Reflections of the Tool Chest build

In the not too distant past in a place far(ish) away (Kentucky) I attended my first woodworking class.  There were a few first’s in the class that I thought were interesting. This was the first time I had stayed overnight in Kentucky….they say it is the south but I am not so sure. Where I live anyone north of Interstate 10 is considered a Yankee. I have lived in 2 places in my life – Southern LA and Australia – both south of I-10, so each time i go to Yankee land i am interested.

The more important first was that it was the first time I witnessed another person use a plane or saw for woodworking purposes. I was quite amazed. I am “self taught” aka I watch a ton of videos and purchase too many woodworking books (there is quite a bit of harassment in the house about my library).

This class was at Kelly Mehler’s School in Berea, KY and was taught by Christopher Schwarz. We built the tool chest from his book The Anarchist Tool Chest.

While driving up I was attempting to determine what I expected to get out of this class. To make a long story short (it was a 12 hour drive) I decided the only expectation I had was to enjoy myself while I had 5 days at the bench. My expectations were exceeded greatly. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with both my classmates and the instructors. I would definitely recommend a course at Kelly’s or one with Chris. I also enjoyed how the course was instructed…we were given the theory and thought process behind why an item was constructed in a specific manner and then showed how to do it. I would then return to my bench and proceed to screw it up, then I would think about it, then screw it up again, then think about and produce semi-acceptable results.

Prior to attending I was unsure if I would be able to keep up with the seasoned woodworkers that would also be attending. I realized early that you work at your own pace – I also realized that I really didn’t care if I finished the chest during the class. I was much more interested in the process, not the product. One day maybe I will be able to demonstrate the importance of my process through my products……not even close, yet.

I was also very cognizant of the fact that I was not attempting to feed my family by building this tool chest so I never became frustrated. I think this was an important key to enjoying the class even while “working” 10 hours per day. It never felt like work. A positive mindset is one of the dime store philosophy principals I buy in to.

One unexpected result, that I didn’t think about before, was the opportunity for networking.   I now have more than 0 people to ask questions about woodworking. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy talking about woodworking. I met a nice fellow there, Jonathan, whom I may have already aggravated with questions.

Chris, chronicled parts of the class at the popular woodworking site. I am the one that looks out of place – if judged by age (or hair quantity)….

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

That’s enough for tonight, I will post more on what I learned about woodworking in a future post.

12 thoughts on “Reflections of the Tool Chest build

  1. Excellent site, Sam. Before I knew your name, you were, “The guy doing twice as many dovetails in Schwarz’s class.” (I saw the video from the blog…) I’ll keep you on my list of things to keep up with.

  2. I think you may like Shannon Roger’s hand tool school, you can go to his blog and look for the hand tool school on the rights side of the page. This has given me a lot of the tricks and why’s that I missed as a self taught woodworker and more importantly someone to exchange ideas with and get advice.

  3. Well, you certainly didn’t screw up much as far as I could tell. And you needn’t have worried about keeping up, as you left several of us in the dust!
    I look out of place in the videos if you judge by gender ;-)
    I hope to see you at another class!

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