Tool Chest #2: Starting the Shell

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Blog entry by CartersWhittling posted 05-02-2012 02:44 AM 5203 reads 4 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Design and Materials Part 2 of Tool Chest series Part 3: Sizing the Shell Parts »


I happened to have little work today, so I had time to do some work on the tool chest.

A few weeks ago I had skip planed all the parts for the shell, and some of the oak. Skip planing is simply using a heavy set plane to remove the twist and warpage in a board. Thats all. You do not use a try plane or smoother at this point. By skip planing the lumber before hand, the lumber has a second chance to warp if it has to, since there was fresh wood removed from both faces.

Now a couple weeks after I have skip planed, the lumber has done its final “morphing”, if it needed to.

Today I finished planing the parts to have them glued up.

First I laid out all the shell parts on the bench, and picked which pieces would be glued together to create each side of the chest. I marked on each board which direction to plane, so that I could match the boards according the grain direction.

These four parts will create the two long sides of the chest. I also matched the short sides up the same way.

I then began flattening one face of each board. Since I had skip planed previously to remove the warping, it was little work now to get each face flat. Because the pine is so soft you can get away with a slight twist or bend in a board. As long as you make sure the board is held straight when you lay out the dovetails, the joinery will pull any small bend out of the boards.

Use winding sticks to check for twist.

The far right is a tiny bit high, though the picture hardly shows it. Since it was so little, I didn’t bother spending the time to remove it. (I have a strip of green tape on the stick in the back. My winding sticks are each 4’ long, and can connect together to create a 8’ straight edge. A very useful tool.)

I next jointed each edge that was going to get glued. I first used a scrub plane to remove the rough edge on each board, and get past any splintering that might have occured when I skip planed.

I then clamped two boards that were to be glued together, and book matched the edges. By planing the edges together (with a plane that has a straight iron), you do not have to have the edge square to the faces, the joints will still match creating a flat face across both boards.

When I make edge joints I often create a slight hollow in the centre, creating a spring joint. If your edges have that small hollow (paper thin), then when you apply clamps (particularly across the centre of the joint) you will close up the hollow creating a tight joint along the entire edge. No more gaps on either end of a joint.

So after each set of boards were planed try and true, I glued them up.

After each joint dried I cleaned up each face with a smooth plane. This surface will be the inside of the chest. I made sure that this was the prettier side, since the outside will be painted.

I also jointed and thickness the boards for the bottom of the chest, and glued up the panel for the lid.

By the end of the day I had all but one of the case sides glued up with one face smoothed. Tomorrow I will thickness the boards to about a heavy 3/4”.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

13 comments so far

View Brett's profile


950 posts in 3269 days

#1 posted 05-02-2012 03:17 AM

Looking good Carter! I always enjoy reading your posts on your projects. You do good work!


-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View thedude50's profile


3610 posts in 2988 days

#2 posted 05-02-2012 04:04 AM

Carter, I put you at about 20 to 25 years old way younger than the guys who got to take shop in school ,and I am taken by your skill for such a young man. I would like to know how and where you learned these old woodworking secrets that you possess. Did you go to one of the schools that teach woodworking or are you self taught and got this knowledge from books. I am 50 and I am a solid woodworker I class myself as an expert and still I learn new things from you. I read books on woodworking every day. I have for years and most of them are repeats of things that I already know. Not that I don’t like learning from you but more that I would like to tap the source of your Knowledge base. so that I can add what you know to my Arsenal knowledge. If you don’t wish to share this with me IO will understand but I try to know everything about wood working. If you prefer please Pm Me the information if it is several books can you giver me the isbn so i can order these.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10737 posts in 4562 days

#3 posted 05-02-2012 04:20 AM

Carter, you’re doing GREAT!

I will enjoy seeing the rest of your progress on this project!

I also look fwd to your answer(s) to TheDude’s questions… LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 3271 days

#4 posted 05-02-2012 12:06 PM

I have to agree with thedude50, your skills are quite impressive. I do not wish to flatter you but you really have talent. I’ve been an avid woodworker for good part of my life and I am just now learning how to use some of the more basic hand tools. Primarily because I’ve never had anyone to teach me. This web site has been an invaluable source of learning for me.

