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The Toolbox Book

Jim Tolpin


ThcThunton Press

I dedka:tie this book to the memory of my mother and father fanny and Alvin Tolpin


This book O'l~S its existence to the contributiens of many talented craftspeopl-e, museum cu raton, tool collectors snd editors. Indeed, ] could nat ha.ve wrhten it withou t their h ~ 1 p_ My t 113 nks to them all,


Kit AJrica, Stephen .A~,ex.llind,e:r, BiH Bl'lird, Joe Berbeau, P tel' Banen, Devid B~1,'an. Sanford Buchalter, Peter Cabot, WIl'lilIm Claj'tOn" Marthm. Collins, James Delsrnan, Frances Diernoz, Michael Doiron, Eric Englander, Reinhold Fa@'!:h, J_ Fischer, l.ind'('rL Frederick, Stephen Freund, Garrett Hack, Im:hth Hanson, Beth Ann Harrington, Micha!!1 Hayes, Je-rry' Hillenburg, Todd Hobda)" KNill Ireton, Tim Kimack, Tony Kon.ovah"ff,

teve Joh rison, Leonard ungevin. 1bm Law Wa,Yl'le Law, I3ertnm Levy. Adam ,\lanes, M1iIm Nels., Gm~ Nesbitt, luger Olsen. JeffOlsOfl, Sean Q"RolJltkc, \ lado Rubio Ospi na, Sheldon PeH)f.

J Francis Pftank, Charles Platt, Louis Plou rd, David .Powell, Ray Prince, Harold Pu roe II. Greg Radley, Andy Rae, Rod.gcr Reid, Karen Robelf~on, S:! m

bmson, Ellis Rowe, Dsvid Sellery,

TetsuoShlbata, Kevin Skurpski, Bill

S.Le by, Eric Smith, George Snyder, Stern

Spirt, 1'C)f1'l SlJl~lskasJ J:>In€ 5" .. 'a nSO'.I1, Bi]i Tinney, Chris \l\raI1J.~ss, Doug Vilranen, Donald Wing, David Winter and Wi Iliam Tandy 'lo1i.:mi!i:,


David Baumer, the ~.rjner's Museum,

Newport Ne\\'S. Virginia; DalVC Borgatti; D<I!le Butte!'\;ronb; Mike Dunbar: Merrl Ferrell, The: Museums. at StQny BITXlk, Stony Brook New Yom;. Jay Gaynor,. Colon ial Wimamsbu rg. Virginia; Steve Habersetzer; Jim Hoffman; Chailoes Landau, T1mbcrClllft Homes Port Townsend, Washington; Alexander Le~l"'':; Norman MuUe-1"; Franeis N<JItali; Dehbie Padgett, Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia; Emil

Pollack, The As'ttragal Press, 'Mendham, New Jersey; Daniel Semel; David Shayt, Tile Smithsonian Institutioa,

W3iningl()rl, nc, RogerSmith; Phil Stanley; and Philip Walker,



Helen Albert, Amy L. :Seroard, Jim Chiavelli, Jodie Deloherj, Ruth Dobsevage, Bs-rbara Hudson, Kevi n Ireton, Vinc~n.t Laurence, John Lively, Chuck Miller, Charley Robmson and Alec Waters_

photographer, Craig Wester, and the iJll1strator. Mkh:lel GeUatty, for their work in creating the graphics fur the book. Special thanks to Audrey Jean for logis-tic support. And, of course, thanks once again to my inde&tigalbleecii.T:or, Laura Tdnga]i.


2 In troduction

ONE 4 Tool Boxes and the Building of a, Nation Traditional-Style Tool Chests

A Student Tool-Chest Project Designing In-Shop Tool Storage

Wall Cabinets

Standing Tool Cabinets Rolling Tool Carts Designing Site Boxes Open Shoulder Totes Lidded Totes

Wheeled Site Boxes

A Toolbox for the Road Epilog


TWO 22
F[VE 76
SIX 912
EtGHT 12:4
NINE 132
TEN 1!H~
198 W.I beforethe fint colonists set th,e-:ir toolboxes down on the eastern shores of this vast "'Ilie\",' world, ~ndigenous cmftsmen of th Pacific Northwest were safeguarding their cl'nisels,lknh,res and gou,ges in d.eveily made bentwood ·boxes. Eons before the'm, at the dawn of wood,lI"()rkil.'ig, 'people made, used. and stored tools. Imagining myself sested at the hearth of an elderlY alil~tor, [ watch as he gathers up his precious bone and obsidian cutting tools. \.vito. great care, he wraps eacih tool in a SCI"8P of oiled sealskin and places it gently into an ek>g.mtly made satchel of'hsrdened leat'her_ As he turns the box-like bag 1n his hands, hght frorn the coolbng 6~ gl.istcru; off the intricate ornamentations :formed from shells and teeth. As. much II too] as. the implements it cont:ains, the satchel protects and organizes the fragile extensions of his gifted hands- And more: ] imagine this primordiaL toolbox as a tot~ln-a S, m hoi of the ancient craftsman's stature 3S a creator 'of Iife-gjving tools and w'eapQIlS for his people.

Back to the present. I .'Imunvi.ted to the shop of <I fine' f1,l.rnitl.lJ'c maker to see' a desk she has made, yet my ey ~. drawn moreto her exquisi1iell' made standing tool cabinet. The cabinet is lit once 8!

t h lng of 'U naoashed beauty and of

tilt imate pmcticaHty_ Placed just a step


"There are m;;'lny [[tools] which a cabinetmaker soon collects ...

which take up room and need their proper-place 1 and to provide them is a task which becomes a, pleasure' to a craftsman interestedin his

.1, II toots,

-Irom Modem Oabfna'! Work by P&rey Weirs aI'KI J'olm Hooper ll..onIWn: 8at5furd. 19001.

a.~1' from the vise end of her \'IOi'kbeneh, the hancJ.ij'oined hardwood bo'K with lrs bookrnet hed panel doors contains nearly all of her most commonly used bend tools, As site shows me how she made the hig:h~style dovetails nn one of t he drawers. l find myself '';'<it('hif]g ~11'hh gu:owing IiIscinati.otil:.'lS one eeolafecr another tlm'fs out. from the cablnet, dO'l'.':IiI.

JiO the work <lind then back agal III to it!> resting place.

Suddenly I m.3ik~a. connection: like the oruamerr~edlleather satchel ofthe Stone Age toolmaker. this furniture maker's toOlbox: is also a totem-a s, mbel of her ccmmirmem ito a trade and an expre sion of the best of her an and skill And [ real:ize ,that the teolboxes tha.t hold QUrtools an;~I li.~ it or not, a highly vis:ible testament to'O'urselve'S as woodworkers, a measure of the care ~ndJ skill l\re instill in dte objects that we create and! offer 10 the world,

In writing this book I hope to pay homage ItO these containers that cradle our tools • and also ito encourage you to bu ild a toolbox of }'Our 0'11\'11- The book ~Bins "'.'ith 3 look a:t tool chests from the g,old.e:l'l yea rs of the last hvocen'ttJl'ies, hish!ighting the cabinetmaker's 100.] chest. These chests richly document the high~y evolved technklilskil13f1d 3rtistry that flowed frcm the H-iands of master craftsmelli. follm!fin:g that is <1 ~Ueli}' of tool chests built by the student'S of North Bennet Street School D n Boston. The rcse of the book explores contemporary toclbosss, both those designed for use ill the shop (chapters 5, 6 and 'f) end those meant W travelto the job site (chapters 9, ]0, U and 12).

To help you choose the box be t suited to your needs. there are


di<SO.lIJSiOI1S of fumIa menta] design constderatlons for both types ofln,-es: ~n"Shop 'too] ~tQra!¥! ]['1 ChSipter 4, <lIrld sute boxes in Chapter 8. These more theoret-lea] chapters 'I...rm help yvu design your m ... n toolktorage system b'Y analyzing how and , v here your 'tooJbmr will be used <lind wmat toolsto store in it. Knowing these things will !111m", you 10 develop the outs:lde: propol1ions and th~ layout of interior compartments a ad mol holders, There is al'sodi5!ClJ.5:5.ion of maeerials, joinery a nd finishing.

Perhaps you ;ill ready have a mys-tialt ilrresistibl,e desire 00. build your Own toolbox (or should. I say totem?). (f not, here are some dOWIl-lo-ea,rth reasons f~m' doing so. The first is that there are sli:Il"prisingly few commerriaUy made woJOOll!e5 for ","OOdw'Orkers.-most r,eadymade boxesare designed. to contain mechanic's and machinist's tools, The' layol:!t of 1ihe drnw-er:s and other compartments-and the fact that many of these boxes :I re made from metal (wllich is notoriously lmfri~ildly to 'ClJJtt~llg tools}-makes them gefl!!ni]ly unsunsble for the woodworkingtrade.

Tnt:: secoed reason for buildirng ~'Our 0'I,m, tooUXIX i5 to gain the oppD,rtuni,ty ro

design and construct :a sWl<lge system that perfecdy accommodates }'OUf s.pecific 100]s :tInd! your (}\",'nl\'Orkung situatios; f'mdly:, it's a pleasure to own

<I carefully planned, weU·bui.1t toolbox where every ~OQl has its, own wellprotect~d, casilyaoc-essibL~ niche. In <Ii ·OOX you make you]"$df, your hilii[lci.s knew when! to find each toel, and your eyes

tell I ]'Q1lI in an i.ooantt if one is miSlliJng.

A toolbox is the kind of project that

ma kes you ,,'!/Onder not only why you

.. ~'Sited SQ long to, undertake h. but also how you c\"er ,got along wlIthoot it.

Most of the projects and techniquea d~seribed ; n the book are W!U with in the reach of a woodworker familiar with baslcweodshop s.kjlJs. There is :nothing particularly tricky:, for example, in the buildi'llg of my ha i'l(gin.g ' .. rail cab]lIl~

{pp" '83·'9 D. IllY roUing tool cart

(pp. 1]4-] 23) or m~' toolbox for carving d'llSds (pPt 160-] 67). To be su reo some of the too~bo..,,< projects contributed hi'

other profes.sio:nal woodworkers are considerably more cOItrpll'x. Hut i~luslrnted sbo-p-by'step CQIlsi:.mct:i:on notes should ease you throu.,gh some of t:hl! fussier procedures and specialized techniqu.es" YOu may also be pleased

to discover that rna flY of the projects'especia.Uy the smaller ones .. -can be

built fr-om scrap stock, costing you next tonot:hing.

Con:s.ide:r the h-uildi'n.,g of your own toolboxes, as a cha I[enge to, p!.!sh )IOU r il\;]118. U:s-e these projects as an opportunity to tryout new joine'1)' techni.qlJ£S, to work with woods you haven't touched before, and to apply preViously untried finishes, At the \ ... 'orst, )'Qu':11 end up with 8 good place t.o put your took. But at the best, you'll harve built fur yourselfan object oflaS'hng pride. utility and beauty-a symbol. of },01.][' joy in\;vwd!\lI/Orung beth roil" you.rself and! fur those ar-ound you,


Working wood is j nhe'l"ently daD#rotI$. UsiO,g hand or power tools, improperly or ignorill.g_ standard safety practices can lead to permanent injury or even deaeh, Don't try to perform opf"mtioru, yo~

lea rn about here (or elsewhere] unless you're certafn they are safe for you. If wmt-:'th:iiltg about an operation dOC'S,nt fed right, don't do irt, look For lIRofhe.r way. "'\j'llf!: 'WlliIHyou to enjoy the c-mft, so please keep safe-r,Y' foremost '~Il your mind whenever yw':re in the shop.

I N T ROD V C l' I 0 'fawtu:lli


T 01 OL BOX E, S





In the early ]600s, English adventurers and would-becolonists sailed into the Chesapeake Bay area of the Ne\'fW6dd to settle what ¥JU'~!id SOOn become Jamestown, Virgmia. Even duringthe earhest landings, it's a good bet: rhat weoden boxes :FuJI, ofbuilding tools were among the fi rst items to be set down upon these fresh, exciting shores, (VVe kno-w from the ship's manifests ofsome oftbese early voya~s that "tool boxes" were listed as ca rgo.) Wi th the tools carded withinthese boxes, thesettlers would create (line of the first European toeholds in this vast, andlargely unknown, continent,

Though it will never be known for sure what those first toolboxes may have lookedlike, J amestown' sl istorians feel they probably were similar to the ship's storage boxes Knmd preserved on the Mary Rose, a late 1500s Britishwarship recently raised from its mud-encased grave near Porrsmouth, England. Th01L]gt. these boxeswere simply

I., JameSlown, ship's 5<iorage ooX>e5Iik>e

this J1i!prOOu~ion wer,e probably pressed il"l1.0 service as carpenters 1001 eilesls, PMill courtesy 01 Jamll<SIO'Ml.'iQrlo:JtoINn Fouoo1ilion. Will i:;illnsbuFg, Va,

Carlpenter's Box of the l.ate 111008

Ei'Ot,ro,m and Sidrf/ Qftta:y m'S~rl into SiQP:pM',r:Ja@"

,f;;rtd d~ts: foall to OtIleide Qf ba>i'.

~ BottOO'l mold1n9 IHn.QuOlna .... tnnrrtdJ m~nw' a:r Cc;l:ITI€lffi

#lr.pp:roximate. si~; 16 il'll, wide, 18 in. i'i1gh, 4:2 ii'l" tong

eoolboxes 01'1 their shoulder or slun:g to (me sid.e from a leather strap had good reason 1Q keep them <IS s.mall ancllightlls possible. Wh~n fi,lted out witli notified wo'] perches ~llcl~iJded I:r.I'y5, dl~e bO:l<,'!E';S coo ld.lnoM a.na.i'ray of w.olssuffide[lt fur a variety of tal/iks, fmm buiHir:J& a simple piece of rum:itllre to cutting the timberflOlmc' joints for an irntLre build.iq. These' chest-type bexes had gre~tenWr;;l&-e area than the oldship's boxes w~rc:h canred

sides, aed they a'ilmved easier access 00 the eoelssrered \v:ithil1,

Th.ough th~~ Ixl~~ ""'~Il2~imp.ly btl ilt and plain]n ap,~r.aJlCe, they were DQt uncraftsmanlike in construction, The <comers were u~L:l:iiI~)' cl{}'I(!t:tl~led., and th ... ineerier toolbraces were illQttisedul;tw the end panels, The side and bottom. of th~ tnl)' Qotnp~rtrnent " .. ere ·often dadoed intotheboxs side v.mJI:s,.lnsome beses, s~.d'l as the one 811O'1,\'n in the

'J'h~ looll;l~, hhQlJght iQ' be: frQrTI ~pp@re'III, Mass .. i5 Iypi(:;ll ifl si~ and ~tm~tru~iaJl 01 ,fi ooloFilitil carpenter's bO-)i; of the late 170Qs_ PI'IIOIO oourlesy ollila New '(oFik State Hist\()~ical ASSOciationandl tile FarrneliS' Museum, Inc .• Cooperslown!.

photo aiJoV:<0, rhetray lid was d~verly hirlgeciby extending rounded 'temms lneo holes, Ofi either side of the OON. Countless csrpeaters carried these rather crude but eminendy practical toolbox~g through!))u'!: t.lle eol()ni~s,

h .. rnrnerl ng~QytheT th~fQulldatio]l of th.!:i.r new nation.

T Hi E au Il D I·t\~ G 0 Ii" J\ Nit 'f I 0 Nla'Wodii

ApproIDl!im:e.te size: 1116 in. "Wid'e at baGe,

1'6 in. high, 24 ill1!, 1\ol1Y

Bottom In mbbe1 J

"', "'l'- .... ---- Clenched ovrought-imn nails

r '"------------ Batlel1s fall to (l{Jtsio'e if).f box.

Wrol.!g~H!IO!n flails GlBnche-d (lu mad O¥E'r) on inside ,of ,box



. Wroug ht-iron

Ilower brackels

IIJnd e:conomica]ly built of oak planks "."ith,a minim!)m of joinery.~.here is much de".ern~'5s in dlc:ir design and censtruction. The end :planks, for example, were locked, ~I'I place by a full. length angled rabbet joint, Jill. addi.tion, the box's front and back were canted h:l\~'<lrd, forming a trnpe-mid, proba b:ty 'to alLmw the beses to fit tij;htl}, up agalnst the curved hull of the ship, thereby makin.g the most of the lim lted OIfgP


space. Another speculatlcn ~s that the ctlntc.'d side made eh bcee more stable in sh lpment. The shape is in heren:tly bottom-hea\'Y, and it also lends to compact the contents tmvaro the lowest regions ()If the box,

Carpenter' s Boxes

While ship':HYpe ~es probably served the settlers \II/(;!l roou.gh during their first yea.s. by themid-to late noos m3,ny carpenters had substlurteda box modeled after the type of household chest used to conta in blankets a I1d other domestic goods. At the' time, thiil're WI1:I'e few roads and veMdes, and itinerant carpenters who had to carr)' their

11115 i)ulch chest was brolJgl'l'l t() Amari-ca ~rI the !:ate 1800$. bUllh,Qb.llght to haw been buill several generations earlier. Photo comle:s.'!I' QI J_ Francis Plrank.



Enter the

Golden Age,: The Cabinetmaker's Chest

E .. centua'll}" Inany craftsmen settled

dot ... ·1l ill and a rou nd the bU1"gOOIII1im,g tewnships and cities o:hhte colon les. With the rapidexpa nslon of the we] I-todo mercharu dass carne a market for specla llzed workmanship of the hi.ght:~t order. Wood""'Qrke~ no lo~r had to be Jl1cks.-of-a'II-tmdes. a nd many tradesmen began to special he in cab]netmaki Ili,g; thii! buildinJl affine English and f..ul"Qpean style fumih.!ll"€. B~' the mid .. 1700s,

oncreasing numbers oJ experienced cabinetmakers were e1f1lligrnt1n~ from Engkmdl and elsewhere to set up shops, Workm n ofllcmdinga hea\'}',tll.tn.k-lilre chest from the back of ill wagon and

rru ndl i n_g it Inre a newweodworkmg shop was ;3 torn rnon s.ight illotaS the bustl ing bQ ... rdwalks,

Unlike the ship's boxes or the @afly woodworkers or the chests of the itinerant carpenters, t he toolboxes of special iaed ca.bi'l'I ermakers \/ll'CI"e"SO I a rge

:I nd heavy that it took at least two men to QU"!:)' theM. Luckily, they weren'r mQ\l\oo of tell. The toolbox normllUy sat next to the workbench, unless the Cl'anSMOrl

TlMollgll SIi'irkly p'ain on lhe oulS-id"e. iii. cabinetmaker's chesl when 0PElnw often rweals the epilQJTIe01 lhe craft~n's an. Thi~ eldraordinary eJlample IS auribute:d 10 an Many. mous ship b!..lild'er who lived somewhere on Ilh.e Maille coast in the 1;jIJ>1 cenlurv, TQOlbOl\ couriesy of :stem Spin; pl'l010 by Susan KaM.

moved on to another shojp. ]I' he had to take some tools to a work Site, hewould gene-ral ~Y' place them in :I bag 01'" oosket, !~iflg the carry strap over ~ n ilK handle 0:1' a st ~ck speciHQI!ly cut and shaped for this plIflX)se.

These stoutly bl;lilt cabmetmaker's che'St.'i lookL'd plain, hiding hllmbiy under rna r:I}' coats of ds I'k pa int. Inside, hm.vevel", there was often a gl.Qrio~s display of meticulously polished exotic woods, ivor}' knobs, inlays, string~llg and highly figured "·(!fu~ers mimkkifl.g the moot i mpn::'5sive a nd eX~ilisivc furn itu re of th is ern. Unl ess the underside of the lid 'I. ... ~s 'U!K''Cll1Q store saws, tools \,wre


nowhere to be see'IJI.-you \\IULl ldneed '~O pull open one of the IUQtly drawers Of lift the lid of:il tray to sec what treasores nlight Ii , .. rith illl.

Wby '!/lel'e these toolboxes so large and heavy?"Wh;' 'Mere t:hey built in the Sh3JiX' of;) chest? And why did craftsmen gOlQ such extraordinary lengths to make their chests masterpieces of \~·oo(h .... orking'

The nrst question is reiatiV(:'ly easy to anSl .. ver: 18th-century ubi netma kers built bie chests bcC3U e they had a lot of tools to store- The}f hada lot of tools because they were being asked to build furniture featuring fine joifu~ry, extensive inlay and stringing, exotic veneers and complex moldings. \;Vhich came fi rst, the dl!mii nd for 3 style or the teols needled tocresre lt, 'is. ;;1Inyone's guess. But ".'e do know that by the mid] 700s the tools needed to apply veneers, create inlays and run moldings were being, mass-produced in numerous fuct()ri~$ thrcughout England and Europe. Pos~n&a chest full ofthese tools was a sure sign that jou were an up-to-date master craftsman who ''''3S ca,piibk of b~ ilel; I'i~ the h~.gh-style furniture of the-time.

But wh),r did these skilled cablnetmakers build the1rtoolboxes in the form of a hum hie chest instead of a chest-on-frame? 'W1th some mitior modifications, these: fu rniturc pieces '!\'o~lld hMrCofkfoo ,s great deal ()fhi~~r efficient too! storage, Cost WillS ddlnitd), a melior. Firl, ~ low chest would haee been ctms.iderably cheaper to build in lebor <lnd !n.;LteJi~ls) than aimo~ liny other type of fUlrniJtlIl~ offi"rill,g. equivalent volume. The cost of overseas shipping. which was figured on the volume of an object. not its " ... ·eight, was aha a consideraden. To save money, 18th-centllfJ craftsrn.t'1JJ had to firt tlu1r tools into the smallesr :alfno~m1; 'of space possible. a I1d not much beats an IJnadom~ cube,

The low-chest configuration WIllS also fUfilcti.ona I. This style of toolbo« would fit ctisily under the end of lit workbench yet stili offu.r rclaeively ~ilSY 8C~- (As long as you cou ld open the ltd, you could probably g~t at (!wr-ythil'lg 'with If) tile OO-x.J By cent ~st. 11. oox ibllli It in III verriea I orientation would neeessrrily take up precious \\,,,,11 S],.13Ce and, in the in\f:3.riab1y small, ]lOClrly lit shops of this. era, mi,ght get ill the 'Iva'}" or Mock. a wi ndow.

A Ty'pical EUrOpf:H:HI (:offer

Ooffers were u~d as seats. t~01tNS; anO' stoMge to; household goods, They W9f13 J)i'(lb.§lbly the anc.e6'liO'l" of 16rh-centlll,f oabfn~tm!il'jI\j~('$ 0001 chests.

110 C tl i\ r T E It 0 ~ E

There m..tI)f, hOl!1i1ever, be Yf1: another explanation for the low-chest sty~e: adherence to tradition, You buM what your master taught yOlt to bu ild. whii;h is what his master taught hi m to bu]ld, and aO On back meo Sllltiqllity. There were few books, :.l nd ocrta in Iy no magazines, to spa rk fresh ld as.

It sa:.-ems quite likely, then, that the cabinctmeker's.chesawas lit dirK1: descendant of the medieval coffer-e common, versatile piece uf furrnture found throughout Europe and the Brttlsh Isles, While ofwn us-ed as a scat 01' table, the coffer also served another, perhaes more important, function: the safekeeping of v.~lu<'I bie household goods. ln the event of fire or atta.· k (rwo roth r common I'In·n.~r'!Oe.!l of those dam days), tli"'Q people could e'lllSi1'y hoist this furni.ture up and carl it a\\iay to safety. r surmise that the 18'th-centur)' cmftsman lea rned ea rty on ; n h is apprenticeship the technlques ofbuilding ~ coffer- That bc:iIilg the case, it's not sl:Irprisim: that a cabinetmaker wuuld house and protect hi:s va.luable,collectioll ofloullnd tools in a coffer-style chest,

One question 101:i11 remains: Why did i;raftsmcn lavish sueh nile <I ftistry and tedmique upon rhetr utiLitarLan oooI1:J.oK",~? One pepulsr theory is that the b~ildi ng of .a tool chest was ;1 requrremcnt of apprenticeship or a til

of passage to journeyman' t~UIS- It might follm'l.', then. that to dazzle the master on.d ensure p~M~, young op'prenlJdces would put all they had into the project.

