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Talk Softly and Carry a Tool Tote

a couple of years ago

My shop is an absolute mess right now with my remodel underway. I have basically little to no access to any of my tools and my workbench is covered with studs and vulgar things like hammer drills and impact drivers that make lots of noise and leave my body feeling like I was in a bar brawl the previous night. However other than the use of said 18 volt drill I am doing this remodel sans electron smashing. This means I have pulled out a few tools and am working entirely out of my tool tote for the last 10 days. And I’m not just sawing 2x4s to length but in my typical ADD working style I’m taking this time to tweak some other projects like my tool storage in my tool cabinet. So my tool kit needs to do more refined work like joinery too.
minimal tool kit
I have spent the last few years toying with a minimal tool kit idea and trying to understand how 18th century joiners did their work with just a few tools while building everything from furniture to houses. So it was natural for me to grab a few essential tools, throw them in the tote and get back to work. While I won’t be selling off any tools and I will welcome back my panel raiser, hollows and rounds, suite of paring chisels, and nest of highly specialized saws when the shop remodel is done, it is liberating and fun to work with less. It tests my skills to cut joinery with only a chisel and saw and is truly stunning just how fast you can work when only using 2-3 tools. You realize how much time we spend putting down and picking up a new tool or shifting around a flotilla of tools all in use at the same time.

Moreover, with my workbench covered with stuff, I’m finding myself working on my saw bench for everything. Yet again another realization at how little space and work holding I actually need to do my work. None of this is a new idea to me or any of you I’m sure; but rather, an affirmation that you need very little to work.

So those of you without a shop or without tools, don’t hesitate any more. Pick up a few tools, grab a bench hook and get to work. And for those wondering, here is a little more detail about what is in my tool tote right now. I have a lot more space available too should I need something more specialized to drop in there.

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