"The Anarchist Tool Chest" but the words I read and the sentiments he has been writing about on and off in his blog for the last 6 - 8 months have felt like kind of the mirror of my own feelings and thoughts. I wrote a post last August talking about the year I spent without my table saw and the things I learned (you can catch it HERE if you haven't read it or want to remind yourself)
At that time I was happy to be able to return to a full size shop from the closet I was working in before. Just the chance to set up part of my shop that I had been denied for so long was exciting to me, but in that time I had added new tools and a new skill set, a hand tool skill set if you will. Joining these two worlds together into harmony was not as simple and straightforward as I thought it would be. That should surprise nobody, things are never as simple as you sometimes think they should be. So I have begun the process of sorting through, at least in my mind, and working towards paring down, simplifying, and focusing on woodworking where for the last while I have been focused more on my shop and what I can do to improve it instead of doing the very scary work of putting myself out there with creative furniture.
Bad Axe Tool Works. This saw is in-frickin-credible! (OK and I was showing off a little when I tool the picture of it above, but it's not my fault, I was baited into trying my hand at "tool porn" but that's a different story)
I'm starting to call it The Theory of Tool Relativity, I don't have an equation for it, I'm just not a mathematician, but I do have a distinct feeling for it, when it feels right and when it doesn't. It comes down to simple questions.
Do I want to make furniture or do I want to collect tools? Do I want to work in a shop that's well organized with tools I know well that can perform everyday or do I want to work in a shop where I am fighting the losing battle of storage space and work organizers with tools that may or may not hold up ("Oh damn this smoothing plane is dull, let me go grab another") ? Do I want to be my own man and make my own decisions about what tools I need to get projects completed to my standards or do I want to be the puppet of the hundreds of tool makers and sellers out there and purchase the next dozen versions of the lock miter router bit?
Do I want to be a tool collector or a woodworker? Do I want to play around of get serious?
Here's a bit of how my thought process has changed and an outlook on what the future holds for the Oldwolf Workshop. As a lucky member of the email newsletter from Lost Arts Press I was sent the first 2 chapters of the upcoming "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" The first chapter is available for everyone to download HERE, but the second chapter is a little actual meat and potatoes. It is The List, what Chris Schwarz is naming as the essential list of tools a shop needs, period, anything more than what is on this list is extemporaneous fluff. And you know what? For the most part, I couldn't agree more.
So I sat down and developed a plan for my shop, not a rigid plan but one combining the flexibility I need with the focus I desire. First I took the ultimate list of tools from Chris's book and printed it off. Then I spent a good while with a highlighter and a pen going over the list, making notes to myself, thinking my way through the process of what I want as that list. Of course mine is not going to be a carbon copy of Chris's, and I don't think he intended it to be ironclad, besides change comes from thinking it through, not just following it blindly. I eventually separated the list of tools I should have to fulfill whats needed into two columns. A list of tools I should make, and a list of tools I should be buying the best quality possible.
I took these papers and I hung them on the bulletin board in the shop to remind me what I'm up to.
I have been in a heavy period of building things for the shop, understandable really when I step back and look at where I am in the process. I think that this list plus one big thing will complete the journey of readying my shop, for the most part. (sometimes I think I'd like to take another crack at a bigger workbench, maybe a Roubo instead of my Nicholson) the final item will be a traditional style tool chest.
I know with Chris's new book that this will probably be the "Hot" item to build and blog about this summer and fall, probably for a couple of years so I kind of feel like I'm just a sheep joining the crowd when I build one here, but the truth is this is a project I have been working on and planning for some time and even more seriously in the last year since my Father-In-Law gifted to me the family heirloom of the tool chest that followed his great uncle Melvin over the seas from Norway in the 1860's. (You can check it out for yourself HERE) And I have been promising to make one ever since I received the gift so I can get the old bird out of the shop and into my house like a real family heirloom deserves.
English Layout Square to the Moxon Twin Screw Vise, from both my workbenches, (Yes the Joinery Bench was inspired by Tim Williams but the info was carried to me by Chris) to my tattoo. He's a hell of a guy, a hell of a woodworker, and a hell of an inspiration, but I need to take a step back and focus on being inspired by his spirit to do more of my own creating and less "follow the bouncing ball"