1s this theol)' borne 0 It by the fa.cts? lt's not, lear_ 'Ne do know from some ISth-century apprenticoll j p contracts rhat !'Ilon;' apprentices received tools from their masters upon completion of indenture. [t seems obvioll1 that these }'Oun,g men would have been expected to 'prQ'II'i.cle a place to keep theirtcels. Indeed, the' makin,g of a chest would


have been an excellent: and practical exercise. But there doesn't seem to be nr har-d evidence that there existed, !'It least in the New World, any rormal rit:~ of passag>C' concerning me bu ilcli'l1lg of tool chests. In met, the il1stitution of the a pprentiCil"J;]ll"ip itself was a fa r more mformtill affair inthe colon les than it W"1lS In europe.

lt se€'JrllS more hke,lythat masterpiecequal it}' too! chests ~,.ere the- PrOO1I:1L'1:S of master cr.\lfts.i'l1e-m. :rather dum sorne

ingular expresslon oJ youthful of.':Xuberam:e. And perhaps for the5€' masters, theircaests were not parti.clilariy extraor-dinary at all. In eead .. thesetoolboses slmplyreprcsented the le\'Cl of skill the craftsmen expected of

hemselves and were o:fkring to the world, ([f the work were only for show, vou would not fi ndJ ....... s I d td under a loose piece of 'rnddi n.g-e~qujsil..'Cly !'n8d~ dovetails h'idden under O\.''e!''lyi~1g moldings onrc'nccr~J1'bis fillc work was

robab!y don in the spirit of pleasing lie If and OneS. COm rades rather tha I'l in some w.i~n attempt to impl'e5SUhe

In sddition 10 il'llricale ill lay work. some chests exhibit Mensive banditLg and rellel carvi i'ig. Tills 19(1::,ample' appears in Ihe: intoerior of an em'" 19ihcli'i!Fillury Amelfican clile~t. Toolbox oaurlesy 01 Donald Wing: phalo by Vincei'll La.tH'!I1JOe,

world. It is a lso worth noting that 11 craftsman's tool chest rna)' have heel) his most: valuable asset, and perhaps the only pic~oJ fine, high-style fut<F1iture he would (;-ver QWfI_ Perhaps bui.lt ia.rgdy from scraps !;iOWed from IJ }'.ing work a"llild embellished over a:n 'el{~ndoo ti me, this was magnifkence that a .craftsman of tile 18th century could affQlJ:1~1_

ThiS inlay detail, typical 01 Iha work found In !he rinesl periOd hnniturs, apw¥s on the inside lid ol lhe Dowling chest, an English tooloo){. blli~I' betJNe-e-nl'700and 1790_ Pho10 court.l3<Sy of Birmii'l.{iham Museum 01" Scienc(! and loous:lry, Sirml119ham. IEl'lglaru:l,

lid baIrldirng

Sliding' dn3lll;\erlill

Well oompartroont5

Top ·edgeof skiN at 3100 :ang.1e


-- J
~ - ~ 'II
oard .. ~
-I_- I'
" V
, I l
~ I
I ,Sliding ' ___
ill ...... , ,drawer ~ill . I
, , I
1 ~ Genter wall ~
I- Ll
I ,
I ,
V-- I - ~ I
rw·ells; I I I
-e, - ~ -

Replaoeable bam~m


Sliding dra.wer

$lidin'9l~ ~~
r- ~, 1'1,11' --\
~ = Q I
= JI I
0 I,
(;I, JIJ; '~
shielf L , ~
~II 7
I ~ _,_....,-
~~ I::
~ --
'1' , rI . Sliding

Replaoea.b e batte s

LolNer sklrl


AVlrate ahh~ w(:ight ehese fl~ily ]ooded boees would h~\re tos.uppo!r~ and of the abuse tht1 w(iyjd s~ffe1"duriilig shipment, the clraftsrru;:n wh.o built these tool chests did so with sturdiness foremO:lOtt in l't1onci., Ch.oosil'lg knoe-and defect-free pine boaeds a f\llill i r1" t 11 id fOifth~ box 5idcs.~hey joined the planks <It the comer'S ,\gH(:h dosel)! spaced (!Usually less than ] 'h in. a."i!lr~), tightfitti ng, d'lm'wgh dovet<lib-an e'XC!::'P'i:ionally s,trong.joint for this appliCilltiorl" In many hOl<iles, d'le 5icl~ were made from 8 fll~J'wj(hh plank, eliminating the need to join upbeards to stifficient \",iclth, Single--pl<lJnk COolllst[l.l.C~]OIli 311>'0 e~imi:n3t!ed tite potential 'I.'I\'eilk spot crested <til; the'

ju ne:t'!JJre: of t~VO boards,

It is il'lter~l;inJ:l: 1i'1;I note how lmhrersa~ the o'l'cmU durrll:::J1Jsions ahhC'SC chests appea r to be. Aher measurl Ilig perha P; aI deeen chests {:lind noting tha:t tile EngJ.is,h.·rmlde chests were generally a bit 13rg(:'r than the Amer[cSl.1l ones), I fou nd that when avernllpngthe dim~nsiQnS]

C:~ me up wi.th i\ 1"C'ct1U,gM 1(:1.1' bo:.:

TII:u~allming aplPrnxj.m<lltel.y 2: f'!:. wide by

2. kht,gh b)! 3 f1:. tOI'lg_M any of the chests ;'Ireproporti,Q]J!oo :acool"ding 1..'0 ehe rub of the chssic gold ell l.'m~~]g;te, whel'e'.~11 the short side ()if d'L(!'~et~[iJJ5~e is A~ighth!ii theslse of i1;he kmg.

like the: sidles, the toel-chese beetorn was aho made from l -i fl. pine. but instead ofnsinga singl.~widthpl~nk ("",hkh cm~id shrink andl pUI[~OO5C from the Il:aU!S), In:ilinycabinctmakcrs chose to ~(mgue lind g:rorn,.~ the edgt"S alnd tQ run the beards -from 11 he fr{l:t:rttothe ba.ck o:~' the OOJ,;" Though these floor boards ~r~ s.impl.y riaHed~o~he bottom ecl,geO'f~ach.




ALTI1:RNAl1lVE AT 8AiCK Cross sectlca


- ..::::; =-



In thisCi1l1'!st, lite pins of tl1eskir t M.fIrdI's OO'llffiails. o;ppo:le 1M direClrorJ of the dOV8tails o:n the bID:sir:leS. II! ibrass rub rail in'l;:Itd along the outsid€i €idg€i of the lop skirt bo.ard proleels lite eclge~1'011'ii dam8ige" Chest OOl!Jr~13SY of ~l'1Iard l.~ng€Yin; ,photo by Vin~ent Lal.m~·nce.

case s~dii:, th!l:Y "'l!I'C secured a second t"illl1ea]Olllg their edg~ widil. lIlai1!> through the ... k][tin,gOOJltds.

Tibese sklfti'i'k8 bo::i'lidis. were made from clear lengths ofhaoov.'OOd (lI.sua.lly ool:o:}, ""no .vc[£ Y'nerally ioinedat the corners ""i~h dovetails. In someinstences, as; in th~ phQtoa.bov.~, the P.~!lS ""I"creorientm QPpooh:e tothose onthe case, ensuring that the Lillie join:tJs., should they leosen, ,I .... ouid belocked in pl:aoo by the s.kirting j.Q<]~lts. The beetom ~kirt:illg neronly hd]?l--d support the floor 'oo~;cls ot'the-IJo(l{ h.y pro\l'id.ng nailinl_l;, butalso offered sbrasien protection M "'\r~H.

&4: 'Slightly beil()ll,~ the ed~ of the floor OO"lros, the skirts helped prevent rot by ".eepin,g~h'i! floor boards offth~ sh.QP floor. Expcf!ld~ble snetehers {and in seme cases 3 removable OO'l«"tilrlg of thin tQngue-and.groo'll'edIboordsJ fi ned the raised space to support the ,!\;'eight of thetcols,


The u[ppf.".f skirtboerd served. two

f~ nctions, F:"irs1l;, it IldlX."'<:I to lock the open top of the ClISC ~o,el'i'l!:r and to keep it from racklag, Anci second. the skirt, in ronjlllr"lct[Ofi \dt~;;l stripof\l\,1"()oorn:tl arou nd dl.e,.n:"U:icr.iid~ of the li.d,for:m.<:-d an effuctul,Ie d!l:lst shield. Anill'licrl;:stin;g variDlt.iOl'l. elf a top skirting alol'llg th~ hlnge side of a box is shown in the OOUClim clmwhlg O!lll;he fad ng P<Jg_c::. Seen occasionally in English chests Ondudin,g the we] l-known Doll/vii ng chestl, the top L~ of the skirt has beenp.ian.cd 00 form J rule joint with the back edge of the ]icl. This crested a highly ef)i.(:tive seal. and it also l'epon:ed~y f1,ilncUQI1ied as abllrg)a1" alarm 35'1/ve1l. Jf you P!J.I[[pOse!'Y' d~:d IliOt ,~(1JX thi s jO'int. it would m~ke:~. piercing ,;qlJe.li~ eech t iml;;YUlil l:iifted the ]icl--;1]'l

J !arm 3S ,effect u'I.<\e as hang; ng bells ullder the lid (.another t.rick reported1y employed in other Englhh Ch'~115).

'" lest ca blnetmskers constructed tile :1(1 from a singl('pla'nk, morbsin.g the nds into a crosspiece to help keepthe

d f1<]1t sad to red!Jceend Sl~liui!l:g, (A lid made from 5@Ver.J.1 planks wa~ mmal1:or -.ined with spli'lI1e5 <Ind hide glue_) To llow thepJi"lnk re shrink and expend, some em f~smc::n cut the tenonstoward

zne outside edges oJ the lld n~ H(l'Wel' mati their mortises.

Because the edge of the lid protrudes

pilst the rest (If the: box, it is subject eo a ertain amount ofabu:se:. The blliM.er

f the chest shown i Ili the d I"m.\'illgs (lfil g.s.12 <lnd n tnlaida strip of brass bsr ax k[l.ff)U nd the ou.tside edgE'S of t~Q lld

• absorbthe '-i/oe<!r and ~<lr lh .. t WQ~lld ihcrwise dest.roy the wood. Some other ~rs builders found to add metal rotecrlon are shown in the drawl fl.g bove tight.

IMietal~IReinhHted Edgings

Tile ctl.mpaign.style li1t han(jl€s for thi\1lCh!jlSl were I'laoo·forg€d by Ihe build~r, possib~ while working on bOllrd 0'1 whO'irimig ship_ Tile photo CIMlfty shows Oru;! dr.;l'lllback 01 a malal li~1 hafldl8: The ·anachlllne-fll bollS, haVJ!f'!g passed thrQliIgh the samce .gralflllln9 II'! Iitle wood, have- caused lha woodi10 s~lit If! Ihls .area· Chest ~urlesy -01 Leo:nard Laf'lgevin,; photo by Vinoern. Lautan~e.

1" B-1 [ lH)l L [I ~ NI C (I r A. NAT ION Ttfiwodl~

BUill by a ship,'S, carpente:r in the middle ollhe191!h 'oel'lllur'l. tnis chest iii l"Il'Iusual in thaI Ihe sorw till ads as a seecnd lid. Though this <lirraJlgemel"lt 8/dds 'oonsidera'ble wei9hl. the saws

<l.Je ~fely enclosed bellini:! a drQp-dlow!iI ~ai'>l1'~~

te5¥ 001 Leonard L8J"1Qe;tin; photo by Vi~nI Laur'enc@.


This crlesl wa~ bum by DlJ ncan f'nyfe. one 01 Ihi900unuy's premi~n catiJineM"lakers, in Ihe earfy ~SOOs. Th>8 ch,eSI.

,01 pine with tflie~ior littings raced in Santo Dcmingo mahOgenr', fealllJr>Bs is! hilrge slidIng ~ill CQnlliIining 16 finely dOV!Jlaliled dr&\-vers. Note' Ihe saw lill mOliJnI~d und!;lr the lid, an unUoSu,JliIlfea. tme 'fer Americaobui~ die9"'S,

To lift the chest, most builders pr-ovid.oo some fo:rm of hand~e .. SOIli!:" English chests used 3 rope paged through a hole in a block attached to each side of the 00'1{ .\I rid spliced i nto a loop" Several chests have OO'me to ~ight in which th.: top '\'(IS made long enough to reach ()\'erthe! top of the iJo.x,pe'rha.p-s so dl<Jit two people cauld Mi the box by passinga stout stick thmUf;h the l,;WO )CoCJ;.g. X'UlWJn,g hrn¥ much 1 ~i'h"'i:el1l''l.ury \'oroodworkers treasured their tools, t!n,oug,n, I doubt the}' would entrust

them 1;001 stick, however stout" My,guess is toot: .. Iu._. km.;:tb of'the lope' k.t>pt the

rahsnrlalf1's knuckles fr-om swinging into the side ofd'te box when tilting, it up in'too a conveyance or carrying It upstairs.

Beeees made in. the latter part ef'ehe ] 8th Q.'TIlt:m'Y oftC!1l were Ht1iedl with metal handles, Some w ere «rnmpilii:g!'l" style', that is. recessed inte.thelr ~'rrttcheQns {S~ the phete oap, 15)_ Thou~hoerhli!lly moreexpensive tha I1i arope handle and perhaps a Little less comfortable under load, rht:y ~V<:'Ji'Ie less liable to bt~a k,

T~1JYS ~~rud ~iJills

Of parti,culaf ilJltcrest in the d~i,gn <lind censtrucrlon of these low mol chests is (fie uSC of ~roys ilIitlcllilk To make the most use of dlle space with in. cebincemskcrs c.rea1edSil;orage u[libJ. of stacked trays 01[' a. tiU of drawers thalt sUrl beck snd funll on rai~s over a di'!;'ided ~~I. 11'1: the bottom of the box- Thls l ... re~1 was u5t:1.al~y b~lI~ It dttp enough to store l'lliI.olclil'lg planes oned~maximizil'lgth~ num.ber of p]i'ln~s~llat could be eecemraodased and m;;lkin,git easy to see 1i:h.e~r profi.I~'S"

Another tnl rLlightc:o:rlt3]n. saws 8!"11d other Jl'lrge·too'1s, such as a biJ}'Olil square, To access this till, you would 'either lift it oet of the box errt ~roely, or oj:Je'1l a hd at tnt' rop and read] ircJiW it from a bove, The lOp drawing a.t ri.gllrt showsa 1'1 unusual saw till. which W$S fou ad i IlJ a 00'1 in the .;o]lection of James Delsman, of Ashhmcl. Ore.g.on; here the saws are sl id intearack thl"it: pil".'Ots out afthelift..out

iI;;i ~!. Sometumes, as On t:he Duncsn Phyfe chest, shown in ~he bottern drawing ilit :rught,the 511'1.\' tin is not loc8ited ill thebox ~t "I] but is i Hf1wadlhed i:O the

'LmJ£L"Sidie of the Lid,

In yet ilirlOr.hC-f wliation,the saw tm might form an enture second li:d fnr the chest, The example shO\,vn in the oolwm photo on thefaclngpage ,,,<as builtb}r

C. A. Pierre, a ship's "arpente["s.:Ii1l'i~g out of N~w Bedford, ~:ssadllJset~.s. Acoordh"ijl1!Q his gITInd!childl1:l\, Pleece b~ilt this c:h~t ""hile 0:1iI. 3 fomj""y~a]'

wba~ irtt.g e"X_pedh:iQIl to the IllJd~an OC(:}l!n


Pi'Ilot pin

ltillJef ffame te slorMd f:or

fntifi~ WI slides (OlW~.ral w:h>6iti h'flol)6' on kip ("Ire dro_r front ate pull9fJ


Stepped! r!JnnefS '- Slidi ng sheU

ledge tar ~Iicling sinelf

Sliding shelf


No~e; SlidJng llBys could .also be .supponed on !rr.r/illidji(lllf:dfj(tS. The!Se are e.a!S'iet to ma~ tMn stepped tUMeffl, Ot.l't :!tie f.I~i'Glht of rhe tFl~yS mUSf be ffl'Q'!,.ICtlOl.

I _


on boillllrd the Ke~!Si~!gI(m, not an 1mprn;5i.bi Itt")! CD:nsideri ng the tl me a carpenter might h;lYe on hi~ b;JInds on such a IlJ extended journey, The handforged h!llldl.e'S mighit have been made in the shi.p's Ofl-ilXlard for~.

With the careful execution of this basici nterior layour, ill:: wliispos-s.ibit foil.'" cablnetmakers to reach many tools

.. vsth in the box without ha¥ingW remove another tool or s~or<lge unit. Often, Ilowe\'~r,ut might taketwo hand moeernents-one !CO slkle a drawer OUlef B till <ll~cl a. second to ~xtract the toot To get at a tool inl;ile OOttollflmOSI: \'I;'eH, you viouki slkle ovcrthe entiretil] and then ~ch dO\rnil'lto the !<'x~""d ",,'"CII, If. however, the box feiltured ::I bsnk of

slid ing trays [ratherthan ;;I :s,in,gle d I[ of drawers). you would. h<l'i.<e' to slide O\l'er each inclil\'.iduiI[ 'tray tlo get .~ the underlying wd[ cOlrlp;:!l'lment.

Because esse of movement of the tins is crucial 11o the ~ffi.cLetlll use of th~ chIt'S., the ledges 1I'ofe1e kqn well W'lliXro with i'I candle stub, On the' Duncan Phyfe tool chest, a VtG-i n, th kk steel strip tacked to t.hc~op of the led.~\·j<:: prevenrs wear 31:U.d adds slickness. A chest that I sal\' in the pl'i'l.l'.lle collection of Don ald Wi ng, of Ma.riOIl, Ma:>S<lchuset:ts, has strips of wh1'l~.e baleen 01] the ledges, pro'b.a.blyfor the same reasons, There' have even been reports of chests with mi neatul'e casters fitted to the bottoms of the 51 idi rig tills. Some obviously slid 5:0 well that the builder felt the aeedto add slidjng bolts to preve-nt them from moving durilng &hipping (S{;."f! the' photo on p, 21 ). Mos[ cabiaetmakers did not resort to this stra;n:g)'_ [Il!'te..ad, the}' !,\1l()1!.lld temporady fiU theopen w~nwi.,h~oose items like 'work aprons and tools .n7lipped in doth.

It was aston ishl ng h.(l'l;~' m'lI1~r tools these cabinetmaker's I; b~ ..... ~s c:O'L1~d llo1d_ Some had iIlJVentot.Lc; oJ n('i:lrly 400 tools--there are over 61 planes alone in

1; he Du nca n Phyfe cbest_ And most of


lEase' of AI~Hless:

Tr ay s vs. Tilll

[11'8Y f-3-~

i- "1-1~

I L ----

I r'~--~



I 1-.




II f>

I ~ -=' =- -

[)raw~r 1ill - I I - - --


IL r

r ----


L __ I

~ Sliding Saw
5h~l) ~ill

Saw tilll



SaJN lill

To teach Well C, ,~imfil'f .l;ft Q!;It Oil" S/j:rj:a GUlt saw t11l.

Saw I lill

------= I

Multiplfil'S/ir:JfnfJ ltay,s are fnfJf'lt;Jenf~f)ur motions are required to gel $'1 ~Mi in 'We" A

Sri(;f;ng dtawe.r~tm is e#JelBni---;fJne motio:n (pull ilOJ) knob 0.1"1 f'tli~' drawlJr frcmV' UflGQWlt\~ WelJ .A, and a$~oona" motion extracts the tool.

To ffli\'!1cli ~l 8. two motions am .reQurfeti: sJidm{J O~t th~shl]"t' and fh.e<j1· reaming In.

T I-I [ B U I L D .1 N G 0 FAN A 'f I 0 NTaWl0di


this kind of efficiency, then, what need is there to clutter' the bcnchwlth hand tools 011" In leavE them lying where another cabinetmaker might rniswkell'ly pick them 'Up or 8cciaf'ntally knock them 1)0 Ih(" floor;' K n O\vi ng, fhr \~I'ue and expense of hand tools, the lSth-centll ry cabinetmaker probably kept them Sl'Cllfe

in his tool chest mo~t of

the time,

Whnlt! 'I've know quite a bit about how

cs blnetmakcr's chests were built, we knaw very litrll:O about hem: tlley were used on. a daily basis. To a modem woodworker (myself included), the chests look dunk)'. HalViD'lg 1;0 crouch down .a nd glUP'l' about in a deep, dal'koo.x, sliding the tills and drawers to a I'lld fro to get at a sillgle tool, seems m .. ,k\,'ll'am a ltd tl me-consuming.

At first l speculated that at thestart of ... a h WOrkd,l,}', the cabjnil'tJll~ken\'(Iuld remove the tools he thought he would need for dmJt da.y·~ tasks, To maximize efficiency, he \'llfJul,d then either place ,them Oil his workbench or set them n.c:arby on <lin open shelf. But .after talking to several

rc catchers arid to ene woo(hvoffier who has sp!!nt m.any YC!<lrS working out of a 1!mdifion~1 chest, I carne to :{l diffe~nt conclusien, Whik it's possible that many tools may ha\'t been I~fl; out in a one-man or asrnall fumi.lytype shop (SC~ the pl'tmo of the Dominy .mmilly's shop on p, 6-4), it seems more liko.:ly that most cabinetmakers \mrn.('ti out of their toolbox-es on :[I ~ool-by-tool bftsis.lndeed, judging from the wear seen on the runners of m~ny Cn.e.>s:b, the till s experienced a gi."eat deal of'sl idh,g back Ol nd forth.

20 C II ArT E RON [

A 'It'oodworkEi aline be1'lch at COfonlfl1 Willlam<sDug. Photo courtesy of Jay Gaynor. Colo"ial Williamsburg.

To wt a better rreli ng for how these tool boxes \li/CI'C used-wh lch means understanding ~ to~lbt,x-towcrkbenc h n:latiQlnshi p 1i:lul 1.::'SS\:lltially no longer existspu.t yom:sel f for s. moment in the 110bnailcd shoes of en

l8it It-ccr:m.1l1· ca blnetmaker, As you take ~'Our first look: around, ]'OiLJ .nay be amazed et how smel I your wmkspace is, unt.il you realize that it doesn't h.ave to be large because th~~ us no Machinery. BI:(ilu&e you are nO!! using machines, you

discover an entirely m::vl' relationship between the tools and the wood: Instead of having to carry lengths of wood around your shop to feed 1:0 the rmdlines.. you Olin bril'.g the too! to ,ttl \ .. nod. And the 'I<,'OO<d generally sits damped to youn .. orkbench wh iiI.:' you size and shape it

hy h:[lmd.

As you work on the wood over the couese of the day, you realize }'l.")1!.1 rarely move very far-from the bencb-or from your toolbox, whi.ch IS just a step or t\~'O awa~_ VOUI' hands, flO"''''' familiar with )"O'UI" tool chest (not only did you make it, but you 8J1!:!o use it COflSt3nt~~·). call find any tool almost instantaneously. With


these tool had their own specific niche i thjn the cht:'S'r, VlI1t"h ~ I itidt; p.f<lcriolO'. the working craftamll n couJd flnd a'11}' tool v dthill his toolbo« on the fi.rst try nd IlsuaUi' witho~~t'e\'efl looking.

The latertoe firtt]ngS oo-rstoring tools n such 3 "\'.oell--o,g;tfl lzed \'v:IJi' were made as Hght as possible=most of the till

.. mponents were % in. OT smallerin

~i kness and often made from pine-1Do maximize the amount of room Il"ft ror

001 $torage .. ndto rnil1imi7'_e th~ \~ight of the chest itself. fur beallty"s sake, hOh'€wr, the faces oJ dill'" drnll,\'~n;. tills I"'Id trar I ids l'vel'efaced .. v it!:! lb i 11

\ enccrs of ~,,:ohc furlliw rc woods such as mahogany or walnut lind \"!Ier,;;~

m belli hed with i nlays and stri n,g,i ng of boxwood, holly, satinwood and ebony, The joi'fler~r of the d rnw<:rs and tni. s wa

On Ihls 1001 chest, slldmg bolts ke.ap tile trays lrom opening wilen Ihe chesl is o.eil'l9 tratI!Sported. ToolboJo: oourltesy 01 Dooa~d Wing; photo by Vlncant UllIre-m;:e.

almost universally fine dovetails, .... ven if it .... r.1s pt'rm;lJi'lClltliy hiddcfl from sight

u nder ,;1 rn.ci~. (ShO\-'I"ing off joi nery is, it seems, a rebti.veJy modern phenomenon.I

The End of an Era

ln 1i he early ] 800s, !II grou p of workers in Lcicestershirc, England, g;''I1[hcrcd together under the leadership of a ernrtsman named. Ned udd. The l'llcld~tt:'s, as tnr.!}' ',\\'ere <:alled, aUoempt,OCj to dest~ the raachines that threatened to put an end to 11a nd-eool cmftsDlIiIaIlsnip. Their noble, but woefull~ naive', OiImpaiglli failed, absoJutdy.ll'le'xornbly, machines began to transform the' workplace, rmd the ,golden age·oflland-bui1t furnlture drew to a dose, not only in the Old \1\'ol'ld but here in the UnHL-d Shites as wclL Though

firnc hand-bullt furniture persisted late into the 19th ct:ti.'tury (as did the bldlding of a number-of traditional, ornate too] chests), b~r 'the Civil Wa-r the era ofha[1o-tool cra'ftsm:i'ilsh.tp was ill!] but over, Cabi netm'l! k~rs bUD Idirllg fiTIll'" Iurnlturewith hand tools alone couldn't compete in pl"OdUCti011 or if! price- with mClories fittl--d out with the latest; n machine woodworking tools.

Prohably with great reluctance, cabim~tma~rs and their off~p;ifl.g left the'ill' quiet shops behind to find work in the d1n of mechan ~zed furnjrure f:u:t:ori(-'S, Because most of'these shops SQ.1ppl led the basic tooling to sizea nd

sha pe the wood, many craftsmen probably also left behind! their tool chests. Voung "rood/workers just en&:ring the trade til sd ~itde r-ea!iD1'l to bui Id I:nol'e than or -rudimentary box in which to keep their personal tools at work.

By the- tum of this C~l'Iwry, Dnf.lI!;to:ry shops across this naeion, the tradition~I, embellished cabinetmaker's tool chest was rarely seen by 8 craftsman's side. But the tradjtion didn't diit: t:"llt~£C'jy; pauernmekers, coachwrights and piano builders continued 'ro b'lij1d thf'i r 0\\'11 \'!"8lll--hungtool cabinets (5~ Chapter 5). Some, like that of pl'Ltternmaker

[1. o. St~'~dley, weremagnifi.cem.

Today, likely just in ehe nick of t1In e, a widespread resUlr~nce of i blJl;eTe'St inA ne wood working has brought the build ing of toolboxes back to life:. The ~ shown ill the bala nee of this book. arc- the wod:. of wooch.\lQrkel's all everthe nited Staoc':lllnd represent 3 va riety of

solu tlonsta the crnft. ... man's age-old problem of storing tools. The qU<llity of 'th.~ \VOtkl'liilllshtp is h4;hr the designs eminellit~y practice I"""a, ","unhy continuation of'the tradition.

T fl E B U I L DIN C 0 FAN An 0 N 'T8wodi


If )iOIU are an ardent collector of hand woodworking tools" you probably already keep them in a traditional tool chesr, If not, finding one is likely hlgh up on your 'wish list, Unfortunately, chests in good condition and of an efficient desi sn are not only hard. to come by but 'expensive, too .. But instead of discouraging you, let me offer a few words of encouragement: BuHding a traditional too] chest, while certa i.l1hr ti me-consuming, is not that dlffku i t OiL n u ndertaki ng. Unless you intend to do fancy inlay or banding work (which you could always add later when you feel up to ]t), you need only be fdmll]ar with bask woodworking tOO]5 and skills,

Building a reproduction of any period piece is an engrossing and enjoyab1e experience, When I make 11. reproduction piece, as the object of another era begins to take form beneath my hands l sometimes have the sensation of reaching back into the hearts and

Tim Kimact's tool C!hea~ 1$ mooered !:Iller IradillOril1l1 masler cabli'letmaker's enests of Ihe eelFll~ 19lh centory. P!'Itlto 'by Vincel'lt Laurence.

