Japanese tool chest

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Project by Chiaroscuro posted 11-03-2017 07:50 PM 3872 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, this project was a lesson in frustration. I took the plans from a SketchUp file that I found randomly (sorry I can’t give credit to the designer although I did modify the plan quite a bit). It should have been a fairly fast project… but it wasn’t.

I had been by Woodcraft and seen some African mahogany that wasn’t that expensive, so I dedided to use that as the primary wood. I had a few days for a project so I milled it up and was set to go the next day. However, we had a random hot / dry streak (days in the 105 F range on the coast and humidity close to 0). It was too hot to work in the garage, and the wood moved every which way.

I was left with a project already cut to length and milled to width and tons of warped boards. I did what I could to save stock, cutting up the bigger boards into smaller strips and laminating them in opposite directions and using lots of glue, clamps and pins.

In addition to the warping, I was not careful when measuring for the bottom panel which I was going to sit in a ¼ inch slot in the bottom of the 4 panels. I was excited to use my small plow plane for the project, but somehow I actually cut the panel to the exact size of the gap. So then I added the feet, and attached the bottom to the feet. While there are 5 pegs visible on the bottom, 3 of them are decorative and two of them are glued in to one side.

The feet are 3/32nds inset into the edge of the tool chest and the bottom is inset 3/32nds onto the feet so the bottom is flush with the sides.

The body is mahogany, the top pieces to close the lid are cherry, and the pins are walnut.

-- Todd

6 comments so far

View Ivan's profile


17143 posts in 4207 days

#1 posted 11-03-2017 08:20 PM

I see incredible effort and level of craftmanship here. Very nice chest. I like that wood colour and grain- awesome!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Chiaroscuro's profile


157 posts in 2115 days

#2 posted 11-03-2017 11:09 PM

Thanks Ivan! I really like that chest that you restored – amazing.

-- Todd

View NotaJock's profile


186 posts in 2439 days

#3 posted 11-04-2017 01:22 AM

Even without your tale of woe it’s a mighty nice looking box.
I particularly like the lock, I’d not seen that before,

-- Mike in SoCal, now East Texas

View Chiaroscuro's profile


157 posts in 2115 days

#4 posted 11-04-2017 03:34 AM

Mike – if you look for them, these things are everywhere :). It was my first try, and I didn’t want any screws, and I work almost exclusively in hand tools (I dimensioned the wood using power tools, I’m waiting on my scrub plane and without one that is not fun – I also sanded with a power sander because… I don’t find that enjoyable). I made things more difficult for myself. If you allowed yourself screws, it would be a very fast, fun, and fairly easy build (without the through tenons). The lock is pretty cool. I have a 6:1 slope on the lid and the lock which snugs everything tightly. The lock is cut long so there is always something available to hit with your hand to unlock it. When I sanded it ended up a bit farther through than I had intended though. I may or may not make another one. When I feel up to it, I am going to build a till as well. Possibly two or 3 (it’s pretty deep).

Sorry for the iPhone 90 degree turn, but you can see how they interlock.

The other end is pushed over and captured.
I do really like the end grain walnut – it almost looks like Ebony.

With the lock undone.

-- Todd

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4207 days

#5 posted 11-04-2017 02:52 PM

This is a beautiful Japanese tool box and it displays a lot of nice details and craftsmanship.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View muesli's profile


510 posts in 2849 days

#6 posted 11-05-2017 08:31 AM

That’s a very nice looking chest and a cosy place for your tools.

-- Uwe from Germany.

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