don't buy the combo kit

this is my toolbox. well, this is my toolbox for woodwork. i have others. while i'm sure that most no one gives a rat's patootie about my woodwork toolbox, or the contents thereof, i'm gonna write about it anyway. see, here's the deal: while most people's graduate experience is about having more things to get done than they care to shake a stick at, mine, at this point, has turned into more of a waiting game.

i've planned well. i've alloted these final pre-thesis-show weeks to certain tasks. one week was alloted to completing the monuments. this week is preparation of the lots out in town where i'm installing them. the final week is for installing the gallery work.

well, the monuments got finished early. i can't do the gallery work because the space isn't available yet and i'm "responding to the space." (and besides, betwixt us, i don't really know yet what i'm gonna do in there anyway.) that leaves the lots out in town. well, i've spent a nail-biting few days waiting to find out if i'm gonna get my prime spot over on the westside. i still don't know yet. i've been walking around with my finger on the cellphone's "ok" button for days. that bothers me, too, cause i'm convinced those things cause cancer. (finger on okay button = finger cancer, shirt pocket = breast cancer, back pocket = butt cheek cancer, front pocket = tallywacker cancer). i don't like being around them, and besides, i indulge in enough cancer causing behavoir anyway.

so, to burn up time and keep my mind occupied, i fairly well completed a toolbox i started on a few years ago (and i wrote stuff like this for the blog...and played a bunch of guitar...and took naps...). i actually finished the toolbox part of it a while back. i just hadn't hung up all the tools in their proper places yet.
so, here at the tailend of a graduate education in fine art--for which i've made nary a piece of furniture--i have a host of tools in a toolbox, all properly hung and orderly, that will probably go to live in the shed and rust...

here's what it contains (almost all of it given to me as presents):

hammers: a non-marring rubber mallet, a tiny finish hammer, a large beat-the-crap-outta-stuff hammer (that i made for myself), a tiny chisel mallet (i won in a dovetail cutting contest), a large chisel mallet (self-made, also), an assembly mallet.

chisels, etc.: a crap set of marples for doing rotten jobs, a primo set of hirsch chisels for doing primo jobs. a v-gouge, a veiner, one small and one large gouge, two burnishers (the triangular ones are no good), and an awl. also in that section is a set of screwdrivers.

measuring tools: a tiny engineer's square (and man is he tiny!), a baby starrett combo square, a 12" starrett combo square, a baddass robert sorby square, a 6" machinist ruler, a 12" starrett ruler, a 24" straight edge, a marking knife (handmade from an old jointer blade), a marking gauge, a bevel gauge, a compass, two calipers, a thickness gauge that i'll never use and a handmade sliding rule to check the squareness of drawers.

saws: tenon, dovetail, zona, flush cut japanese, and cove cut saw.

planes, etc: a crap stanley block plane, a lie neilsen block plane (both low angle), my grandfather's #5 stanley, a #5 lie neilsen, a #7 stanley jointer (all with greg hock's replacement blades), a shoulder plane and a scraper plane. one straight and one curved spokeshave, a gillion cabinet scrapers (sandviks are too hard, cliftons are too soft--or maybe it's the other way around...).

drills, etc: a handcrank drill, a set of bradpoints, a set of "paddle" bits, a machinist's set (from harbour freight--man, do they suck!), various router bits, a hole finder drill thingy, several auger bits, a set of gimlets (that work beautifully), a set of plug cutters and a set of countersinks.

files: one crap rasp and one nice rasp, a couple of large single cut files and a couple of small single cut, a sandvik rasp thingy, a round file, a #4 slim taper saw file.

misc: a corkboard, a bowl (turned by steve blouin) filled with pencils, a picture of alison mailing the final copy of her dissertation, upteen roles of tape (two-sided, stupid duct, real duct, masking), a box of wedges, a dust mask, ear plugs, a box- cutter, a saw set, a cassette tape that i don't know what's on it and a piece of tape with a cartoon drawing of me in a mask bearing the caption "thievin' foam rubber."

all four-thousand pounds of this is contained within a beautifully crafted, dovetailed cabinet of air-dried north carolina walnut and maple plywood. it closes, locks, and is on rollers for those brave enough to push it.


Kevin O'Mara said...

I love this post. I love tools, I love loved tools, and I love tools that are For Purposes I Do Not Understand, which is what most of your tools are. I've never done anything productive with wood as I've always been more of a metals guy. Wood is a mystery to me.

So I love this post is what I'm saying.

Are you coming to Portland soon to do a "learn how not to screw up while working with wood" seminar? 'Cause if so I'll be there.

Alison said...


Wow, it's beautiful. And I don't think it will just rust. At least, I hope not. I don't know if you're ever going to be a fine furniture maker, but you might at least make some stuff for us, or for gifts, or for the homeless.

I also love the idea of a seminar in Portland. We'll have to rent a UHaul to get the toolbox there, though. Or you could install a motor and we could drive it there.

By the way, go for the butt cheek cancer. Everyone who cares to has already seen your butt cheeks, so you can give one of them up if you have to.

And one small correction: I was mailing my book manuscript--way post-dissertation.

Walter said...

oh yeah. i knew something was wrong with that sentence. i couldn't fingure out why you'd be mailing your dissertation--or why we'd care...

and sure, kevin. go to your local woodcraft in a few months (i'm teaching a class at the charleston one in june) and tell them that you know someone you want to teach a class there.

better yet, go to ocac (oregon college of arts and crafts) right there in portland and tell 'em to bring me up as a visiting artist. in the meantime, you might as well take a class there--since all you do is cook food and shit. (smiley face) i don't know who's teaching there now, but they used to have a good program in wood.

Zane said...

I really enjoyed the list. I too, like KO, love tools and love to love them (but not the rasps, ouch).

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into what helps you create your wonderful furniture/art. I also enjoyed seeing that you keep your crap tools.

Starting woodwork as a hobby means that I too have many crap tools, but at least I know which ones I'll be needing in the future and which ones are table clutter.

Alison said...

I just noticed, when I enlarged the picture, that you also have a picture of the Piepmeier siblings and you spitting, in the top right corner. I love that picture!

mary said...

what are the names in the tool box? neil...stan...

Walter said...

neil and lee (as in lie neilsen), stan (as in stanley), 5-finger sam (as in it doesn't belong to me), mama (because it's a big mama), and the spokeshaves are "gay" and "straight"--one for flat and one for curved surfaces.

i'm not a big "namer," though. like, i don't name guitars, or cars. i don't have a name for my own weiner (weiner-naming is a little disturbing to me). it really just started as a way to know which spot the lie neilsen went and where the stanley went (their little holders are customized.)