Tlm Killll<lC"·slool chasl leaILJ~~s

eXIle f\Si1J9 iI1IW8'. crolcl'i walnUI veneer and a ,sliding drawer lill. Piloto by Ray Fisdle:r.


eli I'TEIl. TWO

minds of the craftsmen \\I'O:!o first built th~ piece. This experience deepens as r li'lrnv down ttl sha pe the V31'UOm, psrts using on lry hand tools-perhalliii because .it g:u""'_"S me the time [ na>ti to observe hrnv th~ element'S of the' piece go togceher, \lVatchillJ; d,osel)', 1 can see ht.lw the various components of the piece proportion the:mscIv..."S elegantly and hacmen iol,ls.ly wuth one enoeher, [ admit, too, thm l relish the'ep~phany that ,$()JIIe-rimes romE:-'S jlii doing .reprod ucnon work 1 Jow thtltsmkll'n gut

u nd'erstand(ng of why SOITl(;!cflu·ng was done' ln a certain way.

While for me these experiences are often reason enough to build a period! piece, there is at least orne strkdy p:raaiul 'r'ea'5oltl, thse migl'n;t eneice you to go to the trouble of b~dld ing a traditioila[-styJe t001 chest: Sucha box offers you one of the most sect! re '~ys to keep a nd to transpor1t a cherishedset of hared teols, ln size, shape, and construction, a trad itloaal joiner's c~t is id@all)' suited tiO tMs purpose. And even if }'QU intend only to display your '~ook a classic csbinermsker's or machinist's ehel.'t offers )'OU the most auehencic manner tn which to do 50.

In the JCSt of this c:ha~)tC'r, you'11 see ho\,,' fi\J\1:! different woodwork .... rs Wl.'I'Dt about creating traditional-type tQolool)les for themselves. None, however, is an Itxact copy of'a survl .... ing periodpiece. This means the: bo~s are reprodacnons not in the strict sem;eofth~ word, trutin, spirit. Just as the toolboses of old were designed to s\'l,itthC'irowl'i~, these five cxarnplcs have been designed with special fitting.'ii, Unil!w:: int~dor layouts and original decorations to SIJ it the needs and. fanci.to'S of their makers. If you decide to make one of these boxes, you don't have to I irn it you rsel f to tile exact d~ign shown here. Don't be afraid 1;0 malt€'

you r toolbox your own,

A Cabinetmaker's Chest Builtwith Hand Tools

Fmish c:3tpen:t€t and fumi·tui'e m.a~1' Ti m 1< in:i1I.ck, of Simi. Vaney, Ca1ifu~n!ia, .. dded to the chiillU~n:ge ofbllild~nga. ;;;."PiCJJ~ 'early ]9th-cell:lt!I;IJry :m~ster

;.Jbjn~tmakklr·s che:stby using only band

• '"'Ols to do so, Though he lost track of his b oues 3iW:r oouftl'hng 00 250, Ki.1I'iIlI:lcik

.gm:ecl~:hat he pmba.bly put aft least

.lOCI hours ifl'IDth~proj,~ct. Wb:y did h.~ lo~t? Much of his inspir.Iltion came from the lI1'il3g.ni:fi<CQt:lt Studley tool (best ($ee me photo on p, 76); aftervtewin_g it. Kimack C:U]l~ mwy COnVlnGOO that he

W to own .a similar box, Kinlack also

iik_:.d tle~d.eili uf uiSlng his cherished ro]iertion efhand tools to cra~t elegm:ut and secure sto.rnge rort:hose wok So, ]~ the c.raft5<men of aM, he accep1ted the Ch9Ji!e[lge of buik:lirlg. his OWn tool. chest, and. th.e ~'Sui.'( ~;S S~10WI'I in the ph(J~o on the f,acillg p<!~,

[1'1 d!tSi{;ni.ng his chest, K:imack stuck do~lyto the liradition~llaj'Ot!t of an ,eaiJ.y ] 9 dl«,lltUry c<lbinetmaker's CJI~t: three wells in the botltOn'J. of the box. one each :rotbench, spec~ilI1ty andi mQI.dling planes; aslidil)g ti II 'Of seven drawers lcOl'llStl'uc.tOO u~illg hJ'l~f~blii1d clovetaii~) r~nI!!ingon.a ledge fr-om the front t-oth~ baLk of the bo!K; and a till tor ~av.':S :r~!it~ng a:g,;l:inst the inside front. for an imp~i~ de:co[;ative effect. he designed his own unique pateern o:fi:nlaicl maple

fo.rg~d iron handl~ are sel into SCYlpted w,alr!!Jt Ibkicl!;;s Oil the &ide6 o111he chest PhOto Ely Hay figcher.

bandi~p <lInci bl[JrI <Ina crotchwalnut veneers, snd createda tot8li of ] 8 false flron,ts 011 tll.e shd:i[llg till fuC~'il. He finish.oo this interior wood .. vork with many coots ofh.::md-rubhed tung aiL

Uk~ most hui~ders oftrndjtionill C8binetm~~r5 chests, K:irrmck chose to use 'I..dde p1ne !)I.anks for the carease, jo.im:in,g theM 3·t the Corl1€T'S~ ... itll through dJovet!lill~ OIJfQ!)lJlld Oil bottom also made fromp~lle planks, H~ made the top and oottom ski'rt beards of soHd wa~nut". mt~edng them a.·tthe corners, H~r, unlike't!:!e skinin.g joints on most tnM(Htiorml chests, Klmack. illliSe'r~&:I mock dovetails aceossthe rnit'l;l;r-a dl1:oornti~, ~(5\:'(ll.li2', tednntque for ensering a tigh~ IDH~t john. TIlough thfs jOJ nt is rarely seen ill ~1edoo \'>'01:k ~probab1yboo:it:lse

irts seclll'm.ty depends so much on th~ streng1!h of the gl~le h.oidil'li1l t:h~ mock dovetail in pL:aoeJ, ~t is ettcSy to peodece with. hand tools. Modern glue'S ~rl5ure that t1!. '!.>ron'lt; ~oose~]. ove.rtime. Kim.aci. ellt the mock dOl.ll'etl:!H wii:dl a handJsOlw and dGallSd cut the slot 'I..dth a P~:I"jng chisel. The sidebar on p. 26 shows. how

~o maR a itlrux:k...aQVetaU mit:er joint

usin.g atsble-rnouaeed router.

Whi I~ Kimac:k paintedlhe outsid~ of the pinli;: ease , ..... jth milk paill.t, he <l:gain deviated snmewhat trQm, traditio.n by war!'lish~ngthe sikiirtboards. ]t seems he jlJls'~ couldn't bring hims~lf 00 hide that 'bea~tifuJ lI,\IlIlnru:t H~ also lavished :atteTltion on the side' handles, ca.r"~ng g!OlcefuJ chillm:fu·m; in the b]O!;ks end ha,nd-loI"g'ing shapdy handles.

Kumack's magnifiCf1'ft chest TIm .... houses his firn.e Ila:nd-tw.! collection. 8Jnd. <1150 offe~ <I s.arn:pJ~ o:f his sk.iii~8 to potentia] dierut:s., For 1,imseJr.t:hCl: chest is an unending seuree oJ pride and inspi:roti.on to do high.~!;Ia~ ity\,vork

~r IUd) i1i' 1.0 N J\ L· ST Y L E. TO 0 L C .I-l£ SOTS Tiwodii


Out mock dolltefaillion1 aleJl'g~hot harcIwoCJd, se:Uing ,eng's ot ,S'dges (:0' mOl'1'i;h r;jn Oiflglr; ..

The mock-dovetal ~ miter joi nt is easily cuI; on a t:abk~ mounted router Rued with a dOV{'taH-eutt:ing bitand a shop-built slidi ngLtl rrilij;re that holds the assembled ski'l'"t boards securely at a 4S~ angle to the table. l'!egin by cutting the rnioered ends of the skirt boards to their exact k'ngtl'l. Assemble the four boa rds using glue and damps. The addition of'screws or nails is optiollaL If YOll choose to use mSl::e'ilof2'l'S, keep them out of the area where ),Oll will cut the slot. When the llsscmb1y is dry, take off the damps and remove a~ glue residue,

Nm\' oojust the dept}, of the router tecut tile slot at the size you wish (the mere the bit protrudes fllbove the table, the larger the slot willi be), and s t the table's fence to guide rill' ~,;,~,).<JSFI" 3t ;rl)p r.lp'<;j"-~

inset. Clamp 3 piece of scrap

witb a mitered end i 1'100 the carriege and make a test cut. Be C<'iJwful to keep duo clIrriage ridingtlght against the fence a'S you slide it:along. t\djU5t the bit and fenQe um i I the slot is located where you want it. A.g.Iin note "that the deeper the cut, the la rgeT {and more conspicuous) your mod. dovetail will be.

Wlu:"ID. you arl::' satisfied wlth the sa:l:ings, set the skirt assembly against the- arriage, CucfuHy align the mitered

26 C I] ArT E R. T VII 0

corner o.f the skirting to the bottom ,edge oJ the fixture and then 5eCU re it i)-rro ~y i I'l place with iI.~ .. 'O hold-dO\Vrl damps, Run the as comhly through the hit, then lift tl'i.~ carriage <I'\va)' from the- table. Undallt'lp, shift ~ he ski rt ~Dlg to t he next comer and repeat the process,

Aftcnhe slots;'ll"\:' cu1, make the four mock dm'et.llils frOln a sing1.~ It'Dl&th of stock. Cut the side angles to match the sims you hav'e cut in the skirting. To ensure a t~ht:

Joint, rip the stock oversize on the t<iMe saw and t hen handplane it to fit. Cut the Ie'ngth

i nro lOur pieces (cllli: them over ize) and ·,Iue them into the slots. Vifhen the g[U!2' is dry, use a Scharp p!lring chisel to trim t·he mock doq~tails flush to the face ohhe skirt boards.

Mock-dove~ail miter jQil"lls art skittl;!oaJd corners ~dd ill decoraiive touch when co(li'll~as'iI"lQl woods are USl!!dl, He~e, 1he manGg!iny dovetail eonuasts mcely'l'llith

.he wainul skirlirlg. PhOl0 by

Ray Fischer.

A Mllllck~l[)ovetaill Slid.Rlg Canilage


Slot cut aro:ISS mfter la/fit


A Shipwright's Chest Built to Fly

H;ay]ng been accepted InlQ afou:r·1I...eek boatbllJilding class 3tt the Woode:rillo<lt School in I~rook li n, Mai:nt', Superior' Court Judge 1}j[J Tinfley, Qf1'l,Icscm, Arrimn~,rei'll~:t!loo he- wmdd ueed 00 bu lld a toolbrn! to C<I,ry h~g tools across the continent. A:fter some research, he settled 01[1 a design of an 18~05

ship" .... righfs box whoseplsnswere

pu h~ished by Roy Und~rhil1 of Colonial W]ILmsbu~g,.. Tinney thenpreceeded to modify the o\llerall. dimensions, not CMl1y to fit the tools he was JeLJJlJi~Il;'t! to b:t.~ng to the boat school, but also to accomencdste the baWgt':>ize-

Ii m ~tations sec b)i'oommerc lalal sllnes ..

Afi:€'.r Jru:1TiI.e he"£lita.tiOll'L, TintlLey decided to build the case sides a:!U.d top, as .,Wi.>]!:'IS 'the inside 'tmysofthe 'box, from a pri:;re piece of 16-in. wide 11l3hoganyi'Le'd ~n treasiIJfi'n.gfol·ye-ar~. even th.ou,gh i.~~V35 ,I much fll.m::icr wood! man the 'whi1De pine '~sedby the of.igjm'll maker, 'firlUl£Y justi6:ed his choice by th'il1ki.ngof<!U the walk he v,l'{)lIlcl be puthng into d1e box and of 0,0\\1' he \',nuld 'IX_~SU 1£ its usa over tile- years.

5; nee it 'takes the same effort to bu ild w.ith ch~p weodas ",vtth rare and

beauti F(jJi \~, he figu,K:.d" why not use the lau~c:r and enjoy it?

After observing hew,' ~gg;:lge 1;:; hafLdied! ilt .lil'ports, Tinney made anoehcr moo,i:fiation to the design: the add ltlcn of three steel re'LnfoKiL'lg bolts across 'the gra]tl of thetengue-snd-groeee beechwood IlOQr; Thi~ liei I1Iforc~melu: keeps the floor of the bID: from breall::iing th.rough from die "\leight ofthe tools, no

!Bill Tin l1ey'ssnip. wrigtll"S chest was d~~ig 1100 10 conlaiil iboalib!Jilding tools. A r&i~irrOlIl1lWrlldJ. IPane~ to!;! pr~rlIIS $~iUlfi'l (above), Olher {eallires 'include a ~ray with fotd<!G"WI handle al1ldl a slidmgl tnreeodr.aw.er 1ill (rigl1tl. Ph(l~os by InlEm.atiol1~1 PfI{)tQQI~hil::


1" R ;\ D I TI 0 N A 1. • STY LET 0 0 L C H [ S T S Tawod i

Reinforced F~oor

Hidden lece"\'ilIf9CeiVEj'.s 1;0" ,a1';l·cfwasheT-

Saw He t al ne r

Top part of catch tum:!> to /(;Ie"" $OiW tU'Jrl(:J~ in plotiC9-


m.atoc-!' how roug,hly the boo: is handled, A~ ]"Q\iI ~,1Il see in the dra.\.vlng a.oo,~. the ends of the belts arc covered ~ the ~o'wer skirt lxlal"dL Tinney also designed his 0'I,,'r1 spril"lg"loodoo S8'W l\e~ainers. s.!;O'wn in the d:rn111\iing at J~ft:. to hold. his. assortment of handsaws to the underside of th.~ lid,

Tin ney desigrlOOlhe interior oftfi.e OON:1I10t only to fit his psrtieular

assort rn.e!ll; of tools, O!Jllt also 1:0 $lJlit h.rnv he would beusing d'l.em tit the beet school. Fin" he designed the wd[ in the bottom of the .00% to be just deep en.ough to dear h is planes, Then he covered the well with <!! tray fu<ltu:ri ng .~foklj-dmvn handle that "Mould aJlol!l the unit to convert qru idkiy into iJJ hand tote fur Cllr:yingan assonmellit of tools .. Anhe schoelhe could haul ehis tote up intI;) a boot under construction, then return

the tray wth~ !XliX !lit ehe end of each workday. A til ree-drawersliding till

fits ben .. een the tray <Ind 1!he top Hd (dt:i1r:ing the sa'WS). The ti i[ ]$ na.rrO'\o\' enough to slide back OIl]dfonnun the

brn.:, allowi ~ ::'I~~. to the mnd planes

in the wellbelow;

Buildinga Masterpiece Tool Chest

When you understand thilit Tony KQnovaJoff. of llel1ingham, W<1shin,gton. O<tl~ made 3. H ... ! n.g builcli ng Shak~r-t}'pe flj rnutllr(:" en;t~[\d~' b-y hand, it is riot too sUl'pd~in.g~oO lea m tn,ij.t he bu iit a most impms.siv~~oo] chest 'with hand tools on I}" The chest, shown iuth.", photos on the fucin.gpage. is made prl mari~ of hlacl Wa~tIITI~ and C\')n·tt1lih~g more thilli~ 4(10 1001 s-one;l~y all thetools of his, trade, From the outsidc::, IKoflOWlo~:s ~OOIbox is :sin:i ibr in shape a nd si.%ft 'to a lart£ ISth"lX"ntlH"Y cll!bin~tmakds chest, but inside-there lIrern1l1lJ)' s~~nif&cant. illteraltofisW the tradltloeal de~ig,n_

Tile most ~.mmed'iM:dy ebvioas des..ilgn deviation is: t he II,Inl,lls~llIl orientation of the drswsr hl~&-thiCy slide across from side to $udewi1th in the- bolo: mther than from front to oock.Why thls ch<l!~ge? After ~'r!Ork:ing \,;'dh a tr.:ld.iti.(m::lll~ll'l: for a few ye'<lr"S (<lind hati ng itt), KOflO'\llllloffdecidl.:.a ,that narrower tills would bind less tin an wider frol1t40=00ck tins, 3 nd tha:t they 'I'.'Oldd require only ooe hand·1;O mlllluptliate. H~ ... ':as bred oi~ con.st~lld}r h3l,1'ingw withdraw ti Us enUrel;, from the box to makethem easier to access. and then b~l<1Jnci.llg them preG'llriou.$ly on r.he: coruer or thcOOx or on his tool bench. Afterworkil1g wi.th the .a'Lew box rol' a tiel ... years now, he feeJ3 the ch<lTl.ge illl orlentacion ", .. as il good idea. The side-to-side trills <!II'e deA.l1itely much etIsi.er tti-gl:'t itl.to, and they telild to st~ in the boxwhere the}' belong..

In<ldd~.tion, these tills, which. iI['e smaller than 'Wl!l.stmditi,Q.nal,I~\re-ample room £Or another in!"!O\'\il!t:ion: lift-out sharpening 1I11d. d.riU t.oi'le5 UK-'1? thetop photo on p, 30). TO! get <It thetools stored in the bottom '!.',rell, Konovotoff removes these boxes andrea.che.'> down between


e slidingti~k The 1~ft-{llrt boxes are rma ~~}' removed at thebegin Ili~.ng of a -rical'N'Orkday and set next to the

est, At the end ofthcy d;ry, th(;:yre the ~~ items: 1!0 be returned to the box.

In >"I?t a.l1ot.h£r departure from ditiona] Ch~t.sl Ko:t:lov.:JI ]off cffiartEd rage for rnal]r of his most f'l'eq'llendy

:"<{_ d tools ]ndC'p(."lIld!~nt of 'tills ort:l'ays, ;lL1~ he \,lfaS gn]llg matte[l1lpt ·~o 1IlIiI.a.bJ~ ~ living workillg out of this tool chest. of hisprime dcsiga1J objDr:tivrs whcn tin~ it was to make the ~ools.;lIs

dHy accessibleas possjble-s single

-d motion 'I'IIas the goal,

Beneath the Hfl-Ol;II;~,

vknives and spok~h,ave.s, hatl:£ Oil

hes. at one end W.il.~1 ohhe box while lTIl r'Jlarking knives <lind a straightedge _ alung tilt: back board., (Aloo

~ on perches when the Hft-out

es arc removed a rea 'folding rule, Ii.I

Tony KQnO\l'aloff's loo~ ch~sl holds mOl!! Ihall 400 tools .md weig1l$ cl:QS.{f IQ 400 lb. when ~lIlIy !(laded. In 1ih;a phQt() al len. theUlls

i:lild ~es ha'\l~ bean lined oot tiJ,.lte 1na

drill 00", !shown open at right). Pl'iOIOO by Virmef1ll Let! renee,

fra m,irlJ,g square and the beam of a panell:nafki'll..g g,auge.} At: the Q1!l.er end of tile bes KcmOVl'lloff placed a ,,\.'lde'l'atiet}' of chisels, their handles set ulJY.dght and imrnroiat£[y accessible, Since the blades a,l'en/t visubLe, he has to rely Om memary to ,grab the one he wants.

In a d.ep<lilriurEl fmm Irlldilion. the lil~ ;\Inc! bo~s in Ihis, chestslid'.a side 10 side, creating ~J$y <lCC'e'5$ tQ ~Iile bottom of 1 he bow. Th~ La,1lin motto "Art endures, lire les shorl" ~$·a m!irlg le&1ament 10 Ihis lengthy, pains!ak,ing proiJjeltl_ PiholO by Vincerlt l<wrara.

'lj'RAIJIT~ONAI.."S·TYlE TOOl. Cl-l['5TS

Lin·out t:K:oo!g (aOO'lie} MIdi a \i'arie~ 01 ~nI'I811 hancl 1001'S: note the fr,encn'~iUf:d tray at leU. The MllOw lid (night} eterss 15 S1I1I'IS •. IPfloros by vincerr~ L8ilm~nOe.

Fil~ a ll~f. take .... look il!t the inside of the chest's ho]lmvli,d (S'!.:'eth~ p.hotoa~e). \1ifhi.lr you (}(casiGll!aUy see hoikl<w, or even double, ~ ids i l1~ooiti()lli!l chests [seethe botrem phOM on p. 16], it is rare to see one ~hm:t coatains this number. and vari~ty of saws-there are 15 mOUllted here~ To sUp'POD'~ the \\~igh1! of this s.m ... I"studded lid. I(cm@WIloff.added.:l pn~r of sty roy hinged supports 'to the 'ba,ck o.f

th~ boK. Wh~.I!! Hdi jj.llIp~rl:S are

u ndou b1i:ooly8. '~~f1,Jl1 &aJ1;ure in. alJjI'

~ ldded bos to prevent 'the hil1ges from pulling cut or racki fig, it's surprisj_n~ h.ow ra re~y one sees tn,em. in trnduHonal boxes. Wi'len you do 1i:heyareQften oi11h! in the form of a n~['row ledge, which, because it acts, as a flll krumf'or dil,e- stress as<;:i:ns~ t he- .hi~"e, .often does more harm than geod,

:3(1 C ~i II. I' T E. R T \";f 0


U~e Tin) :w: inl:;'lck~ Tony Kortrn':i<lloff $topped oounting his construction hours ruft~r about the fill'st 250-ilrt te last th~ ages ohvi.ously takes time. BUI; art ' .. ·(;m·t happen ~t all podl WU!l!.lke the first step" and fur Kom:;valoff thm:t meant layi[l~ (mt a.1~ du2' hm.nd, t:oo~;!; he used in fu rnit ure b1,litding ~'Q d~rmine h.m v hilg aches.t he WDy]d need to contain 1!hC'nl, hl essence. [(on:Gwloff dt'Sigru~d his 'box from tbe

i [Isiae O~II:.

It is iilittres1!il)g,. though flQt S1lrp:r.~si~. to note 'the size of the box KCII!lUll':ai ~off , .. unnd!.:lp with: 2:] %: in. wide by 3950/11; ill. l.{lng by 2.2%i!.~ .. highdifnensil)lls tha:t are well with~ n 'ther3l'lge·oJ:I number OflliL(-'{)5Urod t:l'<lJitjcm.a~ cahinetm,al\ier's. chests (seethe discussion Ofll~· ~,J J 'J~ determi!1:e the footprint of tha box (dw "lfidth and length), he la ndolJit the h~lld planes ilJjlld Qd-~~r ~:iI.~ tools that would'boe k1:.p1! in th!i: bottom \'1Il:I], neshng them closely to miTIlj'mi2il! the 5pa(~ th\:.'j' \owuld take up. (He represented the dividers wiIth I:f~asl;.jn.g tape.) The ~~Ilside heighli oJlh.e frotil:l c:asoe h..ad to be ae least ] 6 i'n.ellOughfor trne St'lIf11.d~ rd. fr.1l m i1'J:g sql[l::JJre th<Jit \''llQuld ~l(lng <Lgain~tut,

KonovalQff had ttl takell-'!IO t:hi'fllgs into oo'lil:;;i,detation ... ~·lltel'l he d~",elopt.'<1 the s~;.oJe of the two slid~ ng tull§;, The fir~t \1'i!aSthe siztofthe tools the)' would .c;()I]'il;t3ln. Thl2 second "vas ehe amount of room he nsOO&II to le!'lIve betweenthe oPPOSuI1g~~lh,~Q ai~Q\,\' him~Q lift hi~ lar:~t tool, a 1t 7 joi:rllte'f plane, out of the bottcmwell oOft.h.e chest; Once he knew how much space he had to' leave between the t\'>'Q tills, :he designed the I ~ft-Q'U!t sharpeniJ'I.g and drill bro:es to fit. He .WlS t1Iwful to leave room fur the r.:i.ck of chlselsaadthe peeches for 1ihed[.;jjwknife and spokesheves. FUnall;,. K(lIlO\";llioff ~;ignfd the size OnndlV'iduul drawers Mthi IlJ the tills to conta i:nl cermin gt'Dupil1gs of tools.


A" Cfi~~! P!liil'M' are % in. rM()k eMDep.i whefe' R(iUiG!. Drawer sides afa '~ ffJ. Mfcl(. Olrtd dmw.er bO'l(:OffllS: <!I'e :ita in. thick, Si;ll~' drawers to 5'1.#t y<wrl!lI!'ii~ds,.


H .... IIl·d$aw$ 8te nt.r(lQl G." msirie ol.1M and O\i'i! '"ne!dOOl.

~nside (!i~ch.est. 18'k in. by 181A1 irl_ by 36% in.

From arlid bacik :s~:o;ps.

't~ in. by ;1/-:1 irl. by3S'IJs in"

B3~k of i idl frlinrle, 3%l in. by 39% iWl.

fOp drawer hinges up lor olCCe$$ to drawellb~n€1at1}.


FPxeri f(aly fir; screwed ee 'fOnt and b.u;;iI( of ~s1: OI$l!lJ)'


Ud pllnel, 2071ein. by 38% ln, "\', Width ow

~ Me hInge


.... ...!..,_

BJ;lt!'OnB: 8rlSGil' ~op !panel

to fid'sbaQk ti':ame·, Rram~ ant! panel iMer doo~. Uehe in. by 3:8.1116 in.

PaJr1itiorn Ir~!}

Hand!es ltwo on ~ac'h @:nd~


[lMill box

Ch~s;t ends, ~9114 ill'l. by 20 in.

ISQlt;om, % in. by 19 ~11. by 37 il1. -----

T R. A D [ T W N r\ L • STY I.. I:: TOO L C H f S T S "fa:woc:lli


Tony Kon()l,l'aloff bu ilt his box ex lu. i\'el}. 'with hand tools, foUffill'ingthe oidrashioned procedurecfcumna and futt~ng one pi(;"Ce at <I time. Vfh(:<n 'WOrking with modern po .... rer tools, it's t,'C'llcrolly more dficicnt to cut oue aU the pieces at once, but with hand tools, there is no particular advantage to ui Ilg pl"ocim;:tic;m-style techniques to prepare or mill the-wood, The instructions that follow assume that ynu will, li:kit KOflova~off. bu ikl this box 'e)ldusivdy whln, 'hand Ixmbi., Yourn<lY, of COUnl~, lIS~ powertools wherever you like.

