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anarchist's tool chest

My English tool chest is darn-near full up on saws (and adjustable squares, and hammers, and wax, and…).

Christopher Schwarz has taught me many things over the 16 years I’ve worked closely with him, but two lessons just won’t stick. I will never learn to love late 19th/early 20th-century Russian literature, and I will likely continue to own more tools than I truly need.

In no category is this more apparent than saws. I own four dovetail saws, three carcase saws, two tenon saws; only two panel saws (one crosscut, one rip) and two full-sized hand saws…that belonged to my grandfather but are too long for me to use (I tag the floor with them on every stroke unless I’m careful…and I can never remember to be careful for more than a couple strokes). Also a coping saw, a fret saw, a keyhole saw, a couple flush-cut saws….

elevation drawing mike siemsen plane and saw tillI suffer from saw overflow.

Only about half of my saws fit into my English tool chest; the rest are hanging on pegs on the other side of the shop (except for those that are hanging out on my still-unfinished staircase)

So I’m thinking I’ll build something like the saw-till half of Mike Siemsen’s “Saw & Plane Till” from the August issue, but add a back, a door and a few packs of desiccant. My basement is dry, but Cincinnati summers eat metal for snacks. (Note: My tool chest has done a pretty good job of keeping away insidious incursions of rust – of course, because I work out of my tool chest, the tools therein are the ones that I use most often, and are thus regularly cleaned and wiped down with an oily rag.)

It’s probably just sublimated staircase-avoidance work. I haven’t yet worked up the energy (or the checkbook cushion) to order the necessary 8/4 rift-sawn white oak for the spindles I don’t want to turn (I prefer the flat woodworking world…fewer chips and shavings get into in uncomfortable places).

Or I could listen to Chris and divest myself of those saws I don’t need. Ha!

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 11 comments
  • afullerton

    He/She with the most tools. Wins

  • MikeyD

    Maybe time to barter for those spindles. Well, unless you are really looking forward to learning how to turn. Hate to waste that expensive oak on mistakes, too.

  • bsrlee

    Just point out to the doubters that you don’t have to stop work on your current project to resharpen the necessary saws, you can just pull out another one of the collection which is sharp and keep going. My grandfather, who trained in woodworking around 1900, always had a bundle of saws which he used until enough got too blunt for his taste, then he tied them up with string, wrapped them in brown paper and took them to the big hardware store in the city to be professionally sharpened. (No suggestion that it was an excuse to visit the wonderland of tools and hardware – nooo) And back in the days before carbide teeth he did the same with his power saw blades. Amusingly, after learning basic woodworking he ended up apprenticing as a confectioner which he was excellent at, and that paid for his ‘hobby’ of woodworking – I know he did all the wood joinery for the house I currently live in as well as 2 holiday homes for himself, all out of his double garage home workshop or on-site – windows, roof, floors as well as furniture for a herd of relatives. So, no, you don’t have too many saws, but you may not be doing enough woodwork.

  • Petersontools64

    1. Whatever “tool” you haven’s used in the last 12 months (this does not include any of those tools of your granddad), say “bye-bye”…
    2. As to Russian lit, listen to a bit of Shostakovich–that may help.

  • Jim McConnell

    Building a saw till was the second best thing I ever added to my practice (the first being a chest). If I were itinerating a bit more frequently I could keep my saws in a chest, but the wall till is far more convenient for me. I hear you on the weather, but the sticky summers in NC are no joke either and I’ve not yet found a need for doors. Having my saws on the wall motivates me to keep up with them more regularly and they all get wiped down with oil on a regular basis.

    And yeah, you have too many saws 😉

  • BLZeebub

    Hey, at least saws are easier to store than planes. Hmmm…

  • mslorax

    I was just at the BadAxe Sawlapalooza. Let’s just say that I sympathize. I do have a saw till on the wall. By my calculation the saws I just bought will fit…I think. Hummmm.

  • pmac

    Gotta keep Grandpa’s. As to the others, you could try taking them all out of the chest and keep them out until you use them. The first ones in of each kind will be your “favorites”. The other duplicates can be sold or given to friends without a second thought. This works with clothes as well. My wife thinned out her collection and Goodwill was very happy.

  • bowmandk

    Simple test of whether or not you should “divest”… describe the difference between them.

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