Chisel till

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 07-12-2018 04:37 PM 1851 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In the ongoing quest to get some of my bench top back for actual woodworking, next up was a chisel till. His started as a cheap ($7 from the bargain bin) scrap of birch, 3/4×6 x 24, which I resawed, ripped, and crosscut so I had 3/8×3 pieces. The finished till is roughly 15×18, so I have some small scraps left. The back is a piece of Baltic birch ply, 1/4” thick. Holes in the shelf are 9/16 and 12/16, spaced on 1 inch centers for the small ones, and 1.5 inch centers for the big ones. Then I cut down to the holes using my 1:4 dovetail gauge to lay out the angles.

I planed the outside surfaces smooth, but left the inside somewhat scalloped from the traversing with the jack plane. It doesn’t need to be super smooth, and I wanted to get it finished.

On the dovetails, I tried tiny pins. Don’t much like the look of them, but I guess fat pins would’ve looked kinda weird in the thin stock, too. The narrow end between tails is big enough to fit my dovetail saw through, and that’s it. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

The case got non-square (almost 1/4”difference between the two diagonals, on a total of 22”) on me when I glued it up and glued the back on. I can see it, but most other people don’t notice, so I guess I’m a perfectionist. And I should use corner clamps to keep things square, especially on thin stock like this.

Finish is a coat of BLO, blonde shellac, then orange shellac, then another blonde shellac. I should’ve made the shelf a full 3/4 thick, as I broke three of the “fingers” between the holes along the way. Just glued them back together for now. I’ll glue on small wooden cross-grain splints if I break any more. But the chisels are now out of the way.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

13 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile


6541 posts in 3037 days

#1 posted 07-12-2018 04:54 PM

Looks fine to me.

Serves it’s purpose and pleases you====ALL THAT MATTERS!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View EarlS's profile


3730 posts in 3119 days

#2 posted 07-12-2018 05:25 PM

That’s a sharp looking till. Now your chisels have ahome.

As for losing square – was the back square?

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5379 posts in 1353 days

#3 posted 07-12-2018 05:29 PM

The back was square, but about 1/4 oversize when I glued it on, Earl. For glued on backs like this, I plane them down to fit exactly after they’re attached. I could’ve tacked blocks onto the back to ensure square, too. Just didn’t. Oops.

Thanks, Ralph. It’ll do the job, and that’s most important.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2903 days

#4 posted 07-12-2018 05:56 PM

Nicely crafted!

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Oldtool's profile


2955 posts in 2961 days

#5 posted 07-12-2018 05:59 PM

Looks pretty good to me, works fine, does the job in a quite nice manner. What more could you ask of it. The dovetails look just fine, nice in fact.

Also, there’s no such thing as perfect, worry not about a square frame.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5379 posts in 1353 days

#6 posted 07-12-2018 07:24 PM

Thanks Russell & Tom. I figure I’m always improving, but I’ll probably always see something to improve, too.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

455 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 07-12-2018 11:22 PM

Looks great Dave…hand tools just seem to collect on benchtops…kudos on the dovetails!

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 1578 days

#8 posted 07-12-2018 11:35 PM

Really nice work, Dave! I like the cutout for the chisels—it looks like they’ll hold well and make it easy to get them out.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5379 posts in 1353 days

#9 posted 07-13-2018 12:04 AM

Thanks Tom. I think when I get the plane till done, everything else on the bench top should have a home on the pegboard. I think. And I’m getting better at dovetails. I didn’t quite do a dovetail a day for a month like I’d hoped last winter, but I’ve practiced enough that they’re getting better.

Saw someone else use those cutouts, Dan. Don’t remember who it was so I can thank him, but I drew a sketch on a piece of cardboard a few months back so I wouldn’t forget. One of them (for the LN mortise chisel) needed a tiny adjustment with a chisel to make the mouth just a smidgen wider, but luckily I had a chisel handy!

They hold well enough that I can grab the entire till off the wall if I’m going to be doing a lot of chiseling, and they don’t go anywhere. That was my goal.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7545 posts in 1483 days

#10 posted 07-13-2018 12:29 AM

with the file ,saw and chisel tills … you should have some very nice bench space now Dave :<)) GREAT JOB

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5379 posts in 1353 days

#11 posted 07-13-2018 12:52 AM

Getting there, Tony. Just need to corral all the planes, but that’s next on the list. Thanks!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


9464 posts in 2814 days

#12 posted 07-13-2018 03:04 AM

Those soldiers look great in that case Dave. Soon you will have that empty bench top. Then you can load it up again.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5379 posts in 1353 days

#13 posted 07-13-2018 10:36 AM

Thanks, Dave. It’s like the cycle of life. ;-)

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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