Anarchy Now! (Dutch Constitutional Monarchy Later.)

This month I’m (finally!) building an Anarchist’s Tool Chest. With my thickness planer on the DL (more about that in a minute), I’m getting plenty of practice planing boards to thickness by hand. It’s an enjoyable task with the poplar I’m using for this project.

Planing poplar to thickness.

Planing poplar to thickness.

I have three sides glued together, and I’m halfway through jointing boards for the fourth side. Working in ninety-minute increments, it seems like it’s coming together in slow motion.

Panels of experts agree.

Panels of experts agree.

I’m looking forward to the dovetails, now that my workbench is complete. I think I needed a dovetailing project to remind me why I wanted a shoulder vise in the first place. The shoulder vise gets in the way when I’m jointing a long board. I may saw it off someday, but I’ll try living with it a while longer.

It's not the shoulder that hurts.

It’s not the shoulder that hurts.

If I had it to do over, I’d build a Roubo workbench with a Moxon dovetail vise as an accessory. Don’t get me wrong, my workbench is rock-solid and hella-useful, but all the cool kids have Roubos and Moxons, and my Klausz is behind the times.

Later this year, my ten-year-old son David and I are planning to team-build a Dutch tool chest. His tool kit is outgrowing the tool tote we built last year, and the lack of protection from dust is problematic.

Before the October 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine hit the newsstand, David and I sat down with my copy of Jim Tolpin’s “The Toolbox Book” and some photos from Chris Schwarz’s blog to come up with a measured drawing for this chest. (I’ll be interested to see how close we got to Chris’s plan. I’m pretty sure I misjudged the angle of the top.) I have some white pine stashed away for the project.

Do You speak Dutch?

Do You speak Dutch?

What’s that? Oh, yeah, my thickness planer. I fired it up last week, and it started making the same rattling sound that preceded its last injury. My dad was over for dinner on Sunday, and while we nursed our second round of Boulevard Single-Wide IPA, we took another look at the planer. It turns out the cutterhead pulley had worn out, so that it didn’t fit snugly on the shaft. The resulting vibration and friction caused excessive heat, which caused the thread locker to fail on the nut holding the pulley in place. This is apparently the root cause of the last failure.

Machines fail.

Machines fail.

The pulley is inexpensive, so eventually I’ll make it out to the Service Center for a replacement. I might as well replace the brushes while I’m at it. You see? Machines are made to break down.

A Great Day for Woodworking

Sunday turned out to be a great day in the workshop.

David and I kicked off the day by cleaning up our workshop and getting things rearranged. He’s a great little apprentice. After he cleaned up his piles, I set him up with the push broom while I moved my drill press and sharpening station farther back and moved this rolling cart closer to the workbench. I filled it with planes, liberating my workbench.

rolling cart

I built the cart originally as a rolling base for an intermediate tool cabinet, but earlier this year I inherited my stepfather’s rolling tool chest, leaving this stand floating around without a purpose. The machinist’s chest belonged to my great-grandfather. Maybe someday I’ll get around to restoring it.

I can’t claim that this cart is an efficient storage solution, but it’s better than my workbench. Eventually I plan to build my own Anarchist’s Tool Chest, ditching both the rolling cart and the metal cabinet I use as a sharpening station. The wooden planes store so much more compactly on end, and these shelves are leaving a lot of wasted space.

The metal cabinet is a decent surface for my sharpening stones (I’m an oilstone guy), but the drawer and cabinet below are mostly opportunities for clutter. once I have a proper tool chest, I’ll store my oilstones there and ditch the cabinet. I’ll make some kind of tray to place on my workbench to keep it clean when I sharpen.

sharpening station

With a clean workbench, it was time to plane the core for my tail vise. I got it planed four square at 2-3/4″ thick, only to realize my plan was wrong, and it needed to be 2-7/16″ thick, meaning I needed to waste more than 1/4″ of hard maple. After a workout with my rip saw, I got it four square again. Good practice, I guess.

All of that practice reminded me how much I’m going to appreciate my tail vise, and also how much I need a saw bench. Luckily, while I was getting all of this practice, David was making our “someday maybe list” of projects, and he made sure to add a saw bench.

At some point after planing the end grain for one end of my vise core, I got sidetracked putting my miter box back together (I’m pretty sure it was when I measured the workpiece and found I had 1/4″ to trim from it). This led to dragging sawhorses from storage, using a circular saw to cut a 4″ wide piece of 1/2″ plywood for the table of the miter box, and remembering why I like hand tools in the first place: fine dust particles. Hand tools don’t make them. And, aside from the circular saw, the loudest noise in my shop today was the box fan in the window.

my miter box

Hooray for the miter box! Soon I need to make a platform for it with a cleat, so it doesn’t wander across the workbench while I’m sawing.

After dinner, I got a chance to meet up with Greg, who had some cool Stanley bevel-edge socket chisels set aside for me. The backs of the chisels flattened pretty nicely, and they look right at home in the tool cabinet.


It was one of those fine, rare days when I get to lose myself in the work. And yes, I forgot to eat lunch.

With a Little Help From My Friends

This was a hectic week with my wife out of town. I’m thankful for all the friends and family who helped keep us on track and kept us company. With all of that extra rushing around this week, a little shop time did me a lot of good tonight.

Tonight I took a step that was long overdue. I cut the rabbet for the tail vise in my workbench. I want to say my new workbench, but it’s been my new workbench for a few years now.

Just say cobbler’s children.

Now, though, I’m going to need that tail vise to hold the sticking board for the moulding. I’m also overdue for the shoulder vise and tool tray. Those are coming soon too.

Of course, a rabbet is an occasion for hand tools. I started with the rabbet plane in my gauge line. It was tricky at first, but I found that a more aggressive gauge line helped guide the rabbet plane. I was having a bit of trouble with the rabbet plane, and realized the sole needed jointing.

Here, my rabbet plane is getting a little help from a friend as well.


I switched to my moving fillester and found that it works very well, but the depth stop didn’t quite want to reach bottom.


After the rabbet plane got his sole straightened out, he was back to the rescue to finish out the rabbet.


If you’re thinking my tail vise is on the wrong side, you could be right (and wrong at the same time). It’s a left-handed workbench. Since then, I’ve discovered the benefit of learning to plane with either hand. Go figure.

Now the holes are marked for mounting the tail vise hardware, and that’s a good place to stop.