I Can't Fight This Project Anymore . . . .

Cue the REO Speedwagon over length guitar solo. . .

I have made it no secret I am a big fan of Chris Schwarz's work and writing. I've even professed my undying love respect across the undying electrons of the internet. (HERE)

And while I'm not interested in being a carbon copy of anything or anyone, once I finished setting up my Winter Shop and stepped back to look, even I was surprised at the not so subtle influence Chris has had on my shop.

With the workshop items I couldn't live without in place, it looked like a interior decorator with an boner for Lost Art Press had done the job. (I guess that would be me) I mean seriously . . .

Anarchist Tool Chest

Wall hanging tool rack

Nicholson style workbench

Anarchist English Square

The OK part is that I understand my problem.

A few years ago I was having an evening meal with a small group of woodworkers, and one of them, unfamiliar with me asked what I like to build. At the time I was finishing up a version of the school box from "The Joiner and Cabinet Maker" and like the simple psychology of a word association exercise, I piped up, "I build anything Chris does."

Later on I over analyzed that conversation and that statement (as I do), and decided there was something I had to change about the truth in that. In my core I want to explore my own work, but it's uncanny how closely my workshop aesthetics and habits align with the things Chris writes. Some of it is my own proclivities, some is direct influence from his work. The chicken and the egg argument ensues.

Here's how weird it is for me. I literally had a rough draft of a measured drawing and article query for Popular Woodworking on a Medieval Aumbry Cupboard. I was a few days away from finishing it enough to send it when I read on Chris's blog that he was building and writing an article about the same piece. I was frustrated for a bit, enough to delete the work I'd done, but in perspective I have no hard feelings and I can't wait to read the article when it's published.

So I purposely began to steer around the projects I saw Chris doing. I did not boycott his work. I just though long and hard about things before I jumped into them.

The problem is, trying to avoid a good solution out of stubborn pride is just plain stupid. So I succumb.

I succumbed when it came to the wall hanging tool rack and I'm preparing to succumb again.

Roy Underhill's Nail Cabinet (photo borrowed from Chris Schwarz and Pop Wood)

The Winter shop needs a place to store nails, screws and bits of hardware and I have loved this nail cabinet project from the first time I recognized it for what it was. Over all I like the idea of storing hardware in this type of set up, I love apothecaries and spice cabinets, but Chris brought it to my attention and because of that I put the brakes on.

But it's too perfect to pass up. I will build one.

Chris's take on the cabinet hanging in his shop (This photo also stolen borrowed)
My version will be close to faithful, but I want to add some elements not present in the original, or Chris's. I'm considering extending the back panel down below the bottom board by six inches or so. cutting a fancy profile out of it and adding some pegs to hang things from. I am also going to use this project to start practicing a skill set I've been dying to dip my toes into. Veneering, parquetry,and inlay. The door panel and drawer fronts are the obvious victims here but we'll see how far it goes. Shop furniture is the perfect place to experiment.

I've got a couple boards of 1"x12" pine sitting around and only a couple of small projects in the works. I need the storage in the new shop and I guess it's time to give in, shut up, and start sawing.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Funny post, I'm probably a bit of a fanboi too. The ATC book nudged me into woodworking. I built the under hill cabinet myself, it was a fun project and it came out really well. It the best set of dovetails I've ever cut, hiding under the trim:)


  2. Look at the multi drawer cabinet Chris Gochnour did at finewoodworking. In the video he does a small 12 drawer unit. In his shop Chris has one with 64 drawers so it scales well.

    1. Also the door on the Roy cabinet looks cool with the art on it but I think it just gets in the way most of time.


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