As with the others I also look forward to seeing your progress on this project. I also look forward to learnng some new skills. Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View Julian's profile


1484 posts in 3200 days

#5 posted 05-02-2012 03:15 PM

Looking forward to your future postings. I agree with the other comments; you do a great job and seem to have a natural talent for woodworking. I first learned woodworking over 30 years ago; mostly in high school (cabinet shop for 3 years). But I don’t recall that much emphasis on hand tools. You appear to have a good grasp on the use of hand tools which requires more skill and experience than power tools & machinery. Keep up the great work.

-- Julian

View CartersWhittling's profile


453 posts in 3184 days

#6 posted 05-02-2012 06:28 PM

Thanks for the comments. I am glad folks are learning some things, I am not just posting this stuff for my own fun, haha. I am not sure exactly what books I would recommend, I do read a fair amount though, but I think a lot of the learning comes from being in the shop a lot. I would recommend Bob’s blog and podcasts to anyone wanting to learn basic hand tool skills and techniques

If you do not know who Roy Underhill is and you want to know hand tool work, then you need to watch his show and get his books now! I have found some of his books in my public library, and on PBS or his site you can watch his show

Also search for “Peter Nicholson’s – The Mechanics Companion”, “Jospeh Moxon’s – Mechanick Excercises” to read.

Although I have not read through all those books, there is lots of interesting info.

But just spending a lot of time in the shop using only hand tools will quickly develop your skills. I have milled boards with only hand planes, and when heavy work is neccesary I use my thickness planer. But I always joint my lumber by hand. So I have had countless dozens of hours planing wood by hand. I almost always cut joinery by hand as well.

When you do everything (or almost everything) by hand you learn how to take short cuts, predict how the wood needs to be worked so you can spend less time fighting with it and pick wood that will work with you, not against you. I have personally gotten to the point that I rarely ever consider using a machine (besides my bandsaw and sometimes thickness planer) to do a job, because I know it is quicker, more fun, less dusty, safer, easier, takes less space, cheaper, and more quiet than using a machine to do the job. Plus, half the reason I do woodworking is because it is enjoyable. To me building tools with machines doesn’t produce as much satisfaction and enjoyment as when I build things with hand tools.

I find working by hand also changes your view of furniture. I find I no longer desire absolute perfection, but structural strength, integrity, and having a personal connection to each piece. Furniture you can tell a story about after.

I am 19 by the way.

-- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord... Colossians 3:23

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4230 days

#7 posted 05-02-2012 06:49 PM

19! OMG! Such skills at such a young age, self taught! You are my hero. It took me until I was 40 before I got serious about this hobby. You’ve got a great start here. I ‘m enjoying this build and looking forward to building my own tool chest soon.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3314 days

#8 posted 05-02-2012 10:38 PM

It’s lookin good already

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3662 days

#9 posted 05-07-2012 02:17 AM

very nice, Carter, its going to look great, looks like a fun build.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View thedude50's profile


3610 posts in 2988 days

#10 posted 05-07-2012 05:48 AM

Carter I don’t mean to beat a dead horse and I will look at the stuff you pointed to but is this the source of your knowledge base. a blog ? I am unclear about this I would like you to kindly point out where you learned how to use hand tools and where you learned about them. I am looking to start a school and I need to have students leave my school with the tools you have developed. I know some poor slobs who have been intermediate woodworkers for 50 years and they will always be middle of the road wood workers i HAVE BEEN WOODWORKING LONGER THAN YOU HAVE BEEN ALIVE YOUR 19 SO YOU MAY HAVE AS MANY AS 12 YEARS IN THE SHOP But along your road you found a key to a knowledge base that i need to be able to teach students and have them leave a 3 year graduate program with the skill set you appear to have. so if you could please call me and discuss the books you used and the places you learned your skills I will be most grateful my number is 559-790-6295 I am on California time so please cann from 10 am to 9 pm to speak with me. Again keep up the wonderful work and I look forward to hearing from you .

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10737 posts in 4562 days

#11 posted 05-07-2012 08:05 PM

Dude, you just informed the World about your phone #!

You are going to be on every list one can imagine…!

Hope you don’t have to change your number!

Enjoy! LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View thedude50's profile


3610 posts in 2988 days

#12 posted 05-08-2012 01:23 AM

joe my number is alll over the world wide web i dont care who calls if they are a jerk ill block them

-- Please check out my new stores and

View SubVette's profile


76 posts in 2056 days

#13 posted 04-16-2014 06:01 PM

Wow, very informational. I learned alot from this site and your “blog”. I just started with using hand tools. The transition to hand tools is alot of fun and much more chalenging. Thanks for your time and information.

-- John in Florida

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