're going to do your top board you're going to split it if you place it so that the wedge is going with the grain you won't you will not split your board it's actually pretty difficult to split it and if you do split it that usually means that you're using way too big of a nail so we'll drive it personally the next step that we're going to repeat down the line here is placing each board on here try to keep them somewhat flush that just makes the hand planing a little bit easier but for spacing I don't know where they'll in it for spacing Chris Soares and I've heard other people talk about this is use something like a dying thickness so if you put a dime on each side of the board and pinch them together so that they're holding them in there that's about the spacing you want well that's pretty much it just keep moving all the way across and then we'll talk about attaching the battens on the ends which you can do before or after you shave the edges down alright so now I've got my box on the side and I'm ready to plane the edges of these pine boards the first thing we want to do we want to do the in grain first before we do the laundry on the sides and I'm going to start with a block plane and just double the corner of this pretty close to all the way down that's just to prevent any blowout if you're playing it on the edge grain with a big point like this number seven which I recommend you use something biggest one you got for this it's very easy to just tear such a weak board as this pine apart next thing is start with a nice heavy plane nice sharp blade and find all your high spots pretty much on this one this is the lowest board so what I'm going to do first is platanus out tilts down to this board as much as possible and then start working my way and see it's not so bad once you've got it close to even across what I do or what I did on the other side as I started at this end and work my way back and worked it down to edge that way I could take shorter strokes which makes a little bit easier a little bit more work to do here but as soon as I get this done I'm going to do the ins will flip it over and work on the event nothing like a little handful in all right now we're ready to put our battens on the battens serve kind of a couple different purposes one they're going to be the lowest thing to the ground so if potentially the tool chest is sorted an area where water may occur or something else like that's the first thing that's going to have contact it's the first thing that's going to rot it will be the easiest thing to remove and replace it does the second thing it does is that they support the bottom it just makes the bottom a little bit stronger and a little bit more stable and the third thing which whether it's the most important or not is that the Castor's that I have are going to go on the four corners of this so I can move it around the shop easily and this just gives it a better surface to ride on and because they're going to be screwed into this if something too may occur where the wheel gets hung up on something really bad and it happens to rip off it's only going to tear out of this bat and it's not going to tear a hole in the bottom of my tool chest so just like we did before there just a hair longer the bottom of all of them have already been pre-cut they're right close so we want it to just make sure we're hanging over a little bit and same process as before we're just going to drill a hole and driver nails and I'm actually using the same size nail this nail will actually go just about all the way through and into the bottom of the tool chest so it's it is pretty long it's long enough for this job something I'm doing that is a little bit different than Chris's original design is on Chris's design he had a batten directly in the middle now that won't work for me I kind of I cut all these pieces out of sugar pine beam so I was left with whatever I was left with as far as width so it matched up kind of perfect to have the seam in the middle so I've got two smaller battens and I'm just going to nail them in the center of these two panels just so that the center does have some extra support and that's just that's just what I got so that's what I'm doing alright so as soon as I finished nailing these down I'll attach my casters and we'll be able to flip this baby over and roll it around a little bit okay well so I kind of jumped the gun a little bit on putting the casters on the bottom I got a couple more steps we have to do before we want to attach some wheels on here first thing we want to do is attach our molding or lower skirt or whatever to the bottom of our case here now this is pretty much a you know a three step measuring process I guess you could say first we want to start with one of our end boards and you just want to put it on here take your marking knife and Mark your edge I've already kind of done this I'm going to mark our baseline that's going to be the baseline of our dovetails once we get this one done and cut to size we'll start talking about the the front and the back pieces and then we'll do the other side of the lower and each process each piece of this puzzle here is a little little different than you would think you don't really want to use a measuring tape because chances are your case isn't going to be perfect and so you want to really make this custom fit for your case and the only way to do that is to put the board directly on the surface and mark it out so now that I've got my baselines marked I can remove this forward and I'll take it over to the bench and now continuous baseline all the way around and I'm also going to mark up another line that's just going to be a hair longer than I need the tails to be and I'll recut the ends of this board so it's exactly the length that I need it to be and then we'll start doing some dovetails forgot to mention one thing about doing these moldings well a couple things really this is I'm doing a six inch molding on the bottom of this and to keep everything where it needs to be I'm also orientating it on the outside of the board I put an L for the left and the same orientation I drew I drew an L down here on the case that way I know that this is where this piece goes just in case there's any bit of taper or anything funky about the case I know that this corner of this corner are going to be matched up perfectly when I put it back down and this goes for each each piece when you make your front in your back of the skirt make sure you label those and label the case so that they go on the right right places all right we're almost done with our slower skirt here and what I've got here is this is the other side of the chest I've got on the floor below I've got one of these boards dovetail into my two side boards and now we're going to custom fit this so it wraps all the way around I've already laid this board down on the end here without without these in place and scribe my line so I just want to bring it up to these and line it up and now what we're going to do is cut it is get everything cut to length obviously these are way too long and that was done on purpose they need to be somewhat long and I'm just going