Msking "P the ease

After determ ining the overa 11 "i2C' ()If the be and 'its interior t1ttillg5, sketch out \'allri,Qus aspects ofth~ box. When }"Q1J are happ}t with the design, you can begin consrructien. CliOOS('" boards r'Ol' the sides. of the box a'nd ed~I'L1,{!' them 1;0 width, Hand-plaac ehem flat wlth a scrub plane and then finis.h the beard's surra, w1th a smoothing plane. Next" plow grooves {with a cumbi nation plane} nell I' the base of the side and end boards to accept the oottom panel. To. br~llg, ooth visual and ph':l'S~Ci!illightness to the box" )'01..1 ca n make thispa nel y P of several edge-joined boards of Ii,ghtcolored a ~d('1",

The next step us cutting the throughdovetail corner joints. Cur the t3~1.· first, and trace (hem ito mark ut til(: pius, Trim the plns to f'rl; between the ralls ."ith rasps Ibllowed by files, then dry-fit the sides together around the bottom

psncr, ~1,r1fl1.:'''ll you 3[,.(:' .fiapP,ywiUl the til:"

reassemble the 1)Q)o;, this time usins Slu~ ifllihe corner jornts a nd in the middle area of'thc bottom pa n el (so it can shri nk andexpand in its slot: from either-end]. Insert notched cauls under the cttHnp pads to hold rh dovetail joints ti ·ht-see the drm''>':illg above, Chock diagol'lel

32 Cl-!IAI'TER T\I\'O

Side of bO)(

Mii klo,g and i nsmLling: th@ dm'''''e:r tWOs ,and othe:r s,t'o:faIge fI.'litl ngs

Begin """{)irk on the chest interior with the bottom well-a 3-]11, high fr3Jm~\lI/Ork of dadoed parutions sized to fit precisely within the box. Then make up 3Jlld

in' tall the a rrar of h "mger!> d'esigned to hold ya:dous tools. finally, build the rotlT drawer tills, the two open trays and the two reln()l,'OJJb~e boees, Constmcc these all

in si mg Itlr' rushion: ha nd.dmreta ired sides joi ned amU!lel a beveled 00ab'fC1 i nserted ineo a .1'10\",00 gfOO'I'€. To support the tms in till! G1!Oe. screw guide rails into the front and back of the case, 'ore that

the top tray on the right is H11!oo perml1llent'l~r into the box and the top '~ru}' on the left is hin!J.->d.o the


measurements to ensure tha~ the chest i~ .iI bsoh.lteny 's;qua re before setting it aside todr>',

RemD'\l'e the caS€' damps OI1~ the glue has set and then cue the bottom skirt boards to width a nd thickness, Cut the t.:lld pk""t:~ to lC'llgtt. :'ind fl'l.1J<e the pins. Attach these pieces to the box. by drivi.ng in screws from the interior of the box. WOI,ko ng i rI d!l is order wi.1[ hel'p you aocltra.1i!~r)· fay oun: t hoe ta ifs on the front

and. b<lck skirt boerds and 'will ensu re that these pieces \,vi 11 fit tight ly to tile G15~ after you cut these' iolnrs, NO'w cut the tails and insta11 the skirts to the case, also screwing til m in place from the lnslde of che box.


C radl ing yO"IIJ'ftcmls in 3 french-fitted drawer or . ray is 8n excellent "\lay to ,~ow ~"Our love forthem. The

lose-fitting oompartmerus ,;t. .... 'P the tools from mlJing bout and d:a.lflagi"g

themselves and their eighbors. E\ en if the drllwer to knocked lIJoout 01' uhed

lmost on end, the tools wi.ll ,uy s:1Ifdy in place. Best of a~ I, Frcnch-fltting is. not all that -nysterious OJ:' hard to do.

Begin by cutting thetool rd to s1z,e fmm :I piocc€ of .lear %.in. thick weed or ardwooo plywood .In most ases, the Width snd length dimenslons will be the inside

dl<lmctcrofthe drall,v€[ ~ or. far banding. Layout the tools :..)1.1 wish to carry in the bosrd, drawing their outll ne 'w:ith a.

~ndL Add a bit 'to oUO\v fur :hl' lining material (Villi in. ror eat h er, a I ittle less fur felt). Draw in a notch for a Hilger pu II near the balance point of the tool.

Drill start il1g holes for you r 1:g~W. (."Oping saw or frewn .. ,. 1'10 cut to the imide of the urlines, If you can't get into

tight corners .~·tth the ',awbl~de. file or chisel to the 1 ine, If you intend to apply

in ish to t he top 51.1 rfsce of the tool board, do it nm"'.

Nm'l' rut strips of lining m~tC'l':i .11 to t he th kkness of thetool boerd, adding about s in, rortrirnmiDig. Apply contact cement to the inside pc-rimeK'r of ehe tool outll nes

fre'n,ch-IFHted C'Omlpalrtmernt:

STEP 1: OUfUiNEHIE mOL BOARD Ol)!lil'1e of to~ pillS a tJ:aclion for matelliallinin.g




and to the materiakand then g1 ue it in place, Press the mat'erial 'imo the tight corners (use the side of a file or nal i set to app.ly P"=';S5!J1 rd as you \\'ork your w~~' around the <.~. Using 3 sharp razor blade, trim the material Rush to the top and bottom surfaces of the beard, [f ~'()U are working with leather, bevel the top ed 'e so it won't catch O~ the tool as you Jif:t it ilU,mi out.

To cut the materlalte li nc the botmm of the tool compartment, trace its shape through the cutouts, You can also skip this tcp and applly themoteri<ll to the ellltir~ .faoc of the substrate.

Next, cut Out the- '1-1-in. plY''''OOd substrate. To ~I!>('- the su bstrate ;'IS a eongve into the surrou nding btl nding or drawer box. let it protrude ?I~j,'~l', to y~ jn, all al'lOufld.

Attach. it to the tool board from below wieh 'ocre' .. 'S (and glu if you chose not to surface i~ first wrth rn~te'hi.dl rfY<JI~L cut the bottom linlngs fur csch tool romp'lI"tmellt to shape, glue these in I'olilce I"IOW.

Finililly, cut the drawer box sides or the tra.y bandl ng to Si7.£. ]n'Stail them around the completed tool board. Now you can put you r tools i III t hei r snEd), J i IIIed nests,

1" R A D I T ION II L - S r 'i LET 0 0 L ("11 ES"-:S Ta,w,odii

Lid ConstrucHoll

'liop planks fide over baclc f(8m~"


\._ Cleat fMMS into .groov,e 00 baclt:ffame.

milli,g .. dovetail pi3n(' designed specinrnlly fortlhis purpose, plane the fu~l.length tail along cr~h~r end (~ the botJtQill11 phoso On the facing psge], (Ullwrttm<lteJy, the.~ s.pecj;ll~jzed planes arc i:x:oorning hard ~ll flnd. though they are snll manufactured in Germany, Arutiqlledealers mOly have old ones while some mlliJ.nrder sources of new tools may still carry them in srock.)

Tout the matth.il:ig~rwvein the .idc 1"3 ib·, pklliM a dado [seetke top photo on the facing page), the·!) undercut the sides: w.iith:J stde rabbet plene, eyeballing the dovetail a ngle, Note in the d rowing sbeve chat the taill is offset t01l\'<Ird t he bottom of the panel. wh ich ensures that the top of th~ rai] a bove the groove will aoe be too "\Teak. After cutting the Dins in the ends ohhe-side rails, 'wax the groove, slide-the mUis in place, ilnd then mark for the t;:;Iib on the front ra il" With these ci t and tested for fit, glue t~em to the side rails and to the front edg,e of th~ pan I ..

,s1fdili9 ooll'etall fs ,offset (rom

c'e~.te-f Q'f pJ'<!rrk-s toward bOftom side.

lIndef1'yiJ)g s.iiding, dra\ver ti ~i" The tools in the h:illlged tray don't mil out when the tray is ti ked because they're held tighd'y in place in French-fiued l"OCCSSE'S, This type oftrny provides .. a w]t-or leatherJil'l.ed, dU!>L~lttil1£ OOmplll"tme·,:rt for caeh tool, ( -or details On french-fitting, see the sidebar onp, 33,)

M:alki 11g 'l.!Ip the top lid

Build the top lid much liike <I drawer by dmretai~ing the ro}[-lilre sides iI[01.~!1cl the fi09ting panel forming thehd, 1'0 allow the panel to shrink. and expand without sp~ittj_ng oedistortlag the structu[-e,.jnin it to the side rails with fuill-length sliding dovetails. Glue the panel to the f.-out rail and screw it to the back rail through a ·tongu.ea cleat. This cleat holds fh~ pane] down toth ~ raH but a.llows the former to move back aad forth.

Begin work on th lid by ,edge-gluing the-panel 1;1OCk to the neeessa ry wid.t11 and then rutting it to exact l!:'ngth. Ne tt,

,34 C 1-1 ArT I! It TWO

With the Hd a-s.sem'bled. measure For and build the frame-and-panel inner lid/door and the spacers fur att,achi~ irt to t hl."lid. Join till!' frnme with hallillched mortises, and Ho~t the panel ~n.o1. groo\<~ ploli\'eo in the ftame.

Hanging the lid

\iVith the-lid fu]l}r assembled, chisel the hinge mortis s into the 0 nside edge of the b.u;k frame andin~tall.1l:he hinges, Then hold the I id to the: chest to rna rk: the hillige Iocauens On the back wall. After cM~eling for the 11 ~Ilgt"$ on the ch~t. remove the hinges from t:helid (if they are' not the loose-pin type) and install 'them on the-chest, Then.propping the chest on your \/i/Oykbeg"l,ch, bn ng OVer the lid and Strew the hj_n~ leaves to it,

Flaa lIy. cheek t.ht operat Lon of the ]i.dI to be sure it closes over-the chest without rubbing, and that, in the open pesition, it rests (!qu:lUy on the two b3c.k lid supports. ' Qt that these supports hold

- e ltd at an angIe 2:8 part 90~. This revents th~ lid Ftom s.df",lo:!ii[~g! and .it Ids the i.nner He!:in placeevee if the' tches are undone-

To stabibze and add beauty to the 1XJd both inside a ltd out of the box,

Ix up a batch ofbeeswax al'ld boiiled ~ed oil (2 oz. ofbeeswax per gal. of 11 Once 9 day fo:r at le~s'i: .11 week brush -Ile mi xtu I'e gen("/Ously onto the wooo, bhing it in bris.kIly ""'it\} a rag (the n~.ore

eat llf!<llcra:ted from nib 0][1& the gretltc-r • e sheen). Wipe off ehe excess with a ~.a~. Finally, :il'lst.aU the mortise lock and B striker platle and bolt on two pair of '7I::1.rine-type Ib.ronze handles. (jJQ not use

re ~-they "''''O!1i'tbe strong en.ough.)

II;. Stanley side rabbet plane ~ No. 7'9) WOJkS. a dle.do IIlIIO a slidil'l\J do-velaJl groove. Konovi'illofl eyebeliis the !'il'igle.a I(lSS expenienced woodworiker oould mak\l the cui wi1ih Ihe 1001 held 10 a 91.!ide beard. Photo by Cl<lig We:~1l!r.

An UlmiO\ dovll:lail plane cut~ Ihe: slid· ing dcrvelail on the end of the lid board_ Sliding dovetails allow the p1al'llk 01 the lid 1.0 shrink

andl exp8t1d w.ilhoul SJ,plilHflQ_ PnolO by Gary Weisetl'ourge:r.

T R AD 11' ION j\ L - S T ¥ 1.. E TOO t G H E SiS "WIw,odi

Patternmaker's ar d Machinist's Chests

Sometime around theturn ofthls ·Cl;;"I]hli'}', Hem), A. L.'1gh, whU~ worki ng ,1S a pntemlffill!;er at New YQ:rn':s. Brooklyn N..,.'Y V .. rd, b1)uh: theC'hest shown ill the I)hoto a.t right 1:0 house the tools of his specialized trade. rhough similar in shape 10 a traditiona.1 ca blnetmoker's chest (a nd a bit smaller), there are, as. you Gill see, a number of disti net difful'el'lces. The most OIW101.1." is thedrawers, which 811 OpC'11 to the outside of the-chest, The materia Is and construction are ahodiIl'eT'~nt. Leigh selected oak and ash 0\ r the (i1l.ditioIl3l1 pine planks, and used fnme-and-· plIIJl.!'1 construction instead

of deveta il ed plenks to lerm the: ("8$(",

If Leigh's tocilbr.tx \.\l'efe an isolated example, }'O~I could ·\wiIW off these dcs4;n vnri,1i'ttions as idios.yn.crntic. But many other similar examples built by pauernmakersa nd machi nists (t rades that "verre IUlim:egrnl part of the ]lfldlu5.tri3~ r \ge) b,ave survived.

MQ:s~ of these chests fe~tu~ drawers !;h~t open to the outside, useFrame:lnd-panrl construction, and a'f'e conside.mbly smaller then rhe da sic cabinetmaker's chest.

Why II pateemrnaker's chests

eli f'k.rrnt? Tile a nswer I!11Alj' be fuu 11 cI by looking at 11m ... and where these tradesman l: ... erked .. By the mid-l SClOs, till' ~nC'oorhmel'lt of machine'S into the workplace was; hringing I;he er;;q ofh<lndbuilt furniture to a dose. Some

cabin nnakers accepted the i[lc\riuhlt!, brtl1.1,'htrnachinel"}' into their shops, and sblfted toward production f,mlitun: nukung. Others went 3 step fmthl'r and

:36 C DB A I' T r:. I!I: T \\J 0

round! work I'naking the machines ·thelm;el",~s" carving

the casting pattelrl1sfur the machine corapenents fl'l:ul1 wood.

vVhen these- craftSMen wel'lt 'ro \lI'Ork inth~ new facwries, they usually found that many of the hand tools they were expected to possess as iourneymsn woodwerkers were no lo~r required, Gone, fOr example, was the need for bowsaws or panel saws, hand braces, and jointer ph!tl~s-the 'IIVOl'k t ~"SNools performed was 11m", done by machine. These pa rt inlla r hand tools happened to be among the largest tools a worker might need to contain ill his chest, thdr absence allowed the use of a chest $0 Somali it could sit ODlJ its. OW1~C'r'S

This all-drawe chesl, made

by master panernrnaker Henry A. L.eigh around 1900, housed most oi

Ih8 hand tools he nlllld~ 10 practice his sp~Ci8rizlld Irad8. Though larger in seals, the chest's design is remini:srent ollne g;enll~ man's cnesrs on 61 century earlier. A lOCking fronllid, which has been removed ror this j:lhoto, covets. lhe drawer taces. lPtioto COl,lr~'f of The Mariner$ MuseLlm, l'iJeWPQTI News, \Ia.

workhcn,ch. Since the eeol chests h::u:i 110 hold ::i co]lto'lttion {]If mostly smaller ham::l toels, had no need for

a saw till and could sit at elbow height, slide-out drawers under a s.in~e ~a~ter ohraysor an open , ... rel] made

good sense,

his, 3]ro ptill:5ibll.: that the conflgtlr.alliol1. of the ·gentleman"s chests" ofthe 18th century, such as those shown in ,th~ tol) photo Oil thefiu:l rig page, may have served aiS, an i'lrIspimt:ion Jo.r pa1rternm2lke~ and machinists when they set about to des1gfltheir tool chests. These chests \V('-ft" offc-n:d in late 1700s tool catalogs. Since they are com iclerahly too'smalll fur professional tradesman, it,is assumed they were intended fur

ntlema fl\ .. ,oOOlwrken ( VifOOdw'or'ki ng 3.1; an acceptedpastime .. mOf!(g.st the ell-to-de in England}"

B~' t h.e tu rn of thi 5 centu ry, the trades t the parternmaker and machirust had ushroemed in growth-and so did the eed for tool boxes to contain their tools, ·orki.ng for industry, mil.ny craft men ad little time to build their tru'llil

• )()]bc.."«.."S,. ilnd. Sf) had to p1,lrd ase them

rom one IOf the more than 20 companies that producedthem, Of these

.:ompa nies, enl one exists today:

H. Gerstner &. Sons, of DaytQn. Ohio. \'ork il1g OlUt of the same- shop and even ith some of the original machinery.

Ger:smer and Sons makes a widevariety

f UX'II chests. Nm:ice how ~~tnu!llr ehe Gerst ner 'be»!. in the phoee a't right is 10 me chest '~hlJt [ Je[l[Y Leigh bll'uh for himself at the Navy Yard.

And ",,·hal: about that diamond!shaped 'mirror set into the lid?

C 3 binetmakers U sed to say that it 'II~'aS put there to erve the V:3.I,.ity of the pancrnmakers, ,dLO funded themselves

Ii;. COlll1memi!i3.11)' made mac:l'lili ist's 1001 chest, Nole ~he felilinifig and dli'lll1ollld·~ll~PeQ mirror, Photo eourt@'sy of H. Gerstner &80ns.

GenU!'ImIlIl's chests from Williamsburg. Judging from the &limir~.riIY of 'Iheir la,Y(lU~ .aM stybe, !hey may hare been ~he prooursor of ths FIiIaotlililisrs,~pe c>he!l11S IfIIlI app8.~red in the ne:<1 cel'l1lJr')'. Photo cour'esy 01 CdtaniaJ Williamsburg.

T R A D IT ION A L - STY til! l' 0 0 1. C H EST S Taw10dli

David Winle"s 10-drawer 1001 eMSI. mooe 'el'llirety 0'1 pecan, fealutes a drop-Ironl panel and a loo1<mg lid. Note 1M decorati~ inlay bam:ling and oak Ileal carving, 1Pti.()IO by Sandi:J!l" NaQ:l'$~'<lJanczy.

,3:8 C !-I APT E!it. TWO

ilit the top of the , .. 'ooO""ol"ll::[n& trade, Patt:ernmilikt"rs said it was there for the machinists ( ..... 110 also work out of this type of box) to tidy themselves up at the end of thdr greasy \ ... ·orkdays .. (Also, mm:hin lsts o-nen g.ot metal fUUnlg5 in their ej'C!S,. and a mirror wo~ld h~wt been h(.?lpfq,_,1 in remov:ing them JAn old legend 1>3YS that the PIJ!rp05C of the mirror \'0'315 to conceal a shallow c~l\'ity in which the triJdes~n could hide his "burying"' money. ]nde~. money has been found tucked behind a few mirrors, but. usui'lily ilJn~y eJ:iI.o1.ijlh to buy a fi'fth of gl[l., not ;3 casket in ",ihieh ,the CI'aftsman cculd lay himsdfout permanelldy.

Building a Machinist's-Type Chest

The mess. of tools a nd junk I,ring 300ut his shop inspi·red~.rooclv!,-omer D<lvid \l\i1nter, of A~ len, Texas, to otg;! nize his sma ikr and m.ore d~l·ic:ate tools. ~]!'Ivi ~ St.."'tt.l don buildil\gsome kind onocking box with an ample num'bcrofdrnr\'\;(!I"S, he began by mocking up a number of

sea led-down versicns i n an attempt to come up wlth a p!'ototype. lt didn't take long for Winter to rea ti:re that the best way to house "his ~maU, fragile and e.n;yto-lose tools was in a il;r;aditional-st)nle 'machinist's chest. Three boses later (the'first 1;\\'0 becsme Christmas presents for his fath.erand brother), Winter bad his box: a lO .. drawer chest built from O\~r 40 bel. ft. of solid pecan. The box, shown ~n the ph.ota at left. features solid brass ha.rd"ll.'!I(Ijre, a drop-front pa1:1l.e.t that 'sUps under the bottem drawer when lJlotilil use, and a locking lid over a tool , ... rell deep enough to contain not onl)' plancs but a collection Qffingeriointed boxes cOllt3li.ning drill bits sud other sma Ii i1i:ems as weill



Though II typicai machlnist's toolbox

ks complicated to build because of e formidable number of d:imilll~th rawers and dac tricky-lookl Ilill sappesrl n.g drop-down pa nel, Winter nd that with some' careful plan ning

I the construction st('JIS could be roken down into a seri~ of

Ta igll'ltfonvud ~dulles. To add beth rc ision and f:fficien.qr to the plJl"OC('SS,

made templates and jig setups fur tting identical cornpo.l1eni:s and

... rmi rill joints,

His first. and perhaps most

mportant, task \III'as to make a. TU U«'31e raw}ng of the front and side of the 00'1{ see pp, 72-75 for d("tai.ls on creatillg fuU~

~"'31e renderings). Drnw:ing 00 fu~ I scale, \~ !'Iter was a ble to double-check the ign to m3lke su re, fOr example, that 'he top rails that: defined the '!leU were igh eno-ugh to enclose his .ha.l'ld planes "l'Id to provide-room for the lid stay rdware, The drawing ~ pp, 40-41) al'>O plovhlltd. 'him ",o,f~th a faU-safe cthod {l'fes.tabl.ishing the cutting dimensions of all the parts,


Once- J'OU have a fllll-salle .re~ril1,g o:r

he chest you intend to meke, you csn

• hen develop your cut I ist and get right down to work, Start by cutting the carcase, gettingollJiI; tile foHowing parts to the~r spedIfi&l thickness, \,,,[d!th,~md. length: the bottom board, the 1i:\/iIO.,end

pa nels, the int arior patlition panels, and the front and l'ear l1lib.

li\.'lilli~g the rom~Ol!leJiib

• tartil11\ withth.e- boteom bossd, dad{_), one gl'oove to receive tile tongue or the drop p;3Jll{!1 ii nd snoeher to reeetve the back p;,'lnel .. Th,en cut hQ]es fur the assembly dowels using a doweling jig, 'Iou can also choose to use biseu it joinery

CU1 ~,h8 :sjo,pped s'lidingrdOVE!!ail groove on ill tablemounted I'OUI'EI eql.llpped with a oovetail bit. The same ~outeF·t1!ltJIle sa'uP. with Iii stflljghlt bit, is used for mak. Ang groove~ 10-1 dr.aw.er gutd~s and cadces kir partilions. Photo tJ,y Craig Wesler .

to assemble the case components Gee pp. 8~.86).

Mov1ng·QllW tIle side panels, cut grooves to .reo~ive the sliding dovetails Oil the end of frorlt a nd rea r rails. The photo at top right shows what this setup looks like on a table-mounted! router; ext drill holes for the asse-mbly dowels after marking their locatio:llsfm.llll 'l:h.e centerlmes of the dowel holes on the bottom. board. Returning to the- table-

Reml sltdfng dovelails On lhe ends of 11'1131 rails, using a ver~gcall caniage 10 move ~ne· wod::pJece PEl5t Ihe !"Outer bit, IPl'toto by Craig Wesleir_

mounted router-this time fitted with a straight bit-cut the blind grooves to roecei!l'(,! the drm .. er guides and the nori;r.ontlll pertitions, To ensure precise 3ilignment. cut the grooves for each drawer I~ v el b€fon: Dltovil'lg thefuJfi.cc

s t-u and setting stops to Ii mirt the leng;th of the greoves. You can also !JS-e this: setu·p fe. cutt ~ng the guide grooves ]11 the \IIcrtic.aJ dMders of the interior partition assemhly


Vertical dM<ler

BQltOnfi of secondary frame, 't~ in. thick

Outside dl mansions of che::lit lex.olllJdrngllid);2'6~4 in. tang by 11161/11 Iligh by 107/e wide

40 C 1-1 A If' T E. R T \1'10' 0


j 1 '14 il'l. ,r .'"
I.. 3jI~UIl. T
I 125fU;1I11. "'II~, 671ain. -i I-- 4'&t16 ili'l.- l_

l%in.-f ~ 0
flla in. - Q Q 5~!(I'i",.~
13t8 in. ~
161{e in. 1%in .. ~' 0 0 1/4~r
Hern" - 0 Q ,
1l'/a in. ~, <;I 0
I f Q Fro
I( 2:3;8Iil'1l.- I5ta ln. sl
I "j_
.1 l "
1-- ..! 25114 in, _I
! ntpanal o:rage

I 1-04-------------'260/41 in" ---~-------~-~-I


GIe'ararlCE! hole for #4 s¢:f$1,I'aIwi'!h '/ .. -ln, Iby l/a-in. deep c;ourntersirnk, Ihree places



- ---' _'_ - ---

Fro nt If ,fH'ud

$plin~ 1'~4 rin. by '1 % in. by '/8 in, (four Iplaces)

11~i~, by

''''It 'Ihick

Nate: R~-aT ~mjl ha,s!l~ fn floating pane' Inserted in yroow 11'1' ;lame [~e penm.e«w.

BuildmnQ lip Liid t htcknaes

1. Rip fiJ.d:gi.Ii'gs .\fond ,~ds 2. Plane what~ le,fl to

from "4-In. sto~k. If.;.,.m" thicJ:nS'S.9,

$, Rip, edgings to ,boftom and glue .in ,pJar:e.


Side gr-ain to sid:e gm.lll1

Aftercuttil1g the slots in the two vertlcal d~vlde'.iSW (~:ir\l',e the dra'lllll6 guides, rabbet t.he edges ofi.he t\!f() horlzente] p3:ttiti.ons 'to fit the g~s in the carcase pieces. Then cut shallew dadoes to accept th~ vertical dirricJ.e.rs. Nm .. • go on to attach the dnnllfe"l guides to

these vertical dividers whth ~re\\\!s,countersunk: S,O they don't jnterfer,~ with drawersides and sl~ to allow the

d.i ..... tdor to mO\l'e if i.'I: swells or shrinks.

Now you OIR jojn the pan:irtioru; to one ... nother, cbmp:ingthem. upsqq;JIare before driJ!l'ing the pilot holes for th -

42' C H j\ PTE R TWO

, 1

12'13 in.

assembly screws, Brace theasse:mbl)· square with ta, st:i.ck tacked diagOillallly 3,C:roSS the case, l~t-fitti['bg the thme small df<j!\versb~tween the' vertlcsl dir'!i':udQI'S. (Note that it is ~aSiier to make adjustments to the g'1!l[d~ before'the pa:niltiQIl a~mbi), Is pe.m.anendy installed i.nto ti:1.e'caseJ

Aftl2r. dou hl!X~"kirll:g that d.e front and rear rails 01((' cuttothe same iength (andro,the slzeshown 01'1 your l'Ie!:lderi:ng). cut the sHdhlt1!; dovetails on t:he router tab.~e (see the ~ photo, On

po 4]). Use tile same lift tnaJt (itJIlt :the receM!/illggl"OOY~ in. ehe side p;tnels. Note thst the sliding dovcta.Hs are offset from the ce!!"lre11~lie of the ,mrl W\"lr,uu tile ~m~lde of the C~ll. c,onfig,um.tiO:fi that, st~ngtth@ns the outside corner of the side' p<lnel- Ne'xt cut <I slot in the front rojJ IUJd a mbbct in ,the back ran ttl

rt'Ceil!ethe topkmDn:t.J _\)))

board. While the raiis an! f1OC-'-;1nd thus ~aS"y'l"ll' hold in:3, vise-m:ilkethe mord~ for the hd lock mechanlsra in the: frontt taw,", the elearaace hole fu,]'the lock key; and the nd[ef mortise for the Jock escutcheon. NO'I.'l'take' the fJl'iOI'i.'Ii raj[ to the drill press to d.riUl:he holes for the pair of frollt.pa1il~ Lock assem blies. Fill;a:!lY1 -m8~ the relief mortises for the butt hinge leaves on the hack: raj[,

M~k1ng th,e.Uoot and tie-air paneils Make upthe dro:p-<lown FfOIiJit panel (see th~ dn"vi.ng ~oo.re-lJt) and the fixed rear paaels of the case, c-uUing the frarne-endpanel m.embers slightly overlong so you i;ftn late. trim them to fit the dryassembled case pt:rle-ct:ly" Use splines both to join the butts of the .rails and sdles <lind :1)0 at.tach 1ihe flusMlront panel to Us frame. Dado the lnntr edge of th~ ira,me of the mar panel to rnr:~i.ve itsIDin reo~ pa,n~L Having,glued ",P the mmes"":being 'carefu] to get themsqua.re and 1!0 ~ft'P glue off the paaels so they wit[ float f~l;r in their frnmes-set thf!m

• d ry_ ~ter, send the joints of the Flush.

e next seep, dry-assemble the case ;;u'"dl.ll1;Q damp il; sqeare) so you

t and trim the front and rear 1'l:a~e1 1 ies to size. Thenremove tile back nd c ... t the 'slots for the sp]ines

ill attach this panel to the Calle. tongue in the bottom rail of the

panel t() fit un the gTQQ\'Ie you made in t he bottom board. FinaLl", .I~

d fiiil for the brass inserts that eree the Iqcki'ng pins.

