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The last day of the tool chest class at Dictum workshops was supposed to be all about the lid.

One lid in one day. Easy.

Well as it turned out, the last day of the tool chest class was about visitors. Toshio Odate stopped by on his way to Passau to see the workshop and examine our progress. He’s teaching two classes at the Dictum workshop this week, including one on shoji.

Odate, always the gentleman, stopped and talked with every student. He asked them what they were working on and joked about their micro-adjustable marking gauges.

Odate picked up a hammer and said, “This is my micro-adjuster!”

The students were charmed.

Then we had some more visitors from the monastery who were interested in what we were building in the shop. And then owner of the restaurant stopped by to say hello. We’ve eaten at his place every night during the class – the food is incredibly delicious and inexpensive. And they made us feel very much at home, even when they should have called the police instead. (Sorry about our singing.)

So then we got to work on the lid and learn the most important lesson of the class: dovetails are easy; mortises are hard work.

As a result, no one finished their lid, but they all got close to completing their tool chests.

If I ever teach this class again, I’ll do a lot of things differently. I’ll have to. I don’t have a soundtrack of Danish military songs to sing in the background like I had at this class.

— Christopher Schwarz

See the other videos in this series:

Back to Germany to See an Old Friend
Video: ‘As Smooth as a Nun’s Stomach’
Is There a Dominatrix in the House?
None of your American Cowboy Tricks


• We’ve published two good books on designing and building workbenches: “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” and “The Workbench Design Book.” Both are available in our store.

• Roy Underhill’s tool chest from the June 2009 issue is pretty awesome. That issue can be downloaded from our store here.

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Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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Showing 18 comments
  • Jonas Jensen

    Hi Rod

    I just signed on the ship again for a 17 days shift (night-watch).
    Actually I wondered too about the Star spangled banner as well, but maybe the sound wasn’t so good.
    I have finished my lid now, but I still need the upper dust seal.
    By the way, I thought about adding a strip of leather as a flexible dust seal on the back of the lid, nailed to the lid and to the carcase. I don’t know if Chris can accept such a deviation from the plans?

    I could really use a Blutwurz, but I’d better just take a cup of tea to avoid trouble with our alcohol policy on board.

    Best regards

  • Bernard Naish

    Hi, I have been working on a tool chest design for some time and would like details of those made in this class. Any hope?

  • KC Kevin

    I seem to notice a recurring theme in these videos, Pastries!Should we read anything into that?

  • jmhickey111

    What a good experience. I’ve enjoyed following the class. I’ve also enjoyed the music you put to the videos. Would you be willing to let us know who those musicians are and the CDs those tracks came from.

  • Tumblewood

    What an incredible experience. It seems for both you AND your students. No offense Chris, as I have the deepest respect for you and your knowledge base, but I’d abandon you like the ugly girl at the school dance for the prom queen, if Mr. Odate entered the room. What a treat!! I need to visit this place when I go home to visit my wife’s family in August.

  • AnthonyT

    I suggest you take a trip back to Greenville, SC and teach this class. Think of it. You get to teach the ATC in the same city you bought your first craptastic dining table. Full circle. Genius.


  • rboe

    You could play marching Blue Grass music. If there is such an animal.

    that is one heck of a tool chest. Uf-dah!

  • abt

    I thought the video camera was kaput!. Thank you to whoever helped Chris get his ’70 mm’ behemoth (or, whatever that camera phone shoots in). up and running again, or loaned him theirs. Great looking finish class.

  • John Cashman

    I had the great fortune to meet Mr. Odate at WIA in Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. I had read his books, but it was the first time I heard him speak, and it was marvelous. I will always remember him during one of the breaks, at the marketplace, throwing around balsa airplanes with some seven-year-olds he had just met, and behaving as a seven-year-old himself. Priceless.

  • Ajax Alexandre

    Is the shop off the grid with the solar panels?

  • DanGar


    Can you bring me some pastry products please? 🙂


  • stjones

    Has the guy at 1:28 ever heard of holdfasts, tail vises, or bench stops? Aiming a chisel at his hand? Maybe the celebration when he finishes is for the fact that the nerves, muscles, and tendons in his thumb are still intact. There’s a reason why one woodworking school (with tons of power tools) says that chisels are the #1 tool for producing trips to the ER.

  • lawrence

    What an awesome looking class. It looks like an enjoyable time was truly had by all–including the teacher.

    Well done succeeding with so many challenges (overseas, new class subject, Weiss beer, probable 2nd language barriers for some, Weiss beer…)

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.


    -What is the name of the dovetail type at :13? It looks amazing!

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