Chris Schwarz's Blog

Coming: The Anarchist’s Tool Chest DVD


More than five years ago I built myself a full-size 18th-century style tool chest to replace the beat up blue one I’d been using since 1997 or so. That new chest was the subject of the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” and I didn’t think a single person in the world would build it.

Why? The book is more about limiting your tool set to basic high-quality tools. The chest was supposed to be a literary device – the conceit that holds all the tools you need and no more.

To my surprise hundreds (maybe thousands?) have built the chest. I’ve taught classes on building it about 20 times on three continents.

But I resisted producing a DVD on the dovetailed chest because it would be a massive undertaking. It’s a crap-ton of dovetails and precision handwork. And doing it all in front of a crew of cameras during a short period seemed like a nutty idea.

And that’s what we are doing starting Monday morning.


I’m scrambling to process all the stock in stages so the shooting goes as quickly as possible. Luckily, after building at least 20 of these, I have the cutting list memorized.

The DVD will start with dovetailing – we’re assuming you can make a board flat and cut it to size. Everything from there will be covered in pretty good detail:

  • Cutting accurate through-dovetails
  • Planing assembled carcases
  • Fitting dovetailed skirts around a carcase
  • Making a tongue-and-groove bottom
  • Using traditional nails
  • Building a strong frame-and-panel lid with a dovetailed dust seal
  • Making dovetails sliding trays and rack for tools

I don’t have a release date on the DVD, but the people at Popular Woodworking are very speedy. It usually only takes two or three months to get the thing to market.

So stay tuned. If you want to follow along during the build, I’ll be posting photos of the process to my Instagram account using the hashtag #ATC.

— Christopher Schwarz

If you aren’t ready for a dovetailed full-bore tool chest, check out this DVD on building a similar tool chest with plywood and screws.

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