-ng upthe tOll' lid.

n ,] thick iid ~'II'i.tholJt dH~ ''''eDgh~. the thi kness • .... ith edg.in· (sec om draw' ng on the fudr,g P9igd. the chan.ge in grai!:l. at the-

non joint, eu't the edgings and.

m the top board stock h ... ,hich is Icklbeing ca'l'ehll to mark tile

to shov.· their ot$gj,nal position in rd _ NO\~' pla ne the board ""l'ith tl'lf

\:,J,gi ngs removed down 00 If2 im_ the cutoffs at their original

and cut it to its appreedrnat

00 wid.th and length. (To ensure lid will fit the cas-e. make the lLd - oversize at this sta.ge-you \'rfi!1I

: to its fi rushed width. llind Jength_ by 26% in_- l<lJtefJ Next,. cut the stri ps to length and glue them to the

_ ide of the Iid, flUi:ng i.n betv..-een

• e end-grai n cutoffs. To make a

n~ grain pattern, you can flip over d ruts so the growth rin.gs;ro,tm 31'1 al pattern.

· ng up' dille dm'~rs

drawers C<l~ I fur a lot of joints, so them effiC:ien-dy, either h)r routil'lg I using a dovetail ji,Ep,.,,rith a handrouter or cutting flnger joints \,l,I'ith a

ade ji,g on the table saw {s~'f' the ron p. 88J. Winter cut the"

zh dovetalls at ilI-e baCk ohhe

:r box with 3 shop-made router jrig

Using a shoP'mad~ ~ig. Win-t~r wills d!Jlil@'lails on Ihe drawer backs.. Pholm; by Sandor N;:Igys~a'anczy.

as. seenst the photos illrow r-]g_ht, and rut the blind dOV{4:ails that Join the sides to the front face \":it'b a n Inca j!ig fitted to a table-mounted route. AJ:ttmativ(!ly, if you ha'Of€' the time, you (,:a.1i1 cut both with a fine handsaw and Ii chisel,

The fil'$t $tep ill drawer conseructien is to get out the stock. for the drawers . Cut aU thedrawer fronts from one board to e:r:lsure.i1!·ple<lslllggrcajn match across the entire face of the box .. After cuttin,g the parts to the dimeJ1s:ion~ est.abl-ished

with 11 symbol indica. _ ~"""'.t'i--,~ ... ' beJonged to and thel r

another (see the

TRA[llTro;\.\ _ ...


I A ~ D G []
B Q; !;;: 0
-- - -
C 0 IF 0-
I 0 = H ~:~
0 ~
0 J
Pyromi'd symbolSO!i€,,~.j flo.!! pf!J'fM:. "B" id!lmtffi'es odlaWE!'f as .second from .top Je.ff in cll~s!.

thebottom panel=the P.~fLei ls :screwt.'Ci to ri'Lebottom edge of this board dUring ,t5Ge'mblr. This CO"lSl;r~uo:;:tkm m~i:h.oo makes 'it easier to ssscrnblcand to ~IJare up the dra\Io.'e' b(»;."Cs. and. also aUciws the drawer bottom eo be ~sib repaired or replaced if necessarj,

\Nith ~n the parts cut and mm~d. dryassemble each d rawer to ensure thilt the joints. 111[(~ tight with <I~ I tilt: partts (jIf the OOX sitting squmoe and fbt, Now g:1ueand damp tilt: 'box together, sJiclifig in the OOt1iiOITI. (:I<l [leland. screwi OJ! it ill place, When the box is dry,r;;emove it from the damps a nd sand the joints: flush. Then,

' ..... H·~ .. $u<ligh;t·flu~d hut set up on the router table, cut the slots iilr the d!:,.(lM,I'cr g;u ide-s in either side.of th~' drawer. To ensure th~t tlledu\.lIe'rs.wiU han,g level in the case YOlll1JUISt locete the slots precisely .. To il;hi 50 end ah",'l:Iys. index the oottom of etch drawer eotherouter table's~[Ll-,e, finally. rout e bead fur deccratton a~OTlg the top&:I~'j! ofea.ch dm ..... ~r face.

44 C ~I A l' T E R T \o\" 0

rusembUng the bm.::

Now I[Om~ rhe chtl.I~~n.~l!Itti ng 3]1 the !)<lJrts. togct her before tile glue dries, Before you attempt this, dQ a ol'Y run, '!til addition to checking the fu[ of joints, :l d.i'Y run lets you pr.;;Ictke the a~en~.bly sequence. 01'1 th:is Jh.c»:, jO]1l th(l'oottom board to the iI;'!I. ... u endpanels around the back paneland slide in the from !'<li~ from ,he top, Then slide the partirion assemblyin from the hu:k until it eH1,g3g,l~ in the groove in the back of the fl'Ofltrnii. Finish br !;lidin~th~ rear mi.1 down from the top ulnH it 5;i1;S ~T the back of the top partltlon l!'fldfHs tl.ghtl~r 1io tile top of th~ back pando

NCXf, toelTj,PQ~rity ins,t(lll ~he stm oversized lid by rnarki n.,gfot and ("llithng the hi1'lgt morrlses andinstalllng the hingcs. Then, ",il.n the lid dosed, trace the :;h.a~ of the top of the G1~ to the underslde of the three overihallgullg


ed,es.. After trimrn:ing the lid to ~jz~, use a dowel-eeneer marker ~l) n1l1rk duo two holesforthe locking mechanism actnetors, fi:l!la][Y. r-em()ve th~ lidand rout in the decomtivc 'OO.~ profile.

Witn the 'box now pennanendy il:.semb~~d.clw time 11:<1s l;.'I)m~ to fm[l\.~t the rer:nuJ\I'able front P'lilel and to' i nst.a.U and adjust th~dl'll,l\, .. re~" Plane the edges ofl;h.ep.'HlJd to form 1111 e~n g<I.~ line bet" '~n the pa nel and 'the Cll.SC'. Theil, nstalling the locking mecha:n,is.minlQ

zhe front raill, pre:'>S do..m o.n the pim 'to mark the eeneeref the holes to be drilled 1') the top edge of the panel Oil which zhe bushin,g for the lock pin 'Will be :lstalied), You can I!'Ill<IIke yOUJ O'IlI'n

mechaaism as Wtn~er did (see the

M"ing <utrightl, or yo~ gn ob~a~n one zhrough mail-order scurccs,

Cetlterthe drawers in their open.i[!,gs _ adding pap€uhinisbeneath the ngues of the guides to brin.g them out ~htl)'_ If the drn ... refS stick, c;1rl2':fUlUy ne dov.·tL th.'" fRoo of the glj.ides., As <I ~Itouch, use spray adl~.esive to ~ttilch.

• :lic Felt to the ~nside bottom of the ,'''ell's, rand to the' l)Q1!;JI;Q!m of the upper I w..ill)..

piyru~gc3rving :lind. b3nd~ng

- ng decoraelve fe,,1!1,l resto jl'Q1.:ll' box not oniyrenfuatlO(";S the look or

ieee. but also makes theoox YOU'f I nspi red. by the [[jlllg:rn if~.cernL~ Olll of his home sta:te,",'l/'jfl1te:l" decided " .. eo a pa'~1' of oak leaves around th.e escutcheon, Toadd mOliC! visual

( to the ffQnt ohhe chest, he

a clocora.tuvebandin£; across the faces,

mer prepared for the rel ief canlrfig S \\'iththe help of the real thing,

- opying twO oallea\>les, and dlen

~ rhe sise ()If the image ~!'J s,uit the the box" Ah~r g1u ing the

pies in plsce around the lock

'" neon, 'I.v1th '!.\VlliJte gh1e, he then sell;

LQGkpin (t~rol'iit trail~

.35o.d'ia, by Ve-in,

~hi~k: prmsed-cn die!: _~~~~~-L. "'-..:I

BOlit()mgulde ((roill mil)

~eceil.l,er ((fOril pallel)

to work ttl ca.rve tile rdlef.lie began by US:Lng Oil knife lio cut !n the Ql;lIl;line OIf the I.eaw:s, to the desiD'{]d depth .. Th€'mlI he cleaned OUI! the waste between the lines ~ ... i.tb ~ V!lri~ty .fif sma,1l ctitvin,g chisels.

Not ~ds:fkd with commercial bandings, ';\'inlJer d.ecided to make his 0\,\111 from ]efwve, pieces of peean. To create a color eontrast, he blel'ldcd,~i.ght-

colored sapwood withthe much darker heartwood .. Afte'l" ['Q~iting grooves in the moe of the d rnVl't:t fronts and the front rai'!. he app.lied gh.~e and pressed the oonding iru~ t:h~ groo\'~s. bei ng careful eosrart find cncltile bandmg so the patterns wU!J:Iici be: symmetrical f:rom dral\ .. rei' to dra,wer.

K:nel'l RQMrtson's !liIe~ha_fiic·s>styile 00<. ill yoJl.ow cerJ9f ~tlP&8 lull-a;.ilansr<m dirOi'o'!/!;irs. Irame-aFnd~anel sides, a ~altlnEif ..... ~ilil'1lg 5tirlac.e .end! e1Jo:ny ~eel and pl!I~S~ PhcdQ Iby Ctnarley Fiobr Mon.

46 C HAP T E R T \IV 0

A Chest with FuHExtension Drawers

lik~ David 'VI neer, Karen Robertson had to build three ·boxesberoresi:te gut to keep one for herself-the first t\,lIO.\lt'llt 35 presentsto fa mi~r members" Th:"'f>izn(td prirnuilytollold her collection of draFti_ng im:s.t ruments and [p1't.'Cision layout tools, Robertson's yeUm, ... cedar mochinl'St'~type box has some utlil!ll'i~1!l1 fe .. tu res: 11 d rep-down lid wkh a I~"ther~ C;01II'cred 'lIi'lI'i~ in.g su rfiu:e,a iSh.op-m.3(te eoolliY .Iatch sy"tcll'il. and f~IU-exten~!ol:l drawer slides made ellt~re~r from wooo. ]'ClIpersoI1l,llli"l£ a.l'lrl, d.ewrate the chest, Robertson. ofS<lllnk:h.to:n, British Columbia, ClInl'ldili, mlatd a floral pattern into the top of the lid,

Not find~ ng laoch ha.rd!'lII'i:Ireilia~ '11\'<115 either sm.aliJ enooghor ofhig"n e[lou~ qu.di.W 1;0 use On her chest, R()bc'f~ol'l doodtd todesigl'l a S}'lltem ofh~r ffllivfl. Afte'l" all, sh~ had inherited f!~m her grnndfather <I 2().lb" block of eoorry, a perfect; material for mab:;g durable and k--autifl.d hil!~\,!are" A.n~r [[)llki:ng a f\.'\". full-scale mockups of the laech <lind cateh, she ca:n<e up with the- sysl:el'1'I shm\l'[Iin the d:m v. jng on the f;g.ci~g P"ge_

Robertson turned the knohs on ;II srn<llllal:he and. then shaped the latch with chisels :t!ind ~mall nl~ (the tape-red profile OIIUm"rs theletch to dear thee Ir'IIilUl"ti!Oe in the' frol1t ra i~. as the 1i.d is bfted up)_ Measuring cl:ll'{"fu~ Iy from a fu Ill:scale' rendering, RoberlIson marked and pr-ooriUed llm.e holes mrt'he knob and the phtOt pin. Next sllle curt the tap0ffid mortise in tbe- lid ancit'he stro~gJlt mortise in the fmnt rail .by drilling out mOSt offh~ ~!>~(!: and then de-<I1'l1 ing up with a chisel, She cut the E:longa,t~d (J~niing for the knob in thefiloe oflhe top [,Ji[ 'l!:Isinga.mut{'r ~lnpJllltc, Rnlilil1y, Rob~rtlioJ:U dri]l<:d pilot holes for both ~he pivot pin a m.d the lock pin fm,m. the


Lid Latch

aaJl-po'jl'lt pen :spnililg ....--~~



I Ifa,oin. lock pin tliirQUS:h I'nllil1l imu:llde

N:ote,: 1..a'~'Ch' is t8p~Jle,(j' so it cJa818 fronr edge of mQni~ W:/;!9n li'd is flfted.

- E '(1) .allha box fs th a. Roral

p(otectors ere decorative andl _:' cal. f'ilolo by -" ey Robinsan,

An e'borry lalel; IWldslhe cMst closed, PhoiQ :by Charlley Aoibinool"l,



S tart ~Y making 01 •. f~ ll-size drawing of the sldc: of the too]!x»: a I'Id the dr<l'l.~"e~- Al ~ dl".a"\' front views to determine file layout of the slidi rig oovetaHs and the gt"OO,.C'S. Draw inthe part..., of the ,~)I~en5ion $},stem,im:ludin,g the ru nne; l'i.oJbkb is Hxed to the case s.~d{;), the slider hvhich runsberwecn the I1.UlfIer and the dr.iil.wer boKJ and 'the sid(it of the drawer 00,,:. If y01!.~ need more chi ritl.a.ti{Hl, also draw the box fully extended out of the case.

M.ea~UI re the size of" the parts on the rel'lderi ng and ,1;1 ... .,,, ",u't i:.h",'n out O<~ cl~~.~,

"" - .,d~".;xI stock. (Tc ... k '/l{Q1J~d be a good choice because Qif its self·lubticating qualities ~nd :its. :UI'lI hererit :>!;{IhilhyJ To keep things

si mple, make tile :;;1 lder the s~rne thickness as the dl'av,rer side. Note that ~he drm~'e'r ~ce wm overiap the end of the runner, h~ding it from \fie~"'_ Also note ~n the cress ~ection that the s.~ide[ isslLghdy nsrrower dum. the dtw'l'.'Cr side .. This, difference ill he:igh.t prevents the sllderfrorn binding aga~l'Ist a cross ra i~ or

a tightly Haed ne.~~hoo1'"]l1g drawer a!i it :m.O¥~ out of

the case.

Set up a dovetaf] blr Oil a tsble-moursedrouser 'to cut thedosetailed ~c1g<:"S of the ruuners and Slld~['S. Use the same bit--slf'1! tothe S<lin'u~

height=eo produce the sngled sides of the gmrn!e'S_ VI,f"h(;n cutti·n.g 't:h~e !,;J"'I)O'.-e£ iil"l the slid~fi. and drawer-box sides, male successive cuts 10\\:3 III either side, starting aIt the plece's.oenterllne. This \\';1!)'

the grooves '''':iil be exactly ccneered. Now size the sliding dovetJH to fill_ Though you want the Htto be tight 1iO reduce ""iUhng, you 1.1i.ef:-d.Hit loose enougbfor a ~mooth sliding aetien. M3k'l' Hi;,')1 cuts

.AIIJWOMSI ides aiiowl il1edrawers to e:dend lully lor lull access, Ph01Q by CtJarley AobifiSOfi.

in scrap stock flrs~ to test the action.

Cut the s1ot'i: for~h(; :stap pin~Ln the sliders, A cutting jrig ('0 gu ~de' a plung.e router flttoowith a straight b1t ',\rill help make this ta5k g'P ~uickl)' and W"i.~h the IU."Ce,Ssary preclsioe. Note in th.eslotlpin layout d rnrwim; belo .. \' that the slots run fmm 1 .UIl,]]] fmm the end of'ehc slider to I ln. on the far side o:hhe cenrerline. These diS!;al1or....os Must be equal rot thl2 :s.~idG:r 'to extend exactly h .. lf its. ~,e!1igth out of the case, (The dmwer will ii.lso pull out h~iHts

Stop p-jlf! attachedl

to case side


length ,I long the slider (and thus fu l1y {JUt. of the cas(;!l

After assembling the drawers and installillg the runners in the esse, the next step oS setti n.g 'the stop pins-, Karen Robertwrn made her

pi 1'1$ by mo,M'yil1g a brass wood screw: After ru nn il'llg 'i u the !lcr-c."\\' ttl establish the threads, she backed it out and filed ehe head flush ee the

hank. To find the location of the pin on the case side. install the slider On the runner, Push it all t he way i fla nd then make a. rna rk at the front end of the upper slot.Tn a s:imillar fashion. Ifl1\rk the pin location onthe drawer stde with the slider installed tight against 'the mce of the drawer. Th is time make the mark at the rear E'Tld of the lower slot,

Predrill for the sc rC'\'I<'S at the f1'HH'kS.

I nstall the dr,t\wi"S br s,lidnng in the sliders on their runners, Screw the stop pin i'l!'l th rough the slots into the 'C35C

sides. w fullr extend the

sliders from the case and slide in the drawer box, and sen .... w the 'Stop pin into the sidle of the drawer box. Rub wax From a candle s·tub liberally em the ~Hdiillg ~11"f:!!CC'S. Test the acticn.Hthey bind. the

ru nners may not haec been installed parallel, YQU 9.In remedy the problem by usin,C :I semper blade along the edges of th slidi ng doveratls w.h~~ binding is evident (rolJ am usually see ill burnished surfa. e, v here rubbi ng occu rd.




Slider 'Ipulls olJllof case

to its cffiln't¢rlinel

'Jalil: A, is distam;e between end of mot and eoa of slidsr. B Is distance belween apposite. end Qf ~Qt and c~nterllne 01 slider. A must eQlliifi B faT s}j'derto e/il1eJlri ou! of box to .midpOint, and 101' drawer to exU'md fuffy out 0,1 C~$e.

n ",side of the box (!It:Ql~pifig before penetrating the outside],

To umtali the latch. Roberrson epoxied a ball-point: pen spring to an attach ment pin on the latch, ~)1)( a gob (If 1=1J'D1I':)' on the free end of the spri ~:tg, and then slid the latch and spring into the wed.ge-sha,poo mortise. Aligning till" hole on the latch wLth rheplvet pin hole, she slipped III the dQ\""I!1 to hold 'the piece in place. Af1ier tile epoxy driooshe installed the lock PIIl1 lind worked the catch, onefully l1eshaping 'the end unt il it ('ngag~ the pin smoothly snd posjtlin~IJ"

Because the drswers of a traditional mechanic's ch!:c~t are so shallow, you often fl nd that you hall'e to removethem cnti~ly from the chess to ~t at SQme of their contents, Robertson felt 'that the repeated remuval of the drawers weu lei lead to exce~~"'"I! wear 011 the box over time and. worse, could cause thei r

va lua hie contents ~o spill As a soluelon to this problem, she came up Wi.tlI al:! all\'1''000., ful!-exterlsiQB drawer slid (see the sidebar at left). ru long as the box is kept :iin an. environment where the humidity <lJnd ternperaeure are rela.tively stable (tom in imize s~\femllg of the , .. 'OOd slide componelltsJ. these slides work extra.ordinarily well, The dr~'vers slide smooth ty in and out of thechest and gill'C you access to the full depth of the dml,ver~.

1'1'1 essence, the system is made up of tW'O 51idil1g dovetaded guidc'S--o:ne between the guid.e rail attached to the enlOe <lJnd. the intermediate slider, and ollie between this: slider and the side of the dra .... -er box. In the intefilru:dj;lite slider, the :sJQ1iS s~p against pins set into the dm\'ier and t'he case side. To make SuI\: that the system WOU Id work well ful]" a long time, Robe:mQn u:sed a stable hardwood (cherry) fur all components, indudingthe drawer sides. Feeling th9t IIny fitl is}:J. might canse stickiness, she ap:p.lied '!"'fIX only to the moving parts.

T~lwodi 41""


- - - - - ---

Wen the students of the cabinet and :~u:n::dture-m.a.king program Bit the North Bennet Street Schoo! in Boston.Massachusetts, have completed their six-wee k Intreductlen to the fn ndamenta ls of drafting and benchwork, they are given the opportun ity to embark upon their fl rst sta rt-to-finish project-the bui ld] ng ofa tool chest,

At the outset of the project, the students are given five parameters to guide the b1!.lHdi'ng of their chests. The outside dimensions of the case must be 17 in. high by 33 in. lengby 20 in. wide (a sizethat will fit under the school's workbenches), The carcase must be dovetailed. Drawers should be relativelyfew in number-six is recommended, although this requirement is not aJw.ay::; strictly insisted upon. The wood Ch05elJ must be appropriate. with good working characteristics, Finally, hsrdwaremay be j udividually selected .• brut there must he a simple means of locking the chest. Complex construction systems

Jodi ehsst by Wi II jam ClaytOfl, biJ~1 while he was a stliiderlli a! NOlth SeMel Sh'eet SdhooJ if! 80510'11, ~l3atllJresrine, handout do.....elail'S.on Ih~ drawel ooi'1es. Foo O1oher views oi llii:s chest, see p. 5:3,


and embel'lishments are dtscouraged to keep the student's involvement in rhe project wifhin.ill two- to three- month time frnnu:.

Olll <II practical level, the students will nt"l-d this Chl"Sl to store tht:ir personel collections of hand tools wh n \;;orking ]11 the school shop. But tile project provides much more: Through the huilding of 11 relatively strni,ghtfon""Qrd tool chest. the studenrs lea m

fu ndamental weodwerkmg s:kil[s, 8S set forth i n the offkia l sc hool prospectus. These include:

• blending marhine and hand woodworking tcdmicp .. lf'S-widl the emphasis 011 handv .. 'Ork as a wary to CR"IItt' a broade range OIf design and oanstruction solotions on a project ..

• practicing safe, eftldelilt benchwork a ltd mach ine-roorn techniques in the areas of layout, sizing lIndmi~~in.g of stock, <lind appb'ing fi n.i=>h~,

.. basic joinery, indudill(g the dO'lf{_"£1Iiil and the mornse ilInd tenon.

.. other basic woodwQrkillJ~ prccedures, indudlngdadoing. rabbeting;. ed~ joining. making and Httinc,cli\"ider fran1!1'S and partidQ'oS ~ncl door construction (bo~h frn.me and panel

a nd cleated],

.. learning about gmi[l3nd growth-ring considerations. and. designing to a 110\.\' mO\[(!mC1JJ.t .

• accounting lOr time and cost in the planning of a projl.: t.


The photos that £0110\\1', \\·hich were

ta ken by Lance Patterson of Nort i:I Bennet Street School, represent ~ 7 student projects, As you Gill sl;'e,1I:ht' restrictnms do net resulted ln bland. homogenous toolboxA..'S. Instead, students create c nests that strongly reflect their Own sense of design-and sometimes their-sense ef hernoras \1'1~1I. (Notice~hat Stepnen Alexander's box. shown ~n the top photo-on p, 54, protrays the face of tile North Bennet Street School buildingJ Though humble i [I dimension a n,d [tinction. the t"OO 1-

ell. t project has carried ~wrn; of students from theory, throtlgh ~~d\\I·Qlrkin.gpractk!!S, to the creation uf an attractive, functional object,

6·2 CIIA]'T'ER r u a s e

Approximalte size: 17 in, high by 20 in. deep by 33 irn. 10110

Ap,prop.rlBle wood, 'NiI1ii goodl'lIIorking characteristics





William Clayton's 1001 chest has an l.lnUSuafly welj.proPQrliQned case. Its c;le-sigo is :securely founded in the Arts and CFoIf!S era, will'! primary woods 01 q,muhlrsaWf! wtlile oak and Ibird'IS-ey,e maple. A.ltogelhSI' l!he box h:la111fa-s 16'0 haM-CLiI d'0'II8tails, Note Ole h8ndmade solid.eapper pulls arid ~M inlay WQtk o.f copper, p~r and dyed b!!@oCh Olr! the doors.



DralJlling on Ihe I$(:tm iQUlB's used in IpeFliod lurnilure (iesigns: to create hidden compartments. J. Ftsctler C!isgllJ!~sed tl1e stdtl' tr~ ool'ltainir'lgl his chisels as pilaster moldil'lgs. A drop Jic:l slfd!3's open to MlI!3'aJ Ih!!! dr.aW!llrs.




Stephen l\Ie);.<lnder employed a. paintedl lrompe l'oeil finish 10 mimic the' stone exlerlor 01 Ulill Norlh Bennel Stresl SchOQllbuilding on ~hie outside of his l'OolboM. lh~ -c~rving· on the elf"ld board of the t}ox is: also f-aI~e-1he date and symbol <'ir,e pail'llied. nol earvad, !Faux brickwork and a paintedfrQllt view of t·he scnoers en'~.y cmlIIplete Il'Ie illusioi'll,


Eric Englander drew heavily on 1M Arts. :and trails sly'Je IOi inspiralian wIle-n he buill his 1001 che"SI. The basic lorm or Ihe boit: comes (r,om a Gustav S.ic1dey furnfll.iffi piece, ana the inlay is. inspired byllile WOJj( of Har~ ali!;:, .. 001- I~ague 01 Slickls)', The sfde-openlng doors alld long, narrow central drawers give the roesl a ple-m;ing. slabl~ !ippe<lrance.

J\ S"i' U [I I': N T TOO l - C I .. F.:$ T P!\ 0 JE c r la:wodli


IEm:hanted by Ihe furnit!Jffi of the Ming DynastY, Pell!ir CtiiDDI inlcorpanilled many Ohinese elemanls in the design of his ct'lesl. above. A campai,gn chest influenoed 'Ihe snljlpe of the bOK, a lea table inspired Ihe lop. and an em per of's ~ad sugge:Sled Ine form ollhe 5land, The 00;( is hn['shed with a Ifadi· tionalt!Jl'lg.:seed oil.