to take a pencil you could use a marking knife but I'm just going to take a pencil and put a mark here on each side and that tells me how how long it needs to be then I'm going to put a lot light on the ends of this board telling me how long that board needs to be and now after we cut our tails and our pins and our boards this should this wrap around molding or skirt should fit perfectly to this case now one of the key elements here is if you can see this I've got a clamp on the top of this holding these two boards tight that way all of my measurements are exactly correct and we will get a tight fit I notice on my case there are little you know nuances here and there are little things that are off just a little bit's not anything that you can you can see but it's enough that when you're cutting this type of joinery to wrap molding around if you don't you know get out all the voids and don't you know don't allow any gaps in here because if you do it's going to exaggerate everything and you'll end up with a really loose molding and that that would not be good because you pretty much will have to start over or do a lot of tweaking on these joints to get everything to fit tight so now that I get everything marked I can cut all these boards and cut the tails and pins and then we'll install this skirt on the bottom you you you you you you you so here we are finished project or at least so far we've got the the main part of the case done the only things I really didn't film didn't really go over I didn't film going over the top of this apron the top apron because it's the same process as a lower apron I didn't talk about there's a bevel that goes on the top of this apron a bevel that goes on the bottom of the apron you know that's personal preference you can route something nice you know oh gee or something like that edge if you want to do whatever you want you know it's really up to whoever film it and the other thing that's kind of important is to have something on the top apron here Christel worst talked about doing a bead I ended up doing a bead because I have a beading plane it's just really easy to do so I need a quarter inch bead all the way around the top which does a couple things for you one when the top gets put on here it's going to be nice and square and it's going to be level two or you know flat to the front so to get your fingers in there without a bead is you know nearly impossible I guess you could chamfer the edge but you know it's just a little bit easier to have like a nice looking bead on the side the other thing it does is you know once you've built the top and you finish it up and you try to get it Custom Fit as best you can you know things will change over time and there may be some small variations in the way the lid sits and the beaded edge really helps hide any small errors that you might have made or you know just seasonal you know movement with the top it's just a really good good way to kind of hide don't hide those things especially once it's painted if you paint your your tool chest a dark color it's gonna it's going to make it harder to see any little errors like that so you know I encourage if you're into you know if you want to go over in these tool chests and you're looking at something like this going I don't know it's you know there's a lot of dovetails and I'm not that good DuckTales right now or whatever I say go ahead and do it you know there's like just over 70 dovetails just in this box which sounds like a lot and it's a decent amount and I guess it depends on how you do the corners I have 13 13 down the corner of each side one in the corner of the top paper and three on the corners of the bottom apron so you know it's a lot of dovetailing it's through thicker stock than you're normally used to but if you can pull this off even close to where it needs to be you're going to you're going to learn a lot about dovetailing just doing this project the neat thing too is that this is getting painted and it's going to have several coats of paint on it so you're never going to see these dovetails they're simply functional so if you do have gaps and you need to fill them with a wedge or wood filler or you know some other you know trick and there's a trick and I did it on a couple of mine where you know if there was a gap you know after the glue sets up and everything you take some more glue you put a little bit of glue on there let it sit for you know 5 10 minutes closer to 10 minutes where it's really kind of congeal and then you hit it with a power sander and it actually really quickly mixes up almost like a putty a wood putty and it matches very quickly and smooths out real nice in there and you really can see it and I think it's probably one of the best options for something like this but again it's going to be painted so you're never going to see any of that stuff so don't be intimidated by a project like this if you want to build the tool chest go out and just start building it and you know with that said you don't even need a dovetail saw I mean if you if you've got if you've got an old you know crosscut tenon saw just a normal size like 14 12 inch or whatever you got like this you know this is you know you can use this this will work just fine you know don't think you gotta go out and buy go on by a special dovetail saw to make a carcass like this just you know use a normal tense off for that matter you know you're going to be totally fine so until next time go out in the shop build something when we come back I'll be doing the lid to this tool chest and then we'll probably be painting it before I even get to putting in the guts so I'll see you next time later you

  1. Bill, when discussing splitting the board with the cut nails… you're going with the grain on the pine board, but across the grain on the doug fir you're nailing into below… why does the doug fir not split?

  2. I agree 110% with the "just jump in and do it" attitude even if you think the project is too hard. I am building a workbench at the moment that was a little over my head. So, I am making a few mistakes and have to fix them. The bench still looks great and will be quite functional when finished. PLUS I am learning more by doing the build than by reading books or just practicing using hand tools on scrap wood. You have to make serious projects to make serious progress with your hand tool skills!!!

  3. Well done. One question: for sizing the base, you mentioned making the tail board "just a hair longer" for sizing. Are you doing the same for the pin board of the base? Thanks.

  4. I'm enjoying your project videos, cool stuff.  Toolchest like this are not for me, but they look cool.  I might just build one to use as a coffee table. 

  5. nice videos. appreciate all the effort u put into doing these.

    i like that u dont use powertools and sanders and such that cover everything with fine dust. just basic handtools! thats nice.

    was wondering, now that u had that new workbench for several months. is there anything about it u would have changed…any regrets at all, or did it turn out exactly as u wanted?

    cheers 😉

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