I have a tool chest! part 1

pine and oak tool chest finished with Federal blue milk paint and antique oil

pine and oak tool chest finished with Federal blue milk paint and antique oil

Hello again!  I’m glad to see you’ve all found me at my new home, on our new website!  Once you’ve finished catching up on my blogs, make sure you check out our main site, McLarenFamilyCrafts.com, and see what the business is doing!

I’ve been on a break from the turning projects for the last couple months, preparing for and recovering from a class I took.  I spent the last week of September at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking (marcadams.com) taking a class called Hand Tool Immersion 101 with Chris Schwarz.  I’m incredibly lucky that this amazing school is within an hours’ drive from my house (it was about 10 minutes before we moved this spring), and I would recommend that anyone who is looking to get involved in woodworking, or wants to further their skills, sign up for a class if you’re at all able.  I’ve had nothing but good experiences in the years that I’ve been taking classes there, and consider myself a much more capable woodworker because of it.

This class was a bit different from the others, though I suppose that could be said about every class that goes on there.  This one was specifically targeting young woodworkers, short on time and money.  Tuition was reduced, and Marc graciously allowed the students to camp on the property in order to cut costs.  The material for the projects was donated by Marc.  The typical tool list that is sent out after being registered for a class had a bit of a different message:  basically, bring what you have, buy these couple of inexpensive tools, and we’ll fill in the rest of the holes.  Chris had been working on the concept of this class for the better part of a year, and had called upon the woodworking community at large to help keep the craft alive by helping us young ‘uns get started.  He had an amazing collection of tools that had been donated for us to build our collections.  And finally, knowing that we were going to need a lot of help to get everything done, many of Chris’ friends and associates from Lost Art Press came to help him out.

The project for the week was building a traditional tool chest.  It wasn’t Chris’ famed “Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” but the concept is the same.  Instead of dovetails, it was hide glue and wrought nails.  Just four boards, rabbets on the corners, and the bottom nailed on.  Add the two sliding tills and a lid, and you have a tool chest.

Like most classes, Monday was spent tuning up the tools we would be using.  You can’t woodwork without sharp tools, right?  Right.  So we ground our jack plane blades into the proper shape, flattened the back of our chisels, and then learned how to use an inexpensive sharpening jig to sharpen our chisels, jack plane blades, and block plane blades.

Tuesday morning we were given the four sides of our case.  We learned how to use winding sticks and a jack plane to flatten a panel and set to it.  Once flat, we learned how to use our block planes to smooth the panels.  Then we learned how to cut rabbets with a panel saw and a shoulder plane.  By the way, I wouldn’t suggest trying this without using a straightedge clamped to the workpiece while sawing and planing.  I took the straightedge off after sawing the shoulder, and my first rabbet took me every bit of an hour to get finessed square.  The other three, when I went back to the straightedge to keep my plane square, were significantly quicker.  Then it was time to glue the sides together with hide glue so they could sit overnight.

This class packed WAY too much information and experience to be covered in one blog post.  I’m going to stop here for today, and next week I will pick up where I left off.  All the chests are glued up and clamped.  Come the next morning, what happened?  Did anyone’s chest fall apart?  Did anyone glue a clamp to theirs?  Check back next week to find out!


Oh, and if you want to see some of the pictures that the school took of the class, check out this link to the Marc Adams site’s photo gallery.

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