In this guest perspective from Bill Rainford, traditional joiner, we learn a powerful method for analyzing today’s tool prices and thinking about which tools you really need in your shop. For more depth on choosing the right tools, and especially using them, don’t miss Chris Schwarz’s new value pack – in stock today! When I started out woodworking I’d watch television shows and read magazines pushing all kinds of fancy new tools and think “If only I had a shop full of those tools I could build anything.” I spent a long time saving my pennies, reading the reviews and trying out the latest tools. I quickly found that power equipment was not broadening my capabilities as much as it was like an anchor tethering me to a limited band of work and taking up valuable shop space. If you are looking to downsize your powered shop, get into more traditional woodworking or if you’re just starting out the questions that often come up are: What is a good minimum set of tools I need to get started? In researching the Sloyd tool cabinet shown at left I found some old tool catalogs from Chandler & Barber of Boston (a primary supplier of Sloyd paraphernalia), including one from 1900 complete with a list of pricing for all the tools in the cabinet. In 1900, just as it was when I was a student over 100 years later, the view is that it is better to buy a quality tool once that will last a lifetime than buy something of poor quality which will not serve you well in your work.
If your wallet still cringes at the totals above, fear not, for the totals above are for all brand new tools. The one luxury we have in our modern day of hand tools is the large secondhand market where you might be able to scoop up some great tools – possibly even some of the actual tools that once inhabited these cabinets – for the original price in today’s dollars, or less. I do not have the appropriate comparisons to hand, but can you compare the price in 1900 vs.
At this stage, it’s worth noting the simple fact that our economy is vastly different today (in both dollars and activities) yet woodworking is still here! I think this article has proven two things: the dollar has lost a tremendous amount of value, and tools are much more expensive than they used to be.
Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years.
Traditional Woodworking : Woodoperating Tool Maintenance – The reason why come up with device upkeep?
Traditional Woodworking Tools : Woodoperating Is Quite A Gratifying Hobby – possibly you will be contemplating starting woodworking?
The word woodwork in reality relates to the method associated with Creating, Generating or even carving several thing making use of wooden. You’re able to create chosen tasks along with simply hands resources, Even so Power resources help to make the task proceed considerably easier. Looking for Ted’s Woodworking Download Free Woodworking Plans For the DIY Woodworker? I’ve been working out of a traditional tool chest since 1997, and I did everything I could to resist it. In the December 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine I have an article on how to design a good tool chest.
I don’t expect to convince the tool cabinteers or the wall rackers that they should build a tool chest.
Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press.
I’m wondering how I can access the original other article that you wrote, I think in 1998? A workshop for a farm that has neither electricity or mechanization is Oz and Neverland all rolled together for a visiting ten year old.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ATC and really appreciate you putting into words the feelings I’ve had my entire adult life in such an eloquent and straightforward way. A corollary that follows is whether a tool chest is intended for all tools, or whether it is intended for only specific tools. I think you need to think about the tool chest in light of chapter 2 of the book, where Chris is suggesting the minimum of tools required.
Most of the comments that dismiss the idea of working from a tool chest seem to dislike the idea of having to bend over to get tools or banging your knees into it when moving around the shop.
It was also my first inclination to not want to look towards the floor for my tools, but it wasn’t more than a nano second later that I told myself, that if I were to work from a tool chest in my shop, I would somehow elevate the chest to make life easier. I elevated my second tool chest (which Megan purchased from me) on a stand for many years and worked out of that from home. True – but I need to build the ATC or something close to it (and wear heels in the shop, I guess).
Anyway, point is, I saw an EXACT (down to the sliding compaartments and what not) tool chest like your Chris.
I can’t think of any valid reason a tool chest shouldn’t be the first choice in storing hand tools. I have toyed with the idea of building one ever since seeing Duncan Phyfe’s chest at Williamsburg. Chris, after attending your seminar at WIA entitled 12 rules for traditional chests, I was absolutely convinced I needed to go home and build a traditional chest just like yours! These chests take me about 40 to 50 hours of pedal-to-the-metal work to get ready for finish. And so I have reluctantly spent the last few weeks designing a chest that uses home center materials, home center joinery and only 16 hours of shop time to complete. If you want to know how I build a tool chest, you can check out the many videos and blog entries I’ve written on the topic here on the blog. I bought the video at the hand tool event here in Australia so maybe that’s why I paid so much more (we always pay more for things here in Aus), never mind, I got to meet Chris and got a signed copy of his book which is great, just thought the DVD was a bit over priced for 30mins. This is Perfect – I was going to try this to hold some tools, while I cut and dried wood for the permanent Anarchy.
