More Chisel Boxes with Box Joints

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Project by MrWolfe posted 07-16-2019 03:14 AM 1522 views 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last of my recent chisel boxes with handcut finger/box joints. I made all three at the same time. The two large ones are poplar sides with 1/4 inch plywood bottoms and lids and poplar inserts. The smaller one is reclaimed hickory sides from a pallet with the same 1/4 inch plywood lid and bottom like the other two. I’ve tried to make them all visually different with stains so that I can easily tell them apart. There are three sets of different kinds of specialty chisels.

I decided to stick with the upside down hasps that I put on the first two chisel boxes. It seems to work for me.

The smallest is for some Narex dovetail chisels and two fishtail chisels I ground down from full size chisels. Its finished with a wipe on mix of tung oil, b.l.o. and poly then finished with clear shellac and wax.

The light colored larger box is for the Narex skew chisels (I use these SO much when cutting and cleaning up dovetails).
The finish is another wipe on blend of Provencial stain, mineral spirits and poly followed by clear shellac and wax.

The last is for the Narex mortise chisels I bought last year. It has a wipe on mix of jacobean/ebony mix stain, mineral spirits and poly followed by amber shellac and wax.

The last six or seven boxes I’ve made have been tool cases for chisels and planes that have been rattliing around loose in drawers of my bench or in cardboard boxes. Making custom tool cases feels like killing two birds with one stone… cool box and a cool place to keep your tools. It also felt a little like a break from the decorative box series I started a couple of months ago. I am ready to get back to dovetails and miters with splines and maybe get a little more creative. Still… I’ll probably have these boxes for many years to come so its time well spent.

Big Thanks to LittleBlackDuck for the tips on making chisel booties. I was buying those silicon guards online and he suggested Plastidip and paper tape. I had to watch a youtube video to really get it but I made soooo many chisel guards and I still have half a can of the Plastidip left. Thanks LBD.

Guess you’ve figured out that I like Narex chisels. Its hard for me to compare them to anything but the beater chisels I’ve had but after flattening the backs (not much work) and sharpening, they work great and keep an edge. Narex puts some protective coating/film on the chisels to prevent rusting and I used acetone and a soft cloth to remove this film before I did any work to the backs or bevels. I just put B.L.O. on the handles followed with paste wax. I do strop often while using but I hardly have to mess with the primary bevels. I am using CRC-3-36 and paste wax on the chisels to prevent rust along with Zerust Plastab rust inhibitors in the chisel boxes. First two sets I bought (not any of these) I reground the bevels to 20 degrees on one set and 35 degrees on the other. The 20’s are for chopping dovetails in softwood and the 35’s are for hardwood.

Narex is affordable and seems to offer great quality.
Thanks for looking.

9 comments so far

View therealSteveN's profile


6241 posts in 1422 days

#1 posted 07-16-2019 05:30 AM

Nice job Jon. I’m feeling like a chisel abuser, mine do not have a nice home like yours do. It truly is time well spent making these, seems I am spending all of mine sharpening the banged up edges of mine.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#2 posted 07-16-2019 12:08 PM

A nice set of cases for your chisels. That plus the guards should keep them in great shape!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrWolfe's profile


1055 posts in 971 days

#3 posted 07-16-2019 03:51 PM

Thanks for the comments!
Steve, I spent so much time cleaning rust off of them then sharpening and polishing the backs on just about all of my chisels just to have them start rusting immediately. Too much time. I think a lot of it is just the humidity in South Texas and the unusual amount of rain we’ve had in the last two months. That and the edges were getting damaged in the drawers they were in. The chisel handles were getting nicks in them too from other chisels when I would toss them in there or open/close the drawers. This helps a lot and I’m hoping closed boxes and the Zerust plastitabs help keep the rust down too.

Thanks Dave, the guards are great and I’ve made about 30 or more so far, plus guards for my marking knife, dividers, and other measuring tools… Plus it was fun to make them. I bought that can of plastidip for about the same price as a pack of 12 of those silicon guards. Still enough left for some other projects too.

View Phil32's profile


1130 posts in 751 days

#4 posted 07-16-2019 07:14 PM

The chisel boxes are certainly better than having the tools thrown randomly in a drawer. I would suggest that the notched divider that supports the shank be placed where the shank enters the handle. And, if the base of the handles were against the side (end) of the box, the chisels could not shift endwise. This would only work if the chisel handles are the same length. It would partially eliminate the need for the plastic protectors on the cutting edges.

Here is a photo of two such boxes. The left on holds 22 gouges in alternating direction and multiple layers with a single notched divider in the center. The one of the right was offered by Pfeil (Swiss Made) to contain their Brienz Collection (no longer available) of 25 tools plus mallet, slip stone & honing oil. It supports each gouge in a separate slot, with a lift-out tray for the upper layer. It is designed so all the gouges rest on their handles when the box is carried by the handle.

I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong with your design. Just offering some other ideas.


-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3937 days

#5 posted 07-16-2019 07:46 PM

Lovely that you make boxes for your chisels, to take care of them.
Fine work.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View MrWolfe's profile


1055 posts in 971 days

#6 posted 07-16-2019 07:52 PM

Nice cases Phil, very nice chisels too!

Thanks for the comments Mads, I appreciate the kind words.

I like that people suggest ideas on this site and I appreciate your suggestions.

My solution to prevent the chisels from shifting is a very tight clearance space in the lid along with a 1/2 strip of foam epoxied into the lid across the center of the box. When the lid is closed, the foam cushions the chisels and prevents them from moving around or sliding. On a couple of other cases I built, I was able to “trap” the chisels into a locked position by setting the bases against the side of the box like you’ve suggested. The dividers only capture the handles at certain point as the handles on some of my chisels flare out and are not a fixed diameter. That prevents them from sliding around. Also, the chisel guards were trimmed in some cases to lock the chisels between the base and the part of the divider that holds the shank or blade of the tool.

Pics of the first two chisel boxes.

I did think about these things while making these boxes and I like your suggestions.
If I had a uniform set of chisels or gouges and were to make another box I might make the case a little smaller to just fit the length of the tools and use some of your suggestions.

Maybe someone else reading this might benefit from your tips before their chisel box build.

View TheSawDustWhisperer's profile


134 posts in 969 days

#7 posted 07-16-2019 11:41 PM

Well made and your chisel collection is extensive.
I also like narex., great brand.
I need one of these.
Where did you get the latches that keep the boxes closed?

-- One of these days I’m going to build a dust collection system. Dusty Lungs

View MrWolfe's profile


1055 posts in 971 days

#8 posted 07-17-2019 01:46 AM

Thanks SawDustWhisperer,
Yah… I’d say almost too extensive but I’ve use them all and I have different bevels for different woods and the specialty chisels for certain cuts. I keep telling myself “I’m set for chisels” but I’d really like some crankneck chisels for cleaning out routed grooves. And then there are gouges… paring chisels and others I’m sure. >=)

I think Narex is under-rated but I’ve never had some of the high end chisels so its hard for me to compare them to anything else.

I’m new to hardware on boxes but Ebay and Amazon have some hinges and hasps you can select from.


Larger Hasps/Buckle

and Hinges

There are many others and these are rather low end but they certainly work. Now I have a little stash of them too.

View ronstar's profile


599 posts in 4558 days

#9 posted 07-17-2019 11:12 AM

Very Nice!

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

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