'Make a Traditional English Tool Chest' - Popular Woodworking Magazine

‘Make a Traditional English Tool Chest’

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs, Woodworking Videos

English Tool Chest

I have a love-hate relationship with “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” the book (now in its eighth printing) that inspired our new “Make a Traditional English Tool Chest” DVD set and download video with Christopher Schwarz. You see, that’s the book that gave him the impetus to step down as editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, to devote all his work-related energy to Lost Art Press. And while I eventually got his job (which most days feels like a good thing), I miss working with Christopher every day – his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the craft was a constant inspiration to me (it remains so…but I don’t get to bask in it as often).

On the other hand, Christopher’s book remains one of the most inspiring woodworking books I’ve read. And I’ve read it many times…because I copy edited it, then copy edited it again (and I think a third time…it’s hard to remember now), then re-read the build sections again and again as I made my own tool chest. But it’s the philosophy sections that resonate most for me – his manifesto that woodworking is a subversive act, and that tools are at the center of an ethical life. Anyway, you should read it (and know that I have absolutely no financial stake in your doing so).

But if you just want to build a traditional tool chest and/or listen to and watch how to do it rather than read about it, I highly recommend “Make a Traditional Tool Chest” – it is sometimes easier and/or faster to learn by watching then doing, than by reading about it, because you can better see how the maker is holding and using a tool. Also, Christopher is funny on camera, and keeps you entertained while he works with interesting history lessons on woodworking tools and techniques.

Still, I recommend both reading and watching. Then making.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

Megan Fitzpatrick's anarchist tool chest

Here’s my tool chest, back when it was new, but before I fit the interior bits (summer of 2014, I think). Right now, it’s in my horribly messy basement shop…can’t show that here until I get it in better shape!



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Showing 18 comments
  • Ralf

    Is there any plans, video, for the Dutch tool Chest ?

    I looked but did not see

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      Chris wrote an article about it; it’s in the October 2013 issue

  • festus77

    So hey Megan – is this going to be available on Pop Wood videos, or not ???


  • BikerDad

    his manifesto that woodworking is a subversive act,
    No, it’s not. If woodworking were a “subversive act”, then there would be secret police camped outside your offices. Nobody beyond the craft, certainly not among “the powers that be”, has given one iota of thought to whether or not the craft of woodworking will overturn the current world order.

    There is one simple thing that woodworking does, one thing that maybe possibly could be considered “subversive.” In a world where so much is head work / virtual reality, it puts people back in touch with the messy physical world, complete with irrational randomness. In short, truth. It demonstrates the gap between theory and practice.

    When the edge meets the wood, truth manifests.

  • jbaker.rower@gmai.com

    When will it be available on Popular Woodworking Video?

  • jbaker.rower@gmai.com

    When will it be available on Popular Woodworking Videos?

  • Simonhi

    Hi Megan,

    Will you shipping any of the DVD’s to the UK ?

    Many thanks,


  • mslorax

    Hi I’m watching the video now. (Got the download) Is the panel for the lid made with a plow plane or the dado stack? I am trying to figure out how to cut that groove in end grain and I have an 044!

    • dwdougherty

      I have the same question.

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      Lemme check with Chris and get back to you as to his no. 1 recommendation…but you can plow in end grain. Just need a sharp blade (as always!) and take light cuts/multiple passes. To avoid blowing out the end of the cut, remove that last bit by cutting a ramp with a chisel (e.g. a chamfer tilting up into the waste)…or leave the workpiece overlong until after you’ve plowed, of course. Or, work in toward the middle from both ends.

      • mslorax

        Thank you!

    • Christopher Schwarz
      Christopher Schwarz

      Sorry to be late to respond. I should have mentioned it on the DVD. Plow the end grain first. Light cuts. Freshly sharpened blade. It will spelch at the end. But the long-grain plowing will clean it up. You can take a heavier cut on the long grain grooves.

      Done it many times this way.

      Good luck!

      • mslorax

        Thank you!

  • captainjack1024

    As a consumer, of course, we get the best of both worlds… more content from Chris and associates, plus more Megan. Win-win. 🙂

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