I made a tool chest as a present for my brother-in-law, who was an interest in woodworking too. We draw names every year at Christmas, and a year ago I drew Jay’s name. I built a large tool chest and stocked it with a set of chisels (which I flattened and sharpened), a sharpened and cleaned Stanley #4, and a copy of Paul Seller’s book. I think Paul’s book is one of the best books to use to get started in hand tool woodworking. The chest had dovetailed corners, a shiplapped bottom and plenty of room for tools.
Before making this chest, the only tool chest I’d made was one for my son a couple of years earlier when all I had was a pull saw from home depot and a late model Stanley #4 with plastic handles and a non-adjustable frog. This chest was nailed together, and the joints covered with trim. The project was one of those “I can do it” projects from Popular Wood Working.
The tool chest I built for Jay was a little more moro to build, but then my woodworking skills had progressed too. I was inspired by the tool chest in the book “Grandpa’s Workshop”, although I came up with the dimensions through a roundabout means that I won’t ever repeat. It’s a little too big front-to-back, but I did that to offset the fact that it’s only 11.75″ deep.
In retrospect, I’m surprised I could build this on the workbench I was using at the time. That workbench was terrible. It wiggled around and the vises wouldn’t hold a board at all. I had to try and saw in time with the wiggles.
Once I had the four sides dovetailed together I nailed on the bottom, using shiplapped boards with a beaded edge. I used cut nails, which were a joy to use.
For the top I glued up two wide boards, and planed the resulting plank smooth. Some 1x trim for the edge and a pair of hinges and I had a box to store tools in. The skirt is mitered at the corners and nailed on, this covers the ends of the bottom boards.
On the inside I made a simple saw till and chisel rack. The chisels are a set of “Wood River” but chisels that were on sale at the time. The backs weren’t especially flat, I spent a couple of house flattening the backs before I sharpened them.
The final finish was a coat of “Cherry” danish oil and several coats of orange shellac. If I had it to do over I’d probably use plain linseed oil and garnet shellac. In the end, it came out nice and Jay was very happy with the present. The chest has ended up as a piece of furniture in his living room instead of being relegated to the garage, which isn’t a bad thing.