Working towards my own “Anarchist” tool set. (part 2)

Continuing on the topic of building out a tool set inspired by the book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” and seeing how I’ve fared of late.  Before this weekend my tools were scattered all over the shop, and in piles.  It was very frustrating for me, and was probably risky for my tools.  Also, I’d lost a few tools under the piles, and I couldn’t find some of the items I’d picked up.  This weekend I completed my conversion to the Hand Tool side of the force, and dug out the Craftsman rolling toolbox that was holding my power tools, and cleaned it out.  I put most of the power tools in a plastic bin, where I could get to them if I needed to, and cleaned out the crap in the drawers.  The Taig Mini metal lathe went into it’s own box, the drill bits into a small box by the drill press, and so on.  Then I gathered all my hand tools together and finally gave them a home.

My Anarchist Tool Chest... For now..

Is it a fancy wooden chest with sliding tills, and dovetailed corners?  No.  Will it do for now?  Yes, and quite well too.  My amazing wife got me this chest ages ago, and I had lost it into the back corner of the garage.  In cleaning and clearing this last weekend, I was able to unbury it, and reload it with my hand tools.  It felt nice to put all of them in one spot, and organize them.  Additionally, my bench top was clear for the first time in months.

Now to the rest of the Tools mentioned in the book, using his headings.

Essential Cutting Tools

He places great stock in the bevel edge chisel style, and I think he’s got a point.  I had purchased a nice full set of non-bevel edged Woodriver socket chisels on a recent sale, and they work great.  However I recently saw a set by Narex (a well known “best value” kind of chisel) with bevel edges.  So I picked up a small 4 piece set from Lee Valley, and they are quite nice.  They are the same quality tools as the Mortise chisel set I picked up, and look to be good user tools.  So, for bench and mortise chisels, I’m set.

I’ve got a Stanley #51 Spokeshave, but I’m going to try and track down a #151 adjustable one like he recommends in his book. As for the rasps, I think I’ll wait a bit to get a little bit better at the regular stuff before throwing in more complicated curves.

Striking and Fastening Tools

I’m doing all right in this department, some of it intentionally, some of it by accident. I made my own striking tools for carving and bench chisels.  I have a nice set of knock off of a vintage style flathead screwdrivers, they are well made even though they are obviously out of the far east somewhere.

The first real purchase I made with the intent to build out a tool kit of hand tools was a roll of auger bits, and a nice rosewood handled sliding bevel by Stanley at an Antique Show.  The auger bits were a mixed back in terms of quality, but there were also a lot of duplicates in there as well, so I was able to build out enough working ones to make a set.  Combined with a brace, they are quite useful and I use them frequently.  I recently picked up a bit driver for the brace from Lee Valley for driving screws to try out.  I think I can get some good results with this.


Other than having no place to store them (more on that in a later post) I have a pretty good selection of saws now.  I used to hate hand sawing, with a serious passion.  I sucked at it so badly I usually screwed up whatever I tried to do, kinked the saw, or hurt myself.  Or all three.  Seriously, I was a miserable failure at sawing, which seemed like it should be so easy.  It was very frustrating, and quite a bit discouraging.  Until I learned how to do it right.  Wow, what a difference actually applying common sense, and proper body posture makes.

I’ve got a couple vintage Disston crosscut saws, a no name (and a little rusty but other wise servicable) rip saw.  I want to either rehab the rip saw, or pick up a new one fairly soon, but it will do for now. I  need to remove the rust though, it’s pretty gross.

The most awesome wife in the world (my blog, my opinion, deal) got me a couple of Lie Nielson back saws of the Dovetail (amazing) and a Carcase saw (awesome), and they’ve been a joy to use.  I could use a better coping saw though, so something to put on the list.

That’s it for now, but I’m definitely feeling pretty good about my tool kit these days.  Next up the Sharpening, and “Nice to have” list.



  1. Luke Townsley September 5, 2011

    Nice tool chest. It looks like you pretty much have everything covered.


  2. Badger September 5, 2011


    I was surprised actually at how close I was to what Chris was recommending. It gives me more confidence in what I have I think.


  3. Gary Roberts September 5, 2011

    A Craftsman Tool Chest! Very proletarian and appropriate. I have one under a bench, one floor standing an one carryall. All old Craftsman brand. Strangely enough, they do just as well as SnapOn chests would.

  4. robert campbell September 28, 2011

    I have one of these chests too, and used it for my hand tools (and power tools) until I got serious. They really are great, despite being aesthetically inappropriate, can’t think of any reason they aren’t fine choices for a hand tool shop. The shallow drawers are amazingly deep, eh? I’m always surprised by how much can fit (and get lost) in there. My real problem is I always want to set junk on top of it, so the bin under the lid is hard to get to.

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