ATC Part 1- Dovetails, Dovetails, Dovetails

The Anarchist’s Tool Chest (ATC) is the first book written by Chris Schwarz and published by Lost Art Press (LAP) in 2011. Ths book had a major impact to my woodworking mindset. Before the ATC, I was primarily a power tool user and used hand tools as an afterthought.

For those of you that are concerned about the word “Anarchist’s” (because it has been used in a negative context before) in the title, here is Chris Schwarz’ explanation: This is not scary at all unless you sell cheap flatpack stuff made of termite spit.

My interpretation of the Anarchist part of the title speaks to the philosophy of shrugging off the mentality of buying expensive (or cheap) poorly made disposable big box furniture and acquiring a set of high quality tools and making furnishings (and shop appliances) and chairs yourself that will outlast the maker. In other words, “Anarchy is a society being freely constituted without authorities or a governing body”. This frees the woodworker from the current state of systems put in place by organizations or corporations who would like you to buy their products and dictate what you should buy or if you desire, how you should make things.

Getting to the ATC, I noticed that LAP was having a class on the ATC in August 2021, taught by the excellent Megan Fitzpatrick. I decided I would love to build the chest for myself and I signed up for the class as soon as registration was open. I secured my spot in the class and got an AirBnB across the street. I was set. Because of Covid-19, we all had to be vaccinated, which is good as cases were increasing while I was there.

Roubo Clamps with makers triangle

After introductions of the instructor and students, the first day was examining the boards for the sides, putting the cabinet makers marks on the pieces (the triangle that indicates the orientation of all the pieces as seen in the image above) then marking and chopping out the 28 dovetails on the main box. This was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from Megan and I think I have improved my dovetailing skills as a consequence.

Chopping Dovetails

The day ended with most of the dovetails cut out.

Next up ATC Part 2 – Glue and Skirts