The che-sl ~. fight, by Tom SuI\l81skas.,. is influencec by lila BarOQue fUfI"IiMe of Louis xv. More a miniilliure piece ollurnilure than a lombox. the chesl il;; reminiscent 01 a. classic bOnlloo eemmeee.

56 C I { }\ If' 'Ii f.. R l' I-l R f!. E



Joe 8a~beau used a drop lid 10 aCId Ii touch 01 beauty lind mart to his prot8!C1. shovm above lind at ftgl1l', The trip1l1Ch O'f An'lillrimma was painted using artisrs acrylics for the p!I!lels and a mod~rn oil slain

to color lhe rest 01 the chest

00 Jaflle Swanson's tool dlesl 'abowl, the drop lid 15 embelliShed' with an irllaid floral design,




58 CIt 1\ i''' E R T H R E E


Ti'ne 1001 chest 01 Adam Mar'l!ls f~atures an open compartment topped ~y three drawers that run 'the 18nglh of the bo((. The box closes with IQcka'bre, sid~poei'li i1g doors.


Hobday was eme ailhe' few studerl!s ;ieclded 10 IJS€ Ihe top of th€! chest as a - cesign soluuon ih;!jl' maximize$ the

of usable space wi!hin lfie limile-d ters of the projec!- On his to~ chest. alCl lockable drop lid covers !tle dra\'te(

for SECU(lty.

The tool cnest or Judillh Hanson is pleasing in ilS tih,oughUul s,impln::ily 01 form_ A bank 01 dr.ewers is COriCElated behiFld 8. p~ir of sideop.ening doors.

A s r U [I l! N T TOO I. - C H EST PRO _I E C T r_wadi



Se'JSr,al stuc&enls arrived at unlQu~ <3nd pleasi fig solutions (or IPutting handles on Ih~ (lrawer boxes, The chests S?hown on this page am by Bath AtIn H'artington Uertl. Peeler Barte'll (o.eJow len:) and Seam O"Rourke (below). 01'1 the lacing page ate chests by Frances Diemoz ~tQP len), Sam Robil1lS{)n (top nlgtrt) and Mario Rubio Ospi!l<fll (boil,Qml.




Cubbyhole shelvlI.g, brimming wilh power tOQfs. swe~ps across an enlire wall 01 Timbererett Homes' timbeHr<llrning sbep in Pori TO'IJillsend, Wash. Photo by Craig w€:sr~r_





Wki ng through the cabiuetmaker's, wh~(C']wr]ghf5 and, cooper's S~.IOpS of Colonial VifilliallUsbu:rg in Virgina, [was struck by one thing that each of these pre-industrial woodworking shops hold in common: the ubiquitous presence of countless handtools hung or shelved along nearly everysquareinch ofwall surface. '\lVhen Lasked the craftsmen about. this, 'they replied that working exclusively with hand tools demanded that the tools he immedia.telY:fIccessible-

a nythi ng less roa.rkedly affected the efficiency (If their work.While largertools such as planes or fragHe ]ayout instruments might be stored in their personal chests at the end ofthe workday, they found It best to leave such tools as screwdrivers, hammers, chisels, saws, and bits and braces permanently setout closeat hand on the wells of the shop. Andbeca use they worked either alone or a mQ:ngm.mily or dose associ~te$ ("110'1; smong strangers in a factory), they felt sa£;; leaving their tools: out in. the-open.

DES 1 G N Hl-G IN·:HI 0 P' TO 0 L STeHl; AG Il TAW"odii

'Vhi lc tb is ready .u;:cessihil it;, made sense to me. [cou]dn/t help competing thes~ shOflli to mr own, where fine wood dust quickly rorms a fa hn O'I'€t a n1 tools le-ft out: foil" more than a da'j.'. Then it darl\'ned on me rha't my shop conre ins soml'thi ng complete I}' foTeign 11:0 these

hi rorical shops; machines.It is. of courw,pffi'l'er tools that produce most of the fine wood dust in a woodworking shop. Because pre-tndustrial weodworkers created mostl~' sh:wi ngs worli. ing with h<llld tool s,ti-e}' did !'lot have to worry about the hand les ohh~ir stored tools (or their lungs for that matter) becoming coated with an annoying-and potentia Ily d.a~rous-

lick film of dust;

Nowadays, however, powered hand i;{Jols are ~ necessary pan of the , .. 'Ork, and they too need a home within ehe shop. One escellent solution is to create open-faced bins-or cubbyholes-for each tool, its accessories and its Snag-prone pm\ er cord, The tim ocf-'-fra mi n.g shop at Timbercraft Homes in Port Townsend, 'Nashington, features cubbyhole tool storage bee the photo on p, 62} . These bins don't block out all the elIust and debris of a busy shop, but they do organiill~ 'the tools end also p:rovick· easy access to them. The Ilearvie:r power tools om be located in the Im .. 'ti' bins '~o make .'hem easier and safer'to remove <lind replace. Be rnteful. however, to place the-



The interior of the Dominy family's lIKloo\\,l'mking shop. TfIOugh longl oul of use by Ihe tlrna the H iSlOric.!!l..merican Bumoli'igs Survey took .11 is piCluFe in 11940, Ihe :shop still had a great many hand tools hanging on lhe' walls. Wl'lile some tools were presumably kepi in jDine:r's chests ~i.wQ SlJch 00)($10 Siand at lhe end o'r the ber'lcl'l), 1M cab.nel· me.1f.ers probably lrepllheir most comliIlonl¥ used hand tOQIS in sighl and close al hand. Photo courtesy of 'the Collecltons ollhs Libraljl' 01' COflg ress,

hcmriest tools (ar Timbcrcraft, these are the c~ai1il mortlsers) at about elbm .. r height toprotcee your back. Sr1il31! hand and powerteols <lind their accesscriescan go ln the upper bins.

Types of In-Shop Tool Storage

To protect and o,r;g:uJJi z:e ha nd tools \,vh]l.e keeping them lum.dy, youmayeheose to huilcl One Or more .of these 'wni:eties of toolboxes: wall cabinets. standlng cabinets ilmi rolhng earrs .. TID milkc!l good decision ",boot whi~h of these 1:x.H'i.eS might best suit yOllr needs, you should first make <Ii list of 91] the tools that JlIe<..>cl to be easily .Ilcc~'l>-siblel yet


protected. Then rhin k about where in the shop-and how often-you most often use th~ tools. After re~d~l1g the dt'sct1ptioos 1x~ow, you should h<l'!l'e a pretty good ~dell Qf,.\'h kh bet ..... (or cemhinarion ofboxes) i·sright ror Y01;L


[f you have 3 shop in ~ two-car g<lrOlg.e· or ~ma Her <I re:<l.YOu'~ ]ike~}'~earn.ro '~hat open floor space is at a pre'nli~um, .. nd you'U probably want a SitCH,I~ sys.tem dl~;t doelm't take up roo much space. ]n Itry O\,vn shop of less than SOD ::;q.fL, I'm oneful to preserve <I[{:aS where d;'lmpc·d assemblies can he see a~inn ~ 'I. ..... ll to droy and where milled pa rts can be stored prior to a55emh~y (and where my kids

','II'~ ll inVl'lriably lean th€i r bic)'desfOr me ItO fL";;). In !lhoj)!.i of ~ i mh.edsiz£, th.e best [place for s~orin.g tools. ~:5. g:efleral~y i!) .<'1 n area where' floor space is alre,auy

.;;;'Omml it~dl. Rlllther than. sitting a t:oo]bm: on the floor, then, yot! can instead choose 1iO han.g, a too~-storage cllib]net o:n thewaU. One e",-cep~iollally efficient 10t.:m!tion for a 1iOO~ cabinet is ever 11 wo:~kbellch. Dependicg on the size box you cheeseeo rn.ake, you could keep a ,,,,,.rde variety of bench tools there-froma small. box centai fling on~ya set of carvin!:. or mortising chisels 1);0 a l'l'rger boxf'O!t stQfin,g a full selection cfplanes. ha.nd saws, chisels and J8!)'OUl tools.

Hcm!ever,hm~ging a .CI.l.bi[iJ~t (JW:::.~ a. bench can impo:;e some Iinritat.iQflS, If you have to lesu over the bench to reach ,he cabinet,liIa' example, the hei~t to ,vhich you can reach is less than if ~he bench were not in your \l,lay, so yo~l'lI have to .aclju:>~ the cabinet's height acoord.inJlly. In ~ddido:n,~vheIl. you lean Ci~r 11 hen.c.n you must ~Kt'~n.d )fOur arms. ""J.ichthro,NS you off balance and reduces you r Bfti!]g <!Ibility. Because of these iimitations,. you may not wsntto keep he<lvy jX)'i'>"ef tools (such as a curc;~Jl1.lr SiI'I\' or :;1 p~unge rout~r) in this

Since the lu m olll1is cenUJry, r<@<Sidert~ pa1:terilma~~5 01 Wing and Sons· m,achine snop in Greerdield, Mass" have come to !hls. wa11:-1l:ungl todloox d(fJ chi~ls, rn~lIswing ins!rumenls and various other h'.)OliS of thsir trade. The box is IOCEl'ted o1ooe to a pal.temmiilker's vige ii:<led: at the eM of a massive workibenOh .. Pho~Q by Villoent LaLJrenc!iI_

"tawod~ D 1::9 i G N i iN! G l. N • S. 1'1 O.P T. 0 0 L S '['OR A G r .~ es

Furl'lliture maket Sanford 8ucha11er, 01 Freeland, Mich., Ibuil1lt1is standln9 chest for his ialheir in Irade lor a small 'trawl tool chest his lalher built tor him. Nearly every tool "1'1 Ihe chNI i:s re-.adily visible and inslanlly acc8ssible'- The beT); Ihanging below in Ihe supperl firame' con~!iins Ii small ,drawer and W'Oooworking reference books, Photo by JOil'lOllhan 8inzen.

csbh et. However, there Is no limitation On tile volume of the cabinet. You can design it as wide as you like (evcnes wide 9S your workbench], and you can also ClllJfH the doors 'to hold ill sUfl'['ising

flU mber and V<I riety of tools, \tVlIll cabinets are discussed more'ft;LI~' in Chapter 5.


[1'1 some speda~t)' \\I'OOd",,"orkil1g trades the classic ra"bine:tmaker's too] chest evolved from a mInk-lil~ box to a ,co[l·sidMl'll.bl), larger. though shellewer, standi ng cablnet. In ,~(Iay use, atall and shallow shape has obwiml S advantages. Orienting the tools along a tall, ver1!;iQ}l surface allows many. if not al], of the tools to be instantly accessible. Unlike the truns-rype box, }~Oli don't have to li'ft or slide trays or at in of drawers to ~t at tools bu rled in <I \,veIL below. And, as a bl,e:>sing to your bsck, yOu don'e have to scrunch (}~r to!j'j..'"t into llhe bcx-instead YQ1.iI can set the tools at a comfortable: height above the fleer,

To make the most ef a standing

cabinet's ease of a.CC'(!SS, )''01.1 should locate it dose to where you norman}!' stand at ~'Our workbench.

U III ike traditional (~bili~tmilh.'s chests, however, standillg tOQI. cabinets take up a lot of'llVll.l1 space. In a small shop (say a one-car garagNizcsp3cel. you ma~' h;'lv€ trouble fifidin,g room for one. And if you do, you must 00 careful to plaec it so th<lt it doesn't block precious rtaturalli.ght coming in from a \,!llndow. The standing tool G1binet, when O]X'Il,

al 5{) exposes all your tools t'Q dust-

and 1;0 view. I would have second tlilol]ghts about keeping m~~ toolsin this type of'bex if] worked in a bus}' shop fiUed with lots of women; and production IDachi!1e"fY-


St,andu[lI@; cablnets are difflcu ~iI; to move, Unle9S y'OU build the box rather 'sm3.11 {vlb ich scvcrdy limits the number ,,,hools it 'can COIl'!ta~n), these ibulky chests are d£fini'tdy m .. k"..:lglrJ to h~ndie. Also, the same clips a ndl.ckarts, that ma kc 'the tools easl' to extractare often too ~oodittin.g to secure the tools properly during sh:ipping, IF ~{O~t need to move ym;lrtools frequendy, or even perlodically, this probably is,ni't thebe&t type' of tool storage for you, Sta nJing eoel cabinets are discussed more fully in Chapter 6 .

.ROLLING TOOL CARTS A mUini; Cart!S anoth.c'.igooci ,.,ray to provide easy be~],h-Sldle accessto 'yo.ll" tools, You can design a cart eocenrain a great number and varlet)' of <oo.ls, but YQU dQ(Ili't have 'UJ'WO'l"If'j abcut o¥e.r1ooa.in.g it wuth the .hea.\ly OnC';';" Best of all, a rollin,g nrt can foHO'Iv you

a~ .... here you ItQ in, the SllOP, offf;rln,g. up the necessarytools W~'ictJ. and where you '''''''Ilt them,

It is tC'mphng and fun to d!tsign the cartto QlHy every tool }'QUI '!think you ml,ght need for iliny purpose throughout the shop. But if you are an Qbs~sive tool collector like mose weodwerkers I kJl.O'I,\I", Y01.:ur cartwould haveto be huge. UnMrtunl.tt.ely, in a smell V!/ood\\'Orki ng shop, an ali-iudusive monster-cart w(iul,d be um\'i~ld1 ::IiJ1d oollstan:t'1y iU'lt.he Wi!y. ]n geneflll thea, I s~ggest desig;nin,g the cart to s~r'\l'e on.ly certain shop operarions, (As yo~'ll see in ella.pter 7,

] designed my eart ItO oolt1:tain the 1:.00 Is. 1 wculduse prim~rn1 fQr ll~~l]1b~ in:g cahinets, and fumitJ.;~['oC'J Thiillt \'I/I2!yyotl can plan the d.es~n OIfoun.d .a limitoo number of tools, makitl,g access ttl them 8!S efficient as possible <J;Ildlimiltil:l:g the cart's overall '''IIi!igi'ut and dimensions. \oVith this appreach, you are uSin.g the rolling am to augm.cn;t dlli'l ptimi!:['Y toolseorage systel'ns in your shop.

Cr~l~m~n n~r8e: $no/Qer, of w€:st Crtiek,.

N, J., bui~t Ihis rollingl cart to COIrry his roolslQ \l!()rk areasthrouglhollt his. shop. CQnstrl.lcted largely o~ QlJflrle~5a .... i'I r,edl oal;;;, II haJ> solved Ihe pl'OtJlem of iicau.erecl and misplaoed tools, PllOt·P by N!ew image PMt.r.ig raJplhy,

DES i G N I. N G I Nl .s HOP TOO. L 5 TO lUi. G [ T8MlOdil

Gabinelmaker Charl!i!$ PI.aU buill fhis sloI,age statiOi'! around hls 1Q·in, IliIblEl' saw, entirely f@plaDirng ns metEll stand, Making the mosl QUI of floor space ~ha1 is typical· Iy was18d, he- was abfe to Cf8ate separille ara-~ to s~ore l&ble-sa,(J related 1001:,;, sawb.ladecs, pow€I hand 100lIs Sind a ~€imO'l.llabl~ dust tflil. Pimta

by Did; Fellows Pi1otog laphy.



A g,ood 'V"aY to supplement tool storage in ,m~,r size shopis with II variety of statlonboxes, Located at the major stationarypower tool s and workstarlens throug11o'Utt'he shop (see thedrOlWill!.!l blow), these boxes hold a collection of tools essenrlal to the \"ork ger'lelally peorform.ed itl th~'t 31"(j1, StIltio:n. hoses can be sized to suit the needs at hand. Charles Platt, of Glen moore,

Flenm;},lwlIl ia, built his table-saw tool station entirel:y :around his to-in. saw (see the photo at leftl, creating five ~,p:H'ate cmnpartrnents re store :3 wide selection of sawblades a ncl a II the tools. and accessories he needed to deal with doe ,*n~rni operation of thilil' machine. (The&e leclude a set of bh.d("-Cha nging

Cabinet for S<:i~I;I.des. w;enchea,. push slicks and oIheir ta:bl&-saw <lccessori~s

WOfklbe'J1ch __./

Wall cab;inet lor bencl'lllarild toOls

Vl.!tteeledi tool • ~

'"'" (op1ionall ---U ('" P~"


Walll ca'binet for dn111 bits and dulll-press san'ldirug whe:l1lls~ I

Stallion·Box Strategy in a Smal~ Sholp

10011 to!eS for l"01.Jgh I: carlPerntry and instal~atiQI'lS

Tab!e·saw I-----Ir--..-


Drawersklr sllarp8flin9 aooesoorie-s

Tool cabin6ts Iocared at pow~r toals arid worksiations hard what's nt!Hf;!~ iw work in each a~o1i,

SlharpBning stones


wrenches, Allen wrenches for fin~ wliling the tip fence, .. j)l,lI&h stkk, dan:1[pS fur rile fea.ther"lxmrd, and ell."tnJ. s..::r,\,-kerr inserts.] P~enty of space is~eft ffire!l"Mr a removable sawdust bin, as well as cabinet space for s'torill1g othee tools that fi.rJd U5e in that ~n(lra13ma. of the shop,

lt's i mpr-15sihie to appre-cill'i1<! h()\,\' mnch tkne arid effort these S!;.;1.do:n boxes win. S1WC ~u unlui. }'ou'vlc: worked ",,'1I.':h them. Cert<li!1 ~y your feet wuiI th~nk )I'CI'll for the miles ofw31king )roll no longer have to do, Vou:rotlher rool-S1!ornge units become mote~lsefLli as well, since

they nolo~lger h~ .... 'e to hcuse stationspecific tools.

Design Considerations

Pel"ha~the: m.ost f1.J.ndlllTU~![lta~ concept to b:cp in mind ",'hen: designing tool srorage fOIl" }'OUf shop is this: Provide a specific place for each item toO be ~1;ored, and aon$~st!entl}' return.each jtem to its. place. Usinga toolbex b!JIilt according to elris principle qui!:k1y becomes second nature, Yom hands, lndependent of your ~yes. soon know \\fhereto find <I ~ool-in itsplace. And! J'OLt[ ~!'e~ k:rn.0\0\i" at a glance if <Iny tool ls mlssing....,i:t's ()1;~t OHUi place,

Another fundamental principle is sirnp.~idty: ITl.e",'~~.bl}r,. the mll:r~ c:ompl{;'X thll: s;torog;c :::~rswm,. the more diffic~ It it w~U he to get at an individ.u<lii. ttM:JL Bilck in my fil'l:isi1..ci!!l:'ptuu'Y da,'S. I r-em.ernbe. hane,ing off the end oft! sc,af:fo!,ciing board tqrul.lgwfit a piece of molding aleng a c~il:iJl1g line. Needing ill C'C'.I·til~ fI chisel tom:1l!,-;e 1the fill!a.~ trim cut, I yd.ed. dQ\\11 to my partner eo ilfo:~ 1t: for me out of my to()~bo.1!;. B'ythe time he , .. rad!5d throo.gh the awer-lyin.g tl'.a.ys oftoo~s OIl1d miscellenecus odds and ends 00 get at it, I had given up ,,,,,,il i.llg and whacked the poor molding Into place w'id\ a hammer.

Chls;eI'S im dips o:r pooket'fi

m ~ fi

.. ~ ";"~~~---fl~:;:-~ "" I ~r.~ fi~~lk~

~ ~ I"'iJ ~ '-~_"~!P.P ""

In, ('I- ~ ... Ih. i\

Sq~;;IfflS SI.Ip;porll!!d by nooks on pegboorti

SCr@'II'o'dl'illers in s,prfng holders

Bit and burr-allanlks :Set [!'ito holes

!) r SI C N [N C ] N - HI 0 J' '100 L S TO R AC I~ Tawodi



No, it was not a very good fit. And yes, ~ redesigned my toolbox,

The goat then, is to find a. ~"'3Y to cent a ill all the tool s you need without c:re~tin,g toolbox gridlock. Unl~S'S you am buildiltg a tradizional cabinetmaker's chest, avoid c1:'eadng compartn],ent;$1(hat requi re removing other components for access, l also avoid complex holding

me han isms for the tool handles. If a mechanism is necessary ail: ali, be: it a tur:nbutt:on 01:' some fjfpe of catch, it should he operable bllndfolded \~'ith one 3 rm tied behind your back. i\ strip of magnetic tape may be lIUyo-U ne:et:t to hold light 1'0015 .like small serewdnvers securely in place. Some typical toolsupport ~tl"ategre. s are shown in the' drnl'\'ing on PI 69.

THE DESIGN PROCESS After you've decided on the type of toolbox that would best suit. your speciHc needsand shop situation, begin the design pr0«:56 by til i nki rig about the work you will be doing in proximity te the proposed st()~ unit. This 'will tell you what tools you probably should ton: there. Now make II list ofthe tools that seem most appropriate 00 store in the unit. Consider that same tools may not store"\,'llen (hlJl~.k~p and he;ll.vyp(}\wer tools like plunge reuters or circular saws in II "','<l.I.!-hung cabinet for iustance], and that some of the tools (such as screwdrivers and hammers] may be equall.y necessary in other parts of the shop, The e might bes't be placed on 9 rolling cart or in a sratioe, 'box. Si nee I do .. fa; r bit of hand!·1i)ool wood'l\'Orking, [ place moot

of my layout toms and hand pla nes

in a '","a.11 box locsted by the vise' end

of my workbench,

Once you have your 1:001 list, think about the placement of each tool within the box. To prevent back stra in when

I iftin..gthem out, I locate hca.vy tools toward the bottom of'the unrt, with the heaviest placed :at jU~1I: below elbow hei.ght, I place a wide assortment of lig.hw,reight tools on the doors of the unit-they'lie easy to see' and get at here, and they don't stress the door. TOQI5 with pierced handles (such as spokeshaves, saws, flies, and wrenc'!les) go on p~gs; other small hand tools (such as

screv .... drivers) nil: easily into dips, b:rnc6;:s or pockets. YO'll can slide planes into small pigeonholes in the interior of the box, but remember that you can't see their lengths this way, so you'll have to memorlzewhere each plane goes, Another option is to set the planes on pegs or na rrm v shelves, or topierce their

This dilJided drawer in Jim To1pin's roltinglool can has a sllclin.g Iray, Pha10 by Craig WeSler.

bases with a hole (culloclors will shudder) and hang them, Small. tools, especia Uy clItting eools like router and d rin 'bits, are best placed ill drawers 01" pull-out bi IlS.

Ina rol hng (t1l't, r like to use dra'Ners fur most, if I:'I.O't all, of the storage area, A$ the cart is trundled OV~ th~ uneven [leer of my shop, [ want the drlfl\\'ersto provide good protection fur mywols .... more than th y might "ave if th yare hung on pegs 01" set on shelves. CI.osdy ronl1m:=i! 'between. the dividers set w~thin the 'h1L)rs, the tools can't roll about and damage themselves or One ~Tl.othet,

Not ice 111 the photo a bove that ] heve addeda divided tray to the drawer, Sliding back and forth oal dges over the di\fidc.>(\ compa rtments beloi .. ', tile tray maximizes the use of the space 'Nith in the d n)I'II\re-r, yetbare1y interferes wirh


DaYi',d Powell's tool cabinet reflltur'e.s, a French· filtM If,ay, Plloto by VlnDent Laurence.

accessibi lity. You could a 150 add French. BtI!eC compartments to some of the drewer bottoms to help keep tools from rolling about (sec the "note above],

Try 1!0 ll.'VOid creating non-dedicated spaces fQ:r tool SlOr-age, such as, an open well I or a length of undiv'ided sheh~if'lg, This design option theoretically offer.; you options, but in rel!!Lity it just gi lI'L'"S you a. spot to pile junk. Like-vise, while adj'llst'ilbLe shelving migh:t seem like 3 good idea, it ral'e'ly is, Once you CQllnmit toQls to theirspaces there's no need eo tinker with time shelves, and the adjustable feature berom~s a ~ illJbi lity, in!; Fie<lS' ng the Ii kelihood I;hat a shdh\'ill tilt !'IOO, dU.MP its contents on your Ii>et.

Even worse than :[I whacked foot fur <I woodworker (who is used too such. a busel is losing a favorite tool. To avoid this dishearteni ng experience, I tr)' net to sql..le;e2ie too ma.ny 11001s into my reolboxes. IfI do, I' sooner or laecr end up hiding a smaller too~ behind a larger one, [f it is a tool [ don't us!: very often (but it is, Of.OOUlf"Se, the only eocl worth using fur .1 certain job], I inm·.iably forget \;(hcre [ stored it. EventuaU, ' it is forgoU~nenti rei}"


Gather the tools you want ttl store i at your tOQ.lboK and spread them out on a dean sheet of plywood .. Sra n plllyi ng, with ehe a:rnln1gement, grouping the toots to rether according to their functkm ~l.I1d to. the s1,;tggestions outlined 300l.fC.lf necessary, hold your experiments in place with \vooo scraps or nalls, Remember to account for the rhicknessof'compaetment dividers and 1:001 5upports--jndlCl'lI)e them on the P~Y',,·oOO with strips of wood, YOUIi goel is to disw\ler the layout that maximin'S access to the tools in the smallest volume ofspaoe.

It \'von't take IOl'l.,g until you begin to see how ]arg-;and in what overall oonfigl.lrntion-ymlf s~orage unit must be. Of you don't HkJ:: what you see, itt's still nottoo late to rethink your tool requirements.) Now rnakea rough. :sketch of the unit, drawing in tile location of any major partitions, drawers 01" bins.Jf 3lO1..1 ha\'e an "instant" camera, consider taking a pictl.lll"~ of the layout as \"'011, Commit y'Olllrself to th~ o\ll:'ral.1 dimensions of the box and the sire and 10000tion of tile major interior compon!:!nts,. and indicnrte them 'on

your rou~h sketch.

The ilelrt step is to create a set of ,!{()rking drawings ror the box. I. s.trongly suggest drawing tnt€- pl.am to fun salk .. for several reasons, I~irst. you (till se.e dearl~' what the cverall s.ize and proportions of the box a.n:: going to be (wu 0111 CVC'n

ta kethe completed d l"liW]ng into ~'O'1;Lr shop to see hO\\' well the unit ""ill f1t into its proposed locatkm)' Second, you am measure the components dl rectly off the drawing to produce a bill of mate:ria ~s and cut lists. And dl ird, you ('1ITI1 laY'OL;lt deta,j Is f:rom the dn' .... illg such as joint lines d:ilrectlJ, on the stock (or on a story stld). This. is as: dose to ill fa ii-53Je layout 1>_yst:C'm as }'Q1oI can get.

