Gerstner Style Machinist's Chest

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Project by Lenny posted 04-18-2021 12:04 AM 2494 views 5 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to purchase and restore a Gerstner style machinist’s chest but “used” sticker shock caused me to rethink. As an alternative, I found plans and made this one. The plans were purchased online from The Woodsmith Shop. I bought the higher priced version which includes a set of drawings that runs 17 pages. Made from quartersawn white oak, the overall dimensions are 17” wide by 12-1/2” high by 8” deep. This version contains 7 drawers. The case bottom and sides are joined with ¼” box joints. The front and rear panels are made up of rails and stiles with raised panels. The lid is a frame joined by box joints with a rabbeted panel nailed on top of it.
When it came to the hardware I ran into a snag. The plans suggest “” as a source. Unfortunately, they are out of business. I was able to get most of the items from Rockler (hinges, latches and corner guards). The biggest problem was the drawer pulls. Five of the seven drawers are only 1-1/4” tall and all drawer fronts are only 3/8” thick. I could not find drawer pulls to match those specs. There is no space between the drawers and front panel so the pulls had to be flush. I ended up making custom wooden pulls. The exterior is finished with two coats of Sealcoat shellac and two coats of Waterlox satin finish. The drawers got three coats of aerosol shellac and three coats of Deft aerosol lacquer.
For now, this will hold small tools in my shop but I made it with my nearly 7-year-old grandson in mind. He has proven to be quite an artist. One day I will load this up with artist materials and pass it on to him.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

34 comments so far

View pottz's profile


25828 posts in 2444 days

#1 posted 04-18-2021 12:16 AM

man that is a beautiful chest,just as good as any gerstner and made with pride.something your grandkids will have someday.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View MrWolfe's profile


1850 posts in 1583 days

#2 posted 04-18-2021 12:17 AM

Nice job on this great box!
Cool hardware and the homemade pulls are perfect.
Better than a real Gerstner.

View Oldtool's profile


3511 posts in 3650 days

#3 posted 04-18-2021 12:19 AM

Beautiful looking tool chest, very nicely constructed. I don’t know what the original drawer pulls looked like, but what you did I feel is most appropriate and looks great.
I’m sure your grandson will enjoy this, when it’s his turn to own it. Nice work.

-- "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 Redoak49's profile


5585 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 04-18-2021 12:38 AM

Very well done and you can be proud of it.

View therealSteveN's profile


9996 posts in 2034 days

#5 posted 04-18-2021 03:07 AM

Nice chest. It will work great as the intended heirloom.

-- Think safe, be safe

View BurlyBob's profile


10501 posts in 3725 days

#6 posted 04-18-2021 03:20 AM

Outstanding. Those drawer pulls are ingenious. Your Grandson is going to cherish it when becomes his chest.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10290 posts in 2042 days

#7 posted 04-18-2021 03:49 AM

Wow, Lenny! That’s a beautiful chest!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10889 posts in 3869 days

#8 posted 04-18-2021 04:37 AM


-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Dutchy's profile


4373 posts in 3628 days

#9 posted 04-18-2021 07:18 AM

A nice piece of furniture!


View Peteybadboy's profile


4844 posts in 3409 days

#10 posted 04-18-2021 09:27 AM

Wow, great job

-- Petey

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5439 days

#11 posted 04-18-2021 10:17 AM

Great job, Lenny! Beautiful project.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lenny's profile


1746 posts in 4987 days

#12 posted 04-18-2021 10:24 AM

Thank you everyone. Here is a stock image of the chest shown on the plans. It shows the drawer pulls intended for the chest.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View littlecope's profile


3152 posts in 4962 days

#13 posted 04-18-2021 11:04 AM

Like the improvised drawer pulls better, definitely not
from the Gerstner shelf now, they’re personal…
Beautiful Work Len!
It’ll be ‘in your Family’ forever, Well Done!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View jbschutz's profile


622 posts in 4151 days

#14 posted 04-18-2021 11:31 AM

Lenny, you have inspired me with your artistry and craftsmanship. I am picturing a box like this in my future to hold fly tying equipment and supplies. Thanks..

-- jbschutz

View 987Ron's profile


3812 posts in 776 days

#15 posted 04-18-2021 12:09 PM

Wonderful chest and craftsmanship. Something useful, lovely, and to last several generations. Nice work.

-- Ron

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