David, that chest, which Chris calls the Dutch Tool Chest, will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine. The dovetailed boxes are undoubtedly more beautiful in execution, but we have to remember why craftsmen of old used dovetails. Why not do something that makes you a little more independent in your tool-buying decisions? This article is about woodworking hand tools, but as someone who has visited Bill’s shop, I can tell you that he is no hand-tool purist.
I also didn’t like wearing the requisite dust mask, hearing protection and safety glasses all the time – it was like a mini sensory deprivation chamber.

Keep that in mind as you review the list — since the tools were not the cheapest back then and surely are not the cheapest today.
So before you break out the barbeque, give some thought to how you can free yourself from a mountain of modern tools and invest in a modest set of traditional hand tools that will get you started on the path to more enjoyable woodworking. He currently teaches Traditional Building at the Boston Architectural College as part of their Masters Degree in Historic Preservation Program. Otherwise, I think the list is excellent and a woodworker with that tool set and a decent amount of skill would be able to build just about any ordinary piece of furniture or cabinet. You’ve just proved my theory that the base cost of any new pastime, whether it be hobby or sport, is $1,000.00!
Simply because maintaining your own resources within fairly good working circumstance is essential with regard to security as nicely as high quality from the task when designing fairly good woodworking. Woodworking may possibly signify an fun as well as satisfying pastime, whilst It is also really irritating. It does not make a difference regardconsiderably less of Regardless of whether you’re the man or woman, youthful or even aged. Ted McGrath spent the last 2 years placing with each other his woodworking package and according to him this package is the most extensive on the internet right now.this package is intended for a wide audience. I’m just Jim Dandy if you sand, scrape or plane your finished surfaces – we all end up at the same place (with differing amounts of debris in our nostrils). It’s an OK article, but it doesn’t address they fundamental and crazy advantage of tool chests – that they are the ultimate vault for the objects that allow you to build anything. I spent more than two years probing the historical and physical record of tool chests and their contents. Even though I’ve been working wood with power tools (and some hand tools) for a long time I feel like a newbie as I move towards a more hand tool based approach. I want to build a tool chest because, at the level I’m currently at, it looks like a good challenge and an excellent way to further hone my hand tool skills, not to mention it looks like fun. For example, the DVD did not show all the planes you use, just the jack and a block plane, as I recall.
I was intrigued by the idea after hearing you speak at Woodcraft here in Atlanta and motivated to build one after reading Anarchist’s Tool Chest.
I almost never take the sliding trays out of my chests unless I’m doing some demo to show construction details.
However, your comments have nudged me back to that position, and that is what I plan on doing. There are as many answers as there are questions, which someone said some hundreds of years ago. However, there are some good reasons for wall mounted tool cabinets and wall mounted tool racks.
A cabinet would require more cost and effort to construct, but it can be left open for ease of access while one is working and closed for dust control.
It would be secured at the top of course, but I would hem in a long dowel at the bottom of the canvas. I have a tool rack above my bench for my chisels and saws and another under my bench for my planes. But they are hardly more irrelevant than any other system of storing tools, including cabinets and wall racks. I’ve been reading the ATC and even before I started reading it, reading about it, and looking around my shop, has convinced me that I need to reduce the number of tools I have. The skirts and dust seals are made entirely out of one 12’-long 1×12 of some solid wood.
You’d love some of the machinery, new and old, he has acquired and cared for over the years. When I asked master cabinetmaker Dan Faia what he does for dust protection in his own shop, his succinct reply was “I never coughed up a curl.” That pithy remark reflected the very different view traditional woodworkers have – without all the big machines, the dust and noise, you can focus on the work, invest in a smaller set of high quality tools that should last a lifetime and enjoy the process as much as the result.
But with this modest set of tools you can build an amazing array of projects just as many ‘Sloyders’ (Sloyd school students) have done before us. He's a graduate of the Preservation Carpentry program and many Cabinet & Furniture Making workshops at the North Bennet Street School, where he also teaches several workshops.
Or perhaps more simply, based on average wages of the day, how many jack planes could a worker buy with a day’s pay, vs how many jack planes could one buy with today’s wages? So for instance, a quality new jack plane of the day was around 9% of your weekly salary and one today is roughly 25% of the average weekly salary.
Upkeep associated with resources is quite as important simply considering that the woodworking task you’re focusing on. The set contains plans and even blueprints for almost all woodworks that one might need for home, farm, or office.
Inside a world full of mass-produced, badly designed furnishings, It’s every a excproductent to create a item built together with your personal 2 fingers. Merely There are all types associated with tasks that might be built utilizing wooden — Not only furnishings! Newbies will have no difficulty selecting on the projects here with clear and concise plans. The quality on the information found in Traditional Woodworking Tools (Traditional Woodworking Tools : Woodoperating Is Quite A Gratifying Hobby) is well above anything you will discover now available. But after years of kicking the thing and reaching into it to grab the tool I needed, I began to understand things about tool chests that aren’t easy to explain with words.