D 1:". 50 I G N I N G r N - S H (I j' TOO I.. S TOR A G F. Ts'wodii

- - - - - - - - ~ - _._ - II

_f~ ~~--~----~~~,

, I

Hori2:QJI~al refe~n.oe liM)

~~I~plIil9 sl:'iee.tg, rn' pape;r tape.d to p&lel


Piylwod or E'ie.rdoo1ilI'd palil~1

stroighted;ge that is as lOong. as th!! longest dimension of the :project; 1Iind pencils (and an eraser].

Tape a sheet of paper to the- p~j",mod panel, buulcling ~Ip tile width or le1)gtb if necessary wuh a seccnd sheet, Rememberro a.~lov.' s;ufndem piThper to dira\,\! 0) side and top view in add!it]oi'l !.'O the moe view. [f you are designing ~ s1I1lnoing chest, 100000lDe 1!he paper even

'I. ... ith the ]O\\'e'f edge o:h.h12' ;p:iIIiLd so !f01:1

4.;1it_ ma~lk on s~rai;glfltedge

, I sft.

3,.l't mark on homartlal r:eferenoe rin.e

2. Lay ,out the vertical r:efere~oo {ine. Begin uy il7'U~aStHjngaOl'Jd m'.uklng :3 [t.on hor.lZtllflt;llcj line. then nola $<ltat:lhtoo~ ~t st01rtingiOofJil't.as shOWfit AdjUst s/(sight.edge unW di$t~fl(;¢ .DtNw~~n 44l, mark on sti'aightedge an(/ 3·/f. maik ,Oil' hOfilzonraJ iine m.e8S't.i'ffllS 5 ft Theil' dlCOlW rme along e.rJge Q' s{ralgh.fedge,' fr wm :be perfectly perpendie:rJlar to /1ourontaf te'fer:enoe line.

t. Dt~w horizOnit.;l\1 [~(~fenoe litle pe.raJJ.el to li{)f~nm oo~ ofp~n~l,

Cl1ea.t:Dng 3 fll]ill"SE3~e: J'lelm:denng

To Ctt:'<l.te a f[lll-sc:;!~e ]'endering of your tDolbox, you \I~l'j Ilm-oo th.~ fulhl,l'ing materials and tools: a n<ll\;, smooth. ~ nd square panel to hoM the d.awing{Y+-in. h<lJrow<JoopIY'i'lroOO. or hm'dboO!rd works ''''ell); a l'oJI of beecher paper or il roU of W1LlIIn drnft~[i:g paper (you may havero 1ta~ ~~I"<l1 pi«li!swg(!th~rro ~t the wtdth you needka .2-fr, square; a rui£d.


CH'I usethis .edg{l as the- base lifL(!fc,nh~ dl:'¥l!."dng, Thet wil] a ]1l1)li.", yo:!']. to set the dn,w:irag at floor level :>0, you can stand back and get a geodldea ofthe o'il\eraH slae and proportions of your chest when set in normal working position.

Ikg.; 11 the full-SCil]e rendering by est11blisniillg reference lines, u.s shown in the d rawil1g above. Draw the base I'~l~e-.a horiz.onl~1 reference line dose tothe bottom ()fth~pape:rand pa:rnlh:!1 00 the

,. ~;

I I ~rtioal
I line
I - - - - - - - - --
4 I
% I
I<v 3. The paper Js mi3dy t.or t:h:.e tull'Gwia ~nd9,rjng',

pani2I"sbmkim edge, Then, dose to one slde of the ,,~net draw ~ verticel rereJ1enc:e ]ine perpendiculart» the base line, If 1!he pa!~,el's sidle edge, is perfecrly :sq~3rotO its bottom edge, )'01J need only measure O¥eT aID! even amount at the top and OOttJJm. ofthe panel to make this Nne, Othel\"'~!le, use a fral'ning square OIr the classic 3, 4, 5 measurement tl1iC-k shown in the drawinJl_ Now, referrin~ to


I ~ , II

fUlII"'Sc-aJe wndering


I, ~-l!-Ic-I Wkl1iiil of

top of box

t. .L~;r C'ut rna-in !il'imenS!iOJ1$ a/oOX' o~ $({'C$(.

2. Refefen~ :Mot I' sti,cf( to ~ti'¢ar f~f~ff1m;~ line to maTk toomiOflS 01 major l!efticallfnes of ~()()lbox.

3. Raferefloo' ",I:o(y 61ick toO ho.l1mntaJ J'eferelloe Jine ro mark !Qca'~fQm Qf majw fwliz,cmtal rinesoftoolbox.

your rough i~etth, draw in the outH:ne of the box by m.e1I.sl!r~nl'g ~r in equal amounts from thereference lines. Dra\'!.' in theOOttoOrn. side and top panels. You can use 1'1 snaight-.erl.g:r=-d. star), stick to ell:51.1:fe accuracy-and to speed up the process, 11$ s.lu;lwrti in the drawing above right. COflltinl.le by dr3\1ilil'l.!l, in partieions, drawer bins, and ilily other fi};.M.

interior 'oompoinern!;S.

Ex~end lines up from the £aceta Creilite the top v~.~~r, liInrl1ihel:l~o the side tocreare the side view (sell: the drawing

a:t left on p, 74}, RUin t~.ledetail!i of the drawing on eilch of theviews, dnI'I'\fjn,g in the cut lines of allY joints. the outline of any f1oalul)g panels, ancl\l'ie\ ... 'SoF drawer boxes, eeel iluac:hment deaQ;, or buttons ..

D r. S I G N I N' GIN· ::Hl 0 r T' 0 0 L :S'1 0 El A G I! Tawodi

PaMI ,
A "',
11( l-"
45° ''mlrror'' line
II 'l .. ,
I Top,\i!ew IY
, 7
i I
, I! I
I 1 I Side I I
F:aoe view
, I
1 f I' I-='_ I~ I

'I - J=I

, I
, , J;
,'A . 1" E~e1ld rmas up from o!itside O!1Hine oJ laoe view to establish ~ of rop vj~w.. (Es~8'blish depth by m-6!~$(JI~ment.)

,fl, IEx~e'/1d riMs own #Om top view lJII'll;iJ meyjnr.@l'Sffiict45~ line, th,en drop vEniicaJ 1in8's !rom inters~c'ian pol't:lrs to 'El'slabllsh dtJptb ,oi ~ir:!e wew;

3. (i)l;iMd lines Ore! from face view to' estafJJtsh Il'8rtical looa'tio'I'IS8'l1d dimensions ot side Ifi'eW,


Dr.awin,g IJp a Cut Li st tre m a IRendelriing


LA, ~ I'
11>/ ~
I !~
r--32in. ..

B~ -1'" I
I cJ h
- ~ I) 1;-001;- ,
I' I I, A I I
! ' I B)
~, ~
t !II 1
I, '~I,i"
~ ·~I' I

1< " "r;
v" I II I""
1--28in.~ ,h=I

t. Label components ,on rondellltl,g. 2~ Ma~ ,tq;J cm jist.

3. ChCi}c\!I' off labe'son ron'dell"ingsas PflU$ are ,rJsred on GU~ 1151.


S!{mbo~1 Parit, ,Qly. Widililfl, Leliigtlh So~ildl PI'!I.
A Sitce I 2 ]1 48 %
IS Top & Bot. 2 1'1 21 3i4
G Sh~lf ~O·%, ;31 3i4
ID &ck 31 4'7 VII
E ~Q$ 4 H'! 24 1~"
F Rails 4 2112 SO 1 If.,
G Rails 4 21Jt 8·1h 11'/., 48 in.


24 in"


When you are :satisfied 'I. ... ith the dTOl!'l",in:g. assign labels to each of the various components. (J genera.lly begin b.beling the largestpieces first. w'Orkin,g my \~ ,S}' down 'to the srna ]l,est.) Nleasu re the compo:nent!l, and record thei r

di mcnsions on ill cutli :i.1t (see the d rawi ng at right on the facing page). Be sure eo plate a check mark ne-xt to the labell symool OIl the drnwing when you record that piece on the list. As a final chock, compere the count of the n..scord!ed pieces 3g1'1inst the" num.ber of pieces 011 the drawing.

FinaU.y, before YOll begin eonstructi ng the box from jl'OlJrd'r3wing:;; and cut lists, a word of Glut ion: like it or not, you.r toolbox or ca binet will proba My become a f()[<lii. point of your shop. There, amidst

the landscapeof toofs, machines and materials, will be the fruits of your cabinetfllilklng s~ilb for all to see. I'm not saying you should be nervOIIJS about doing this project. After an, what:

woo(h .... ork~ng project C01.]ld be mere fq;JI~~ to design and build than one's m v n tool chest or cabinet? Instead, I'm encouraging you to s-ee the project as all opportun ity to do you r best work. This ts one example of your .\fOrk that you "Iotually get to keep and use eery day thar you spend jn the shop"

A mockup of the 1001 anCllng~ mE!nj. lor a wall cabinel em a streel of plywood, wilh temporary supoorls and parlition Il'IdlcalOls in placa Platles na ... e oo-en grouped ir'il Ihe inl@rtor atrove the drawer i!li8i!i1. and layout tools;are on the be..dk. 01 the door. Photo by Cr<lig Welsts.r.






ASide from practka ~ considers nons, there is historical precedent for wall-h ung tool cabinets, By the turn of this oen tury, some woodworkers had give'n up the traditional cabinetmaker's tool chest in £avo!!' of tool storage on the wall, These boxes are generally tall and 511al1ow-<3. practical shape fOf 11, toolbox that is to be hung on a shop '\I!la11. The demand forwa.lli-h 1iJ ng cabinets in the early [900s was apparently great enough to inspire a. nu.miber of commercial toolbox makers (such as \hI: Marples & Sons ofEngland and C. E.. Jennings of New York] to o:ffer~11-molu11l~d toolboxes in their catalogs, As you can see inthe photos on pp, 79-80, the offerin,g'S even included an

One of the most msgnificenr examples of a "VIla.U- h u ng tool bo~ is that of H, O. Studley" <1 gifted joinerand pattemmaker, Because the cabinet was built fwm the same materials with which one of his.

H. o. S1udlay'lS waJll-tiung toolcabinel. buiU .tiilllllfi'!d the 1l1r(i olll'!e cemury. oonl<1.i!"lS nearly 3(10 lools. Photo by Etic Long. Smi1ihsol1ll!B.n lrosm!.,l~ian.

By Itte ,etlrlylI90()~ some oommerroial ~oolbCtx manu~a(m.Jffirs ~lJer,M wall-hlJrilg cabinets, sucti as Ih is Marp:les 1);)01 'cabimet along 'o'IIith Iheir uSuOII lintii of traditiol'il1;l1 joiner's


chests, Photo CCl<Ur· res')!' of lila SmithsOrll~n li'iI~i~ution.

1m Ihis twm..of-II!1e. ,oeF'l~iJry plloto of the 'IMOrkShop' of '~he:Steirn.o/a,y Piano Co., W<ll!-mounted b:>ol .c-abine~s hllngallhe heM o~ each work.beman. Photo courlesy ,oJ ~ihe Smith· $ooian I'nsiilutoio.n,

e:m,p!~l'll constructed p,il'lfiOS hn8ihogany; en.ol[][¥, and rosewood .,·lith inlays of ivory and mother~f-pe<l.Jl. it is t:hougnst that St~ldley budt 'th~ 'box d~,rin.ghi$ ten'UlIot: 'I. « lth the Poole Piano Co" of :BOS1t1'J11, That would place its COltstruc:hgn between ]B90and. 19,20.

k> YOl~ can see: in dle photo on p, 76, Stqjd~.ey ma "a..g.ed to fit a ~markab!e number of too]llunt¢ a emall case (only 19 Y2 in, wide by 39 in, h~gh by 9'n in. aANp when closed], There ,\!'ere nearly 300 1!ooh jfisid~ the ca~ .. !),hef! it '1,\'.18 disa$~nlbled by the Sm:iithsonian [l;lstrtuJtionfo,r (.lell!lling and restoration, Studley arnLevOO this feat with equal m~.aS1lJ['es Q,f art]stry ana ~['iIg;enuirty, Using motifs from daS5ica~. arch iiteC'tuJ'e, he constructed srehed e"ndosu res, Gothicstyle swingiQgdoors and iUlltr.i.carte ~ift..up trays. These holding str.a~gi.es nestled the tools asclosely together as possible 'I."'i!:h.o1J.t oompmmisin,g their aocessibility. Most of the tools can be nlttlO·vM wirthQUit hav]n:g to mo\l'e anothertool out ofthe~vay_

Design Considerations

]c<\fl.oruy S~~ll..ate as.tothe reason t:r';ddition~J MOl dtest$ evotn-d into n~/lhong cabi:nets~n some ShOp5. Perhaps they '!/\rere crowded m1tby the additiorl of bulky machinery to shop floors ..I:read}, burg-,eonll'l,g wi.th. workbenches and. ilss~mbly areas, Or per~l"ps it WEI$ the conlil1.g of poured COIlO,l";te floot5- all unCQmfotta.bl.e- bl[Jt often necessary floorjng materielfor shops o'I,Jtfiuoo ~,,,it'h heavy machinery. Concrete's tend.e.ocy to rot any wood set <1Jg_ainst it may have been in'lipi ration enough to ,get c[;<!ftsmen 110 red.~"S~gn their teolboses.

\-t\1hll,e- Vile may never kI'lQ'l. ... , fur eertam why tUf[l:o(llf-the:--cell!:ury craftsmen

Tihi~ UFIII.J;'ua:1 cabini'll. ofierOO by C. E. Jefll. nililQiS 8.. Co, In ill cahal'og of around 19110, was, designedl to ril pnto II OOf!'ler (II! the shop. maKing use 01 a Iypici!llly '!\Iars.ad space,

LeU: A carri-ag€lm:!l~F'S wall-hung 1001 cabin~t. c. 18BO. Although a oraltsll18fi of this era and trade migiill haw' worked for a large oompany. his toOlbOX was BlPP8rel'lily Slillllis own, as evidel1loea by the ·prrtups." Photo oour~ssy 01 Ttre Mu;seume at StOii"l)" Brook,

AbQ'l.l'o&:: A rear v ;i~ o~~Im€ Sludll5'1' cilb'inel. shOWlll open an p, 75, Tvro IIl'iiOlUn1ingi rai'ls a I'IS Iit1:ed to lin€! back p;jIll.B:l. M!ffiing hedger smps woLlI'cl have been attached 10 Iile' shOp's wa I Muds.. F'Ml0 courtesy of 1lhe Smillison;.an Inslitution,


H~nging tOQI cabinet


Bench (32 in. to 34 in. high) ""*.1 H--~4...+-----li---'~

1 :1 e'll--; -=-~~

chose to mount their tool chests OIn the wall, I know why [ have don so: h:~ws a simple matter of space, Having done weodworking for many years out of a two-car gtira.ge, 1 became convinced. that keeping the shop Aoorde"1JJr of storage, especially at theperimeter, is one: of the best 'i\.~ys to maximiae the precious; open spsce, It is open space, possibl]y more I:h81'1. any other fa.d:or, that endows my smaU shop with the efficiency rand fkxibiUty l need to do woodworking contfm"tahly, safely, and at the commercialpace necessary to make

a living.

80 C &-1 A PTE R F 1 V r

No.te: The dime.n,sions gillen here ar:e .'or a pe~on ,0' B!te1S.g:e hefght 'faller WCX.'I(/W'Olke.rs may in¢!e8se ~'he maximum freight 01 the hangJng C8binet iin~d . bl(!oflch, btll should main rain rhe minimum space' $1'1()Wil .between MfI;Cfi .alid cabinet.


When looking fol" '~<lll space to hang a tool cabinet. the first location toO

-r;o:l1 sider is dill:! area over YO-lll:" pr1:rnafY 'NiJ.rkben.d1. Th~t is , .... here you'll likely "'{Ifill; to k p most of your hand bench tools and where your floor space is aireadyrominiued, Of course, this locaeion may not \,lI'Owk for yotluf you r bench is so wide and deep that you

wou ld have 't roubl" teaching into the cabinet. Note in the drswlng above how the useful height and. depth of a ,,,1\1] C<lb~flet relate to the depth of a workbench underneath ..

You can, hQ!"l,I'e¥er, reorient a workbench so thilt its narrow end butts against the 'w8i I, thereby aIlOl'\'i'll,g you to get at the tool cabinet from eieher side.

'That is how 'the benches were .arr.;1ng.~

i 1'1 the S'Oea f'i"l.'V9)' Il'iano Co. lsee the top ph-OliO on p, 78), You may, in met,. discover some additiollaladv'ant<JJg5 to this orientation, espedaUyif you us~the bench surface for assembly as '1'Y'l211 illS jo:unerywom. for ~ nsta nee, since you C<1Jt1 easily get a.t three sides of the project, you minimize the need to Ilfto\-te the assembly arou nd to work an it, In addition, if yOllJ atta.ch add,~tionai vises, you (an accommodateanother worker aJong the other side of the bench. This is a highly suirtable arrangement for school :)110115, where space and the need far '1rer:satiIHy are <lit a premium,

Yom shop may have ot her \,\1';;111- mounting areas you'd I ike to consider, but when slea.rching for that perfect lQl;:arUQTI., dl~re are rome other fa,C\;ors to keep in mind. For energy conservation (yours), hang tile tool cabinet as dose as possible to the place you'll be using most of the tools, In addition, make SU re that the box: won't block amy windo"" light when its doors are- funy opened, Als.o make SlI re that there is room to swing the cabille1i: doors flat against the .\1l.11 (see the tQpdraMtin,g om. the facing poage). [f swing-cut doors pose aproblern, you In:ight want to butld doors that disappear into the cabinet; see the bottom dra"l.\ring on the mcin,g page for some s~tjon5.

The finalcoflsideratioll hi. traffic flow-thec::abinet should ['lot 1nter'i'cl'e with lt in any way. ]f the cabinet isn't

hu ne. Oi;-e. a 'bench or othe<r fb .. "OO object, there will a h,,<!ys be the ris.k thillt you. or someone else will walk into it 01' stand lip un.derl'l.C'al:h it, YQ"l.1 can minimize rhrs hazard by pwdng the cabinet in an area where YO'll. normally do not 1I~'81k. [f }'OU hiIVe litele choice but to situate the

ca binet in the traffic pattern, pia 1'1 to make the box as 'Shallow as possible,


Loca.ting Wall Cabinets



C'8bin~t ;Ii, ,aoes nr)l brock 'ight fil"(lm window aJld is' easily 8J(;oos:si.!lJe fum, from or Mae.


Ei'Oth otthe.oo 'ooatfons may mt~.r!~~ with $'IilQJ;ltr:;"J!ir; pa!rems; so nei.llii!lf is iCle~j,

COOM~t Bltl!ocks window liglut from bench and is awkw~rl:1;tp reill'.cfl trom ttl~ '£fr;f~ ('lise gels in ~y). {I' miQ'h' be m(j1~ ComforUibleb Mft-hatJ(jlJ~


Doors that Disappear

'Tambour sflr:!es Oi::nin(;t .9 tals!!'} baC'k.

!fY ~
" II
, :11111
I Wall cab.r'net l8 too many' :S:l!lOl-P:!! <:!I~Y lrom f~fer:ld ofb~f.lCh.

Th€'Sfl t'€c.ll'lnil'qu~s O<!;I'! also be U'sed ~o .hide doors on th€!s'-d~'s of .the c:otbJ\Qet

.,' - '] .- " - '" T<JoT~~odi

.V.1\ •• .• LA., I N~. ~ - ':1:1' • ., .. '- -- -

rus bow-fronrt w~~h ung to(l'J cabinet, designed and b~ill by GaJl\8U Hac!':. 01 ThellO'Id Center. Vt., mal<es eoroellenluse of spate_ Small ilems, are i n drawers at the m ictd!e of Ihe cabinSI: moiding pl;:lll1e~ lililhe lo-wermost b<il'l, wMr€ Iheir profiles ar,e cleanly in Vde:W; aM h01nd!ed tools are Fleal !he rap of jh@ cabinsl on pegs Or redge&. PhQto b)'

Vincent LaiJrencE'_

1l:2 C H iI, !' T E R F I V E


uying out the I ntKriot of a w:al] ca binet presents some challenges net encountered when designillg;ll, tool chest that sits onthe floor, Because the wa II cabinet is generallyhung \ilrith its .!m....-e!lt point ,at 'Ch€lst!u!ight ('(!i.1J:her to fit over a bench or itO make the most .of the avai.lillble space beneath id. you must ol'refull,· consider ehe 'Wt'~ght of,e,am too] you plan !l:O keep there, I;k.cause your lar-ger back musdes can't provide mu.ch support to yQlUr arms at chest height and above, it. isn't comfcrtable or safe to store tools in a. '!vaU cabinet that \'~rei,gh more than about 10 lb. This problem is exacerbseed if a bench runs in front of the cabinet, fordngy'OlI to lean over W g,a.inacress to it_ You rn:a.r [teed to fi:nd another place, then, to store your plunge router orclrculer saw,

To make- the most of interior space, yal"l'U PrQbably 'Mllfl.t yO\:~r ca hi net to be 35 taU as YOIl.II: reach allows. But: bear in mind th.at 'th@ height of the cabinet will affect the design of the interior partitions. For example, you'l] find thort ioc;l!lI;ffi.g deep c:ompiil''tmenu near the top of a wall cabinet Jr!.lst d()e"Sn't 'wvork. Besides having to force your hands into. a n u nnatural angie to grab 3 nythi ng._ ma.ki.ng, it hard to get ~. goodgrip on certain i'~@ms,-you'U need "to ju mp Of stand on something to see "!lhat you have stored,

Instead of cornpertrncnrs, Jt's gcn~ra][)' better to oudit th~'wpnios'~ part of:a wan rnb:illet with pegs or 'brackets, from which you can hang longhandled tools such as Japanese ~a,\ s, squares. drill braoesand planes, (you'lJ ba~ to pierce the soles of metel-solcd planes or add ey.rebolts to the ends of weod-hodled planes). Since you can grab th~ tools low along their lefligth, it works to han.g them in the 1I pper areas o:F(h~ box,


The :srorog~ G\l.pa.cuty and versati]ity of a 'I. .. ~all-hun~ csbinet are much enhanced b~ drawers, Drawers can contal n aM manner of small tools and accessoeies that O'~herwise\,.,!ouki bediffkult to store. However, it is often diffiC:llIit to S~ i.nto the:': dl'a,wers of a. wall cabinet-in typkal in~1!al_l~tiol1s., cnlythe ]O\vesn

aMI!> of the ·boK <9i[\@ below eyelevel, Far I;h~reas:o!rL, rel;!itl\1ely smal], easily removable drn~rs werk best, 1(':he ·OOX is locilitedl neil. or Oiller <I bench, you'~! h.a~ the' opt:~Qn of ~tti:llg the drawers dov>rn on the ~nch tQ ~t at lIheir contents, lfthe:re is. no bench n~rby, you might censlder (as I did in the cabi net dcserfbedbelow) addi n.g a slide-out SUpiport trayto the bottom wthe cab:U[lUtl (seethe pha~o 8t~Op rtghtl.

Building a WaH-Hung Tool Cabinet

When I sat dQ'i,\I'l'il to &sign So ,...aLl·hung, tool cabinet, my intent 'i.va$ to cr,~ne a box tlla:t 1;,wuld ccntain an ample selection oHl1In.d tools inr IJotllayout and joinery-enou~h to allow mere do mosr of my typicalw(lrk wi.th.o~1: hav.ing to look elsewhere for a tool n planned to loeatethesetcols as dose as possibleto my WQI,k_ area at the vise end of my ~rol'kbenLh, where tlllczy >\I'ould be sceesslble, yet out of my way, As it hltn.OO (Jut, this (iJjb.~[let was aI1l~deal S\'lludon, Because il;hewo!·lade'rl. door :SW~ilgs, out tothe left over the open end ofthe bench, I C.Ul get <'It the tools stored thereelmost w.ithout taking a step--Ijust stretch out IllY left In and. Til us ls es:peci.3]ly cMvenicnt bcesuse I na:tl:lra.l]y 'i.'V<'In1; most I~YQ'I,:u;: 1;OO1~ in my k·ft hand. r usc my right hand to remove tn.€' dmllO'rlO:i oin$ and to :gmb the hand pbne5 stored on th.e right side of the cabinet.

B~t.am;ti: I'm ollie ofthrue restless people who !~ kc;: tilt ry out 00">'" shop

Jim 1iOlpi n's ioV8l1· tU,In;g 1001 cabinet f~a~ufes remO'lJable draw@r~. and a slideout sl[Jp~rI~ray. Photo by Cr.tlig Wesler.

Tofpin's wall·hung too~ c-abinel aouses ·!OOIS Jor layout and. jrnlilery. In its location close' 10 Ihe \lis€ end Dllh~ WQ!'itl;l€nch,llle" ~I;!inet blg.ck,s no IIOG!' spa\:e· yet i$ only Oil ~p. e)N~ ir'om where Ihe to01s awe tlsad. Photo by Craig wesla~.

8ie¢a}use Ih is c-a.bin~t liang S 0'11 B:r1Igied C!MIB. il can ear.iiy t)e t:ilk.en dOwll a.ru'j m~ 10 :IDOUiler 2Ue8l ol 1M shop" PflOfo Oy ClaigW>esllllL

CI-I.,\PTEi\ r i v t

1I1:r.ili.ngr;'m~n1;S (not to m~lldQn I!le'l'" shop buiJdin;gs) c'l,Iery rew y~a,rs, I design most of my cabinetry ansi other shnp fix,tures to be relative1y easy to move, This wa ~~hUl]g cabinet ~.5 no ~x.ception. I designed and buUiI: th is cabinet to hang on a pOlar of fuU"lfngth ''!,i'OOd(11 cleaes whose (:d~es l'd cm: 1i:Q a 4S <IIngJe (5(;e the photo at left), When [ \..rant~o tryout a differon:t C3b~r.'ii.etIOtllLi~'nil'l the shop. r screw a !:;lE}a~.wthe studs <1t the new 1o-c~dol:l, lift the ~ o:fft.l'te ,',ra.ll (I don't eW"JIl have to erupt}f it if! have a willing, helped and set it in ]t',s new heme, I lefl.IVe tile eld clear in place ]1'1 Lase I docide to move the eabi net back- for security, I C3U attach ehe ~abiMt pe:t.m3n~nd1·ttJ. th~ wall by drivin,g ~c~~ from lnslde the cabinet 1n~ thewsll-mounted dellrt.