This new learning curve has been rewardingly steep and your books and DVDs have helped emmensly.
Where was the jointer (LN #8 I believe), shooting plane (LN #51), and I think you alo have a LV LA Jack? Then the reality of the time frame and my still very limited abilities brought me back to earth.
However, I’m thinking more about a wall rack so that all of the tools (yet to be purchased or acquired) can be easily seen and reached for (as the wall cabinet), but also easier and less expensive to make.
When I want to start working at the bench, I would roll up the canvas and lift the long dowel onto a couple of hooks (wood or metal) to hold the canvas out of the way while I worked.

A small roll around stool will typically fit under something to be out of the way when not in use. In some climates, their tools might be piles of rust by the time they finish building a chest. The construction methods I am using are taken directly from historical chests from my personal collection. And if I had to choose between having a home-center chest or no chest at all, the answer is simple.
Hopefully the dvd will be better value than the $35 – 30min scraper sharpening video I bought recently.
Yet a straight monetary conversion doesn’t paint a complete picture since some tools that were common back then are a specialty today, and vice versa. A long time woodworker, Bill currently works on commissioned pieces from his own workshop, site projects and personalized instruction. At some point, they can move on towards a lot more difficult projects as they acquire confidence. Neither the rack nor the cabinet were as capacious or convenient as the simple tool chest I built based on an 18th-century design. I have many long years invested in trying to snuff out the idea that tool chests are irrelevant to a 21st-century woodworker.
Instead, I purchased an antique one last week that I’m told is probably from New England and built in the 1850s.
Like others, since my future hand tool shop will be a workbench off of the end of my bed in my bedroom, I’m restricted on space.
I am sure once I gain the experience to know immediately the right tool for the job, a chest would be a better choice. And I know we’re making the final edits on the new Schwarz DVD – should be soon! Realizing that earlier craftsmen didn’t have access to all of these modern wonders yet they produced far more intricate work, I began to approach woodworking by more ancient means. So I created a spreadsheet that includes columns for the original hand tool prices, those same prices adjusted for inflation and actual prices for similar tools from today’s retailers. Plans provide for the very structure on how woodworks are laid down clearly and concisely; hence there is nothing else to search for. Professionals on the other hand will locate a bit more to discover from extra suggestions that can further enhance their skill. I want to know why, but in the end I am just grateful that they are as pristine as the day they were made, even though they are 12 years old (or older).
But my guess is that I will like it because, hey, you’ve been right about most everything else. Where do you store the Miller’s mitre box (perhaps that goes under the bench) and where the mitre saw? To follow a particular path in order to fit a given mold would be contrary and counter productive. Chris also mentions that one of the tool tills can be used to transfer tools to the workbench top for use as needed. Firstly they are big and my shop is at the back of my garage so there isn’t alot of extra space. Needless to say, I have started my traditional chest patterned after yours, we will see, I think I am going to like it!
Another thing to note, the average person of 1900 paid almost no takes, the effective tax rate today is 37%. Woodwork plans with Teds are most conveniently carried on because of the many helpful freebies provided.
I do not recall these tools being mentioned in your book, and I wondered what happened to them as I recalled the joy you shared after purchasing them. You can always get one of the hydraulic lifts from Harbor Freight and elevate the chest for use.
I know I could make a smaller chest but that would kind of defeat the purpose of a chest to hold ALL of my tools. To my eye, it is easier to put up tools up as you work if their home is eye-level in front of you. Now I’m not saying that people back then had a great life, times were generally tough, but as far as the value of money, it was much higher then than now. Makes it difficult to get the lower one out because it is trapped by the runners for the upper shelf.
Interested in your thoughts as I try to imagine what my dream future workshop will look like. Before the guide was published, all measurements were correctly checked by an specialist, thus growing the reliability of this guide. And, the saw till was built to ride on the same runner as the lower shelf, leaving a lot of dead space below it. The illustrations and precise numbering is really crucial since several totally free guides do not offer correct particulars which is why several home projects end up failed and abandoned.All round, Teds Woodworking is a comprehensive package that aids homeowners carry out woodworking projects easily. This is a solution for everybody who requirements to style creative house furnishings without hiring the professional. I’ve had tools go to ruin that were wiped down and stored in the special “plane socks.” But tools in my chest have always stayed clean.
I still think a hanging rack for my chisels and another for my layout tools will still be a part of my workshop. Each choice has an impact on the next choice, so I just sit in the garage looking at it and waiting for a revelation.

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