Ttl make tnt' box suita.biy strong yet rela~iveiy easy and quid to buui.d, the caseand door cmnpo.l'lents 8rojoin~d wi.th biscuits, Thedoer is made from '!l·in. maple pl~''!lQoo;edgebandingof ~i-itl. thick solid n:tapltenhanees Hi.e appeara ace and P.Mect5 ~he plY'\'vooa edges from d~t€'r]aN!tH'I:g{:illi.d possib.ly eve:ntLla.Uy iSp.~in~rilllg) in use. To strengthen tile door so ]1; would Cil:rry thlil weight of my tools Wi.tOOlilit ciisl:QrHng.

I "ll;oored" the door by making this banding 2:Y~ ill. wide, The-case and interior psrtltions are buii.t from ~.i:n_ hare! maple boards ami the drawers

from YI6-jll, ]-Iond,uta.:smah<lgany. The dra',~1"' and slid.ing shelf pulls are c .. rved from ~oony,.

Si nee the faces of the drawers are visiMe even wieh the docrelosed, and bc:-cllus-ce<x.tl:ilC1:abk drawers should have stlron...g JQint!;, i opted foil' finger joints. Whul.e a flilimber of ether }'o.~nts miglhit serve as ltvell,! pankularly enjoytthe visua ~ inblrost t.h.s:t fil]gtr jOjLl.ts lendto the fate ala drawer box, and there is no ~uestiOIJ that they have tremendous.

VerficaJly efOlflgated sJcM&/t(Jw runnEl' IS to t1~actlu:s,ted up and down,

'k-in. p'1Wa'ood b .. ck

&ts",inI. by 2%,.in, door banc;ling




Ho;rldLirllS manog.an,y

G'fOO'!J9 ror drawer ru rU'lier


AU ease (;ompone-nts except bach are %-ir!, thir;~ hard m~'e"

"2"'iIi1. pl)!'W'Ood IP~nel



Face.slotting Itle side b-oard with a biscuil joiner. The bottom board is. clamped Qi;'er the side baWd. Eli> the scrap plece at rig'hh Ioelps SI!JPpor~ Ihe machine. Photo by Craig Wester.

strength because of their ex.tensi.ve gluing surface,

[ created. drawer slides by maid ng runners for the case from mahogany .'l nd c u tting a matching stopped dado in the side of the dra,rerb¢*es. The bottom panel of the drawers extends past the sides 110 serve as an adjlLiSta.ble drn,ver stop. This simp]e system provides positive sliding action \. ... 'ith l.itde wobble orbindlog. The puU-out shdHmade from 1f.Mn. maple pf.r,v'OOd \\I'"ith a facing of sol id maple)nts i nto its own oompa.rtmen.t beneseh the dral,..rers.

To· keep the'toolbox fmm getting grimy under my wM--50]led hands, ] finished it inside and out with several coats of dear s.hellac-<me of my favorite: finishes. She[lac: is ]0'1'" in toxJcity. exn:remely easy to :ip:plj', self-teveiing and


quick-d rying.. ]t also bllffs ,easily to 8 high sheen- However, shellac will not stand up '!/\reU to many sol v ents or to standing ""~'IlIter, but l'I!l:ither is much of a problem with 3J wall-hung tool cabinet.


Once you h.n.I<e drawn ;I flLlll~ize rendering of your tool cabiinet and used it to develop a cut list for aH the 'oompQnen~ br:e pp. 72-75), you are ready to asaemble ;'Om: maeerials and begin coastrectlun.

Preparing the parts

With your cut list in hand, lay out the' solid-stockcomponents 0I1l the boards and then cut them Quit to rough dimcnsion (add Y2 in. 'to the specified

1 ngths and at least YlI m, to tile: widths), N-I!".xt fin ish-plane the oversized componeets to dtei r to nai th ickness (S!8~1l .. fm·tlle case components and

-% .. in. for 'the drawer stock)_

NQII.'II' curt the components to final

... ~idth and length, with this exceptlore Cut t:he·dra' .. rer~id.es. face andl back

1;]6 in. over length. That way, when you cut the finger joi nts they wil"l protrude Vn in. past the corners. You'll trjm these ~oints flush after the boxes are essembled. Alwwairt to cut the door band ing and lts plywood panel to :fi nal size uflitil after the case is IIlswmbled, in order to ensure ill precise Hr. Do" however, cue the lll/y1..vood. for the: case back. and the dra~vet bottoms to 1:1lC'11' finishccl dimension, ta.king diagonal measurements to be sure tm.t these oompone-nts iI]'!!!: perFectly square.

M-kin .. dt se

T Q C peed 1.11 the work a nd to increase the .1CCil.r.3C)' of lfi1akl .'ig t 1'1(;' slots fur the bisosits, l have developed io1 method of Ilsing the' case cemponerns tlru:fIR~1\'C a 3 tool jig" This triC"k d05 twn III i'lll ~~: h: provldes a ~QIl,\'en1ent. whd bearing

su rrnoe against which to set the bJ'Sceplatt' f the rnn hine, and it !dto\\"s ~'(ly wher

o center til lots for bath the face and end ell ,

Beglfl by c1ampum g the bottom of the:

C~ On top I) , Dill' :oid ,holdj'I'i~ the: rumru=.r in from the end of t he side at exactly the ehickaess ofth-e bonorn

~ rd. Use II scrap of stock both IOSP1(c the board, theexect di!it<ln~c in from rh end and to act as an additional sup n

r the joi ner's baseplate during th

machining 111'oc 'SS, ~ I:n"in.,g marked dte

biscuit ct:J'iter1i Ili~ S 11 rhe tom board.

hold the joiner IJIprigh ad 31ign its: ba~p]~l.'te cent ~dj rut 1)0 th. ·1a)'01tI.( mark,

After making the slots, in the falJ~ of dn!' undefl,'ing side board at dl . cellter'~i ne mwks (see the photo ont be F,.ci n~ pJget hold the rnachll'l

'hori:z nt3lly and ru n it into the end of the bou m ~rd (see the photo a~)" ,!\gailn, be careful to align the machine's ooM!plaW' to t h~ (('.11 terl i Ili~ layout marls. Tocoot.inue the slotth~ process,

u nelamp thebottom boo rd ~nd damp anether ho.ru~ontilli comp;:mcl'lt ,:U its layout mark em th(t side board, Jkpeal.: the pi"QCC'SS uncil },'Ou\--e rna all the sims for this side of the case.

lend! slotting the 001- tom boa~d Wllh Ihe bisourt joiner, P11nlo by Craig Wesler.

After (l1,ttil'l~ d •• S~Ob '01" the entire case, ins't<l llthe d row.:r runflc (note the verticatlly dOI1E!lI...d pillot holt:'lO for tile ilittachm.elllt screws) and then dry-fit the oornponents.. There shouldbe 01,0 ,saps, at the butt jP:ints, and aU~he 'oompo~lC'l1IhJ shou'!d meet at the'll" layout marks. ~f

ftC es r)'. m:a~ fine adjU$lrnents by trimmin~ th shape ofehe biscwu.

\\'h rn ~u '" tified with. the fit. bseak the (;1St' down and l"1!mcn,"e the biscuits (kc 'I~ trn k of the orientarion of any biscuits ~'01JrVl;" 1l00d to liIlodil)'l Now j'O'll are read;' to assemble d'lC' Cil5C.

Begin byillljrttiC'l,g glue nn~ the '~!O'I!s ,'nl.d spreading a fihn of gh.lC' an the bi!'i,uits. Then ~ du~ biscuits and tllP the compon@llts togethel"_ Uft the

I'I~~ 1111 bl)" nto 'p3 if ofLeveled supports and ill, th damps, lo,e-n5ure that the

\\' ALL C ~\ IJ [ N E 11' S 87

Tile case is gluedll.lp with 1M aid of leve ing s>upporls. A dle:ck Qf dielgonal measure· mems ensures lhat the box is clampedl square. PI10l0 by Craig Weste:r.

assembly is square, check for uniform diagonal measurements across dle comers of the case (S:(i(' the photo a bove left).lf you need to make acorreeeon, 3idjrust the angle of dilimpiflg pressure, Once the g!lle has drled, remove the dampS and C!.i:t. the rablJ.:r.et to :rece--i\l'~ the Vl-'in. maple pl}"l'<uod back panel. (J used a. router fitted. with a ra.hbt4ing bit to 1TI00ke th~ cut, then squased the rounded corners with a cblsel.) Fi nally, glue and ta.ckthe back panel in place,

:Build~n.g: the door

Aftex-Cliltting the door banding in rough length .. mill a dado along irts inside faces to rec!'!ive the door panel. Ne-xt, cut the bandi:n!g's ends 'with :mirer joints at I:he finished lengthaJl!er checking the size of the door o~n~ng in the assembled case, To join the m~ter with a 'biscuit, run the joiner into 'the moe of the mirter as shcn"'11 in the photo :I hove right, Alter cutting the !i!-i n, p!j'l\'ooQ door pa net to ~i:re, make a rabbet aroond ~~. perimeter to fit the dado cut into the banding. Bevel the


CHAPTER r i v s

TM mitered e-nds 01 1M door banding ale :stolted with a biscuil jOiner. Photo by Craig Wester.

11!:lI:JXl5ecl edge of the rabbet for IOQk;s,. Aft-er dry-assembling the door to chock the Firt, break il: down and re<ls~mbje it with glu!t and clamps.

BlLlliik'l~llig, the drawers, 9pd iSHde-aut sh'tlf

The ~ey to making tjght~fhting fingt"f joints on the table-saw is 'to use a jig that will index the C'Ut:> pred~I'Y while ·amying the parts smoothly bj' the dado blade withotlt a~,y I'IDtioc-ablt" side play. Once SUd1 a fixture is set \lp for a cert, in


.;er spacing, it: wm produce [00f after of the joints with micrometer-l ike

re ·15lOn.

After some experlmenration I came ith a j ig that meets these ewo irements Gee t 11. top d ra:wing at

!J. To. tn:adex thecut with precision, I e me indexblock from a piece of y-a dense 'wood. high lyresistant to r, lfit sholJ Id eventua Ily '~\<e<l r, I can

.y replace it by unscr'i'!\¥ing it from its ch in the fence, To eni;lJll:1~' that the jig,

d nUl smooth ~y ~ii.d without side made jts runners ,(l",'hidl slide in

table saw's miter grilOVes) from ~tTIli&ht-g'l<linoo Lengths of teak, a .. \I'OCId • J[ is hard, stable and se~f-lubric<IJting. I made the runners $ti:ghtl~ ~rsi'Z.oo, then scraped them dO\"n until they had . u t the right amount of resistance with no side p1aywh.a.tsoev:el'.

Since the distance between the block nd the dado blade is critical, I made th ig with a dOllh~~ fi::nce. The inside fence: carr~1ng the index hlo,!'; slides back and

nh against the eueside fence, Jocking III pilll:e with C clamps. (Someday perhaps ['II dean Up' the design by ~plac.ing the damps w ith through bJ,tts run through slotted hO'~I:~.) ,F-or details how eo IJS@ the jig. S6e the sidebar


After 'cu.tting the fhlge'n> fur all the

7 corners, cut the dado for the bottom nel into the faee and sides ([ used a

· orting cutter em my uMe--m(),U'!:Itoo :Jter). Then dry-assemble the box. The

· ngen $'hQu\d protrude s\ightly I( '131 in, if you CUrl: the pieces a totlli of YIIS In.

· -ersize). A:feer cbeckil .. g to see .ifthe 'nts are tight a.nd tlrtat.d.1.f; ~ is sq_u;a.re lind free of warp, proceed to glue the

x up around its bottom panel, When the aM~mbly is drYI chisel. back the

I' rotruding Angers and lightly round ever .111 the exposed 00g~ (] used a !I$-~n, andover bit installed in a. trim router).

Fil1ger-,J,oint ,Jig

Index booclOl ~ailecl to, width and

height erf finger j~ifllt) --- __ ~

'It:.!i-in. by tHI1. adj ustabl'e backteooe

Slot CUi by dado blade

'h-in, hardwood pl~Qdbase

RUIiii'lEiI'$ (fit mLter gr~s In SelN tab1.el.......-_-

%-in. tty 2 'i:.-ifll, firOl'lt f-ence

,Routing Draw er-Run n ar Grooves

W ALL C A In NET s tlo'fodi


Be.ghl by c3Ireful1y

prepari ng the stoc k to b~ fingel'-jo]neci- The pieces shouid be of !2:Xllictly the same thickness and width or the joints will not Come out even, MakJ extra pieces to be used as scrap stock for ~tin,g lip th j1ig, At. an aesthetic rule of thu mb (and 1lo rna ke setup a bit easier). pl~n eo make the width of the fi nger jeints equal to the thickness of the stock After cutting the- stock to length (I usually make the parts exactly YI6 in .. mrers.ize so [ can later trim the 'liz-in" protruding fingers at each oosner flush). separaec the 'OOfl'l'pO"oenQ;s inlO two piles: ends (fronts and bach)

and sides,

Install a dado blade :l.f't up to cut the desired finger width, Now place the jig On the aw table and begj n the setup process, First, set the sawblsde height equal to 'the

th lckness of the stock pl us

1(32 in, fur trim mi.ng. Next" by loosen i flgt'he C-c la mps and moving the back knee, set the lndex-block spacing. The block should be Iixed at it distanceaway from the side of the dado blade cxactly equal to the width of the cut,

No.v make a t~t CI..!t, uslng 'one piece of ~L<lP ttl represent a ~ r;ide and another to represent <In encl. For the cleanest cut, lift the st-ock from the jig after pu shing j t through the sawblado-do not bring it backward thrnugh the spinning blade, Ehhejoiilts are too tight (you \>I':alll: the pieces to fit easily togt"ther without any forcing), move the b1nc:k C~O*TItD th~ dado blade, If the joi.nt is so loose you can see hairline gII'jJS between the fingers. move the block away. Notre that due' adjustment range here is'!iery :s.m;a~I-)'Ou n~ only c.hange

the back fence of the jig ar,e secure and that the blade'height adjustm~llit on the table saw is locked dow» tight. NO\,\I' run a]1 the:sia.{>s through the sa.w, i1I[igni 1"118 the edg of

t he stock to the sid~ of the dado cut as shown in the drawing.at.I"i.ght, Finally, run aU the fronts and backs.

the block-to-blade spacing a few 'thQ~IS<lnd1ih$ of an inch to affect the fit of tile joint,

\Vhell yOIll are happy with the look and feel of the joint between the two Si([ap pieces, )roll are ready to cut the real thing, First, though, check to be sure that the c-<::Iamps holdl n.,g the adj usta hie fence 110

Finlgle~~Jloint.Jliig Ss tup STAiRnN(;, FlOemON FOR:



Irnd.ex ~ool!i

Dado cut in J-ellce



This distanc~ eqllats :the width of th~ Ctllt made ,by th~ dlido bJariff!:.

IMex tl~Qck.

Hold Siri~' even to side' of (j~d() cur in adjustabJ,e ba,ok fenoe.


90 CliAI'TER f~VE

Using 3 table-mounted router fitted with a J/-t-'inl. straight bit, Cult the groO'v(t for the drawer ru nners .alongthe sides of each drawer (seethe boaom clr;nlliH'!l.g Of! P: 89). Be sure to t.eot the depth ~nd thelocation of the cut on a ~I8iP piece of stock first, Notice that the stop Mock prevents the groove from running t.hrol!gh the fa~ of the d['3\iV€'!;, Also. because the grom~ is cente:r,ed on the drawer side, you can flip th@ drn .. ver to

J'OO1/',e the other side of the box without ch.anging any settings,

F~fIIIll:>hi~ up'

Slide the drawers Into their runners in the else and check to see hQ'v •• smooth1y they opemte. You cal'! tr]m the: • ,of the runners with (I small semper blsd to fine-tune the motion of'the dra'\l\re'r. To

al ign the drawer b<»!: 11:0 the case, slide the runners up or down akiIl,g their slotted. screw holes, Ift:he drawers protrude from th,e case, the back Qfthe bottom panel is hitting the back ofthe case too soon-trim it back shghtlywitl1 a plane. Ru b und!e \"'01IX iinto the' _gfOCV(l On the dra ... ver side to ensure a smooth. :sliding action. Next, iiru;tal] and then trim the ~d~~ of the slide-eut s<helf!Dr ease ,()f operation and fit, finaJly, a,pply the finish of your choice to aU the exposed wood surfaces.

Willi 1118 door propped UP on support blocks, 1M piano I'lIrlge IS iMlalled. ~oto by Craig Wester.

To complete the tool chest, ClItOlJlt the pieces: rorthe h.an.ging cleat audi spacer and screw them to the bad oft-he case. Then. with the case lYin.g on its. back on the bench, set the dloor next to it on SOme support blocks_ Hofdiiltg the door temporarily in place with clamps, proceed to screw on the piano hi rite (see the photoabo\llel With the box still lying on the bench, instaU the locking caech and. add the interior partitions, ledge'S and holding fixtures. Rl!la]!}'. pick. up the 00)( end 1;:<1["1), ~t to where j'OlJ"v-e ir.l:stllHed the recelvlng cleat or! YO"i:r shop wall \!\Iith the cabinet nov; hanging in place, it's time fort:he mast enjoyaMc part of the job: installing your che[ishootoors in tlle'.ir new home,



Cabililelmak.er Mtlr~ha Collil'1lS-, of Sequim, Wash., instalted Ini6, e;.:panalva SlanuLlig cabin~1 near nel'workbench. PhOh) by Richanj Schneider.


he standing chest ]S one of the most efficient (and somewould sa.y most attractive] ways to store a. collection of hand tools. It is not, however, necessarily everybody's best solution; A standing tool cabinet, though relati vely na rrow, still demands a ch tl nk of floor space--usually at the juncture of the floor and the ""rat!. In a. small shop.thts is a particu lar[y val uable area, as. it is one of the few places where [parts can be collated 3 ncl stacked out of the "vay~ or where damped assem b]i~ Cal nbe lea riled to drywi thout being disturbed. The decision to take 3'lA13}'" even 3 little ohhis prime, in-shop rea] estate should not be made lightly.

A standing cabinet, iii. order to (ontain <11 decent number of tools at a comfortable workingheight, must bea rather imposlng piece of work-es high. as the top of your head, (or higher) and! as wide (with the doors opened) as your outstretched arms, This requirement ]s

net, of eourse, necesssnly a problemtool storag@ is as good a use' fOIf wall space as any. But it does mean )'all must find a place for 'this si:za ble chu nk of ubi netry dose by your main workbench, yet not so close that it could interfere with your activities there. And 'One set in this location, the cahinet (with or without its doors open) should not 'black :my fU!Ul.,al light available too you]" work ar,ea, NO'r sl101.1 Id tiUt opened doors block access to other tools. or materials stored on the ,,~d.s to eithe.1I" side, If you are lucky enough to be designing your own shop space, it would be wise to conslder the placement o:f yoor standi ng 1001 cabinet aswell as YQlJf major workbenches <lind S'tat:iornarymachines W~lJe!"l developi Ill;! the floor and "dndo,,,,' plan.

94 C HAP r E lit S r X

A Cabinet that Departs from Tradition

Several decades ago, fUTfiltm'(! maker David Powell, nOlI'!' of Easthampton Massachusetts, went towork m the renowned. "mruhops ofEd'war,d

Bam~tey iu fro:didd. England.

Surrou nded by masterweodworkers who hadlearned and refined their skills ]~ ehe Arts and Crafts era, thatIlowered lin the early years ohMs centurj, Poll'lfell received a rich, inspiring education that l<!ft him with a IiIfelong dedication to fine \'I{lochwddng. Yct.when ~t came time for him to bu.ild a. chest for his hand tools,

he passed over tile traditional cabmetmaker's chests that surrounded him, histead, he struck out Of! his own to desJgn and build a box ul'ILqu~ly 5ui~ to his needs .. For ~U, the classic clles.t wouldn't do-he feh. the layered storage

Not cornvinDed IIh;at Ihe trsdiiional cabine1m~~r'~ chest of his, mentors would 0061 serve i'l[5 needs, master furnitm'e maker

and teaCher [).alfjd Powell slruek oul on his own 10' del>ign a s~anding COlt:ljnel. DElcad(;>S laber.

he conlinues to 9fljoy (he onesrs superb a.cces~bilitiy. Photo by Vino~nl Laurence,

titls opening into an empty well \'Vas-ted space and made access to many tools more difficult ami tisne-oonsuming than necessa:t)'- He also could not see btliLdim.,g a box that would s.il: on the- floor, forcing him to. bend or crouch down eve"ry-t1me he ~nted t.O &e,t at a tool.

Starting with a blank piece of paper and an idea of ,.",hat he didn't 'iV3nt, po\yellbegan designing his t,OO:lbox_

Havi ng designed and btl ilt a number of tell furniture' pieces, he wasn't surprised lio discover that an 1)pl"igilt stfllttding cabinet seemed to offetthe ideal solution. In the upper halfofthe cabinet Powell drew in drawers to organize 1'Jj mlliltitude·of small tools, 11] the remeining sp~.ce. he created ill varjety of p~I1Lho.les to (ontain his collection

of planes and other assorted tools. TO' hold bulky items such as panel S3\VS, Yankee screwdrivers, sqlJ<I'res iliad other lirYOu't tools in plain view :and ready fur instant use, he designed a pail' of Sliur-dy


swing-out doors and a 1ift~p top lid. To al."Oid creating difficu[t-to-reach storage areas near nOlO']" Level, while at ,the same lime bringing the rest of the case to a comfortabJe working height. Powell decided i::osupport ,tle esse on a :sin'lpl~, open-base frame.

Now. '1('11r$ hI.tel" and many thousands of miles a:~\l'/lY from Bar:ns1ey's shop, Powell st:ill works daily out of this

sta nding toolbox, Created in a place and time ",,,here the tradltional cabinetmaker's chest relgeed supreme, his standing cabinet has proven to be as easy a nd efficient to 'Use as be bad hoped, And! now; having himselfbecome <li master craftsman who has (N rseen

the ed,'UCliJ,'tion of ma.ny asp;i.i ng woodworkers, his tool-stora~ solution has inspi red and engendered the creations of cO'!JJJ!Ild~ offspring.

A Standing 'Cabinet for Shop and Site

If the type of woodworking y<l'U do demands that you be versatile (perhaps J'O'tI spend half i''OlIf time building fme futni:t.ure in 10i.1! shoop and the other half inst<il]j I'lg doors and trim in new homes}, th~1l you tn3y \'Il'(IIl.t to des:ign your primary tool-storage system to be vetsatme as \o;·ell. When Sh~Mon Perry. of TaJm~,'IIorth, Ntl'll' Hampshire. set out to build hiITlself a too!box,he was jnju~t this s:itua'flon. Appreciating the ease of access and veluminous storage area a standing cabinet wall ld pl"OVid,e lii!!; shop. he was unwilling to do '''''ith less when he worked on s,~te. The (haUenb~ was to find a way to maks eh cabinet serve roth facets of h is work situation equally well.

Sheldon P,enrydecid8dlhall1iS stai"lding cabinet t\e;d 10 serve him in hiS sihOP and on buuldingsites. His des:ignfeatlJres remO'll'at!lle tool bmHdlS. dr,awer lill ,and SlJIPporl siaM. and <iI Mwed front thial mainlains amp!s. intefiQr volume wihile' giv,ing the box a mors maflageallie shape. PhOto by Brooks [)odrge'.

S T A iN D J N G TO.O LeA BIN E T S 'Tawodi


The solution 'anne when Perr~~ happened on the idea of cre<Lt]ng removable "tool hoards:" These boaro:s-one fitted to ((IrT), 5tl'WS ami the other a selection of planes and spokeshaves-would perform equally well whether fi1rudl i11to the cabinet: for shop \vork Or il'1stalk-d on II job site. The till of drawers is also

rernova ble, a ~ 100\mj Ill: it to be independent of !;he mother esse,

To make the esse itself easily transportable, Perry had to HmH its we~&ht and bulk iIIS1111Jlld~ as possible .. The gentle 00.'1' designed into the filce of the cabinet both enhances the- looks of the box end reduces its mass, yet sacrifices only a minimum amount of vcluffi{', And becaese the epee 005ie support is indcpGncient of the case, the the cilbinct~s mrtl'al[ size-and weight are


Andy Rae's toot cabifilel is 7 'I, tall, 6 ft. wi e (wilh doors openedl arid 1 Vi II. deep. II is built of HMduras maho-gai1'ly, lige~ maple and birch pl)'Wood, fli'lo1o toy John Hamel.

significantly reduced. To previd carl"~' poi nts, Perry created hand gril)!> by cuttillgeiongat(;-..ci holes into the center partition. Notdle5- cut al.on, the ed~~'S of the door provi.de U'I, attractlve, yet enrirely functional, access W these grlps, To keep tl.l€ tools: in place en their support pegs Or brackets whilethe case is. being transported. Perryad<:kd miniature bungee cords to the tool

apports. He ireluO\res tile cords once the box is set up-either in th.e shop or on a job site,

An Outstanding Standing Chest

Foncn:!{l.-ilirS, fl..lrniturenlaker Ano},R,ae, of Lel1hutsli'ille, Pe-nl'l~IIf"Hlia. ruminated On the idea ofibuildi'n,g a standing tool chest tmat would be large 81td Qompl,e:;,n~n.Oll.gh to {Ontain the hun, of his hand tools. 'H'hlaUy, with the acqulstion of five beaut ~fhlll matched Ilitches of Hondm''3.s mahog;:my a riel a fe-.,v prize tiger·maple boards, the time had a rrived , Gathering together the' tools to be stored, he arranb~ them in various groupings. measuringthem until he fillan~· got the design down 011 paper, T!H~r1 the ['Uil began.

Rae be;an. cortst.Q.ictioll by :mllkirtg ~h.e case frnm~mrk frotn mahQJ¥I~lY, joi!"'li rig it ro~her with he~ty mortiseand-tenon joints. H~ used sliding dovetajis to attach the divldess and shelv!l:s to the fil'il"tne. To build "the upper OOK-typC doors. he surrounded <1 :solidiwood panel , v ith four boards joined a11