Penguin Tool Chest

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Project by bobasaurus posted 06-16-2012 05:33 PM 8046 views 30 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished this penguin-themed tool chest after about 9 months working on it during evenings/weekends. It is a (belated) retirement gift for my father, who contributed by making the silver penguin knobs. The carcass is constructed from walnut, cottonwood, red oak (for the runners, not pictured) and some hidden MDF on the dividers. The drawers are soft spalted maple on the fronts/backs, and elm on the sides. I did a crushed turquoise + epoxy inlay in a knothole on the left side of the chest for some visual flair. There is a walnut penguin inlaid in the front cottonwood rail, using the wood whisperer’s free-hand router inlay technique.

Many dovetails adorn this piece, the majority of them hand-cut (some cheating with the bandsaw for the tails of the drawers). The carcass sides are through-dovetailed to the bottom, the rails are half-blind dovetail joined to the sides, the dividers are inserted using sliding dovetails (the only ones that were routed), and the drawers are half-blind dovetailed all around.

The top hinges open using shipwright-style box hinges . A routed chamfer on the front edge makes the lid easy to lift.

My father carved the wax shape of the penguin knobs, with help from my mother on the details of the feathers, wing, etc. He then had his jeweler friend cast the individual knobs, using Argentium Silver which can be kiln-baked to harden the metal and prevent tarnishing with a germanium oxide layer. We drilled out the backs and tapped them to accept 6-32 screws for the drawer face attachment.

I finished the chest with a few initial coats of a minwax tung oil + polyurethane mix to bring out the grain, then many coats of a satin wipe-on poly, finally waxing the drawer sides and runners with an orange oil / carnauba wax mix (really made the drawer movement smooth).

I learned a lot of new techniques working on this piece. There are many mistakes, most of which I was able to correct and will hopefully avoid in the future. Thanks for taking a look.

Larger photo set: (if imgur is down, here is the album on flickr:[email protected]/7352040676/in/set-72157630013474363/lightbox/ )

Blog detailing the construction:

Photo credit goes to my two friends and coworkers Will von Dauster and Patrick Cullis. Their photography skills put mine to shame.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

25 comments so far

View TomTinkerSum's profile


226 posts in 4888 days

#1 posted 06-16-2012 06:03 PM

Great tool chest. Thanks for sharing a lot of techniques and what you put into this project. Handles are an excellent touch. Nice job on face and making all the natural grain patterns POP!!


-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic.... :)

View bfergie's profile


83 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 06-16-2012 06:33 PM

That is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

-- Fergie in CO

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4630 days

#3 posted 06-16-2012 06:40 PM

Wow Bob this is a great tool box fantastic build and wonderful wood.


View jcop30's profile


66 posts in 4383 days

#4 posted 06-16-2012 06:42 PM

love it nice work

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 4171 days

#5 posted 06-16-2012 06:49 PM

Super Chest, could pass as a Jewelry Box for sure, looks Great, nice added touches all over the place, Great Job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View dustysawyer's profile


129 posts in 3681 days

#6 posted 06-16-2012 07:51 PM

Beautiful project. Thanks for including the detailed steps link for the shipwright hinges. I may incorporate them into an upcoming tea box project.

View GlennsGrandson's profile


443 posts in 3362 days

#7 posted 06-16-2012 08:01 PM

This is amazing, very beautiful, fine work, great story on the pulls. This should make the top, of it doesn’t, it’s on mine for the day!

-- Grant - N Dakota

View Woodenwizard's profile


1368 posts in 4096 days

#8 posted 06-16-2012 09:07 PM

This is Crazy nice. Love the dovetails and the hinge. What an outstanding gift.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View ruddy's profile


550 posts in 3992 days

#9 posted 06-16-2012 10:21 PM

Outstanding design and workmanship. Always good to see a well made toolchest and this one is up with the best of them.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View JRL's profile


104 posts in 3591 days

#10 posted 06-16-2012 11:22 PM

One of a kind. Thanks for keeping high the LJs standard.

-- Jay in Changsha

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3743 days

#11 posted 06-17-2012 12:42 AM

I have followeed your project build from the beginning and it was worth the wait. What a treasure. I love everything about it from the hinge, to the inlay, the wood choices, and especially the cast penguin knobs! this is definately an heirloom. Great job.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 3996 days

#12 posted 06-17-2012 02:10 AM

Hi Allen, great piece. A lot of work, a lot of details. The fact that you could share such special project with your dad makes it special treasure indeed.

-- Back home. Fernando

View mbs's profile


1686 posts in 3993 days

#13 posted 06-17-2012 02:56 AM

Beautiful Chest. Great choice of woods.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3617 days

#14 posted 06-17-2012 03:01 AM

the turquoise makes for a very interesting effect

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View SergeantSawDust's profile


174 posts in 3235 days

#15 posted 06-17-2012 05:44 AM

It’s absolutely beautiful, and I really like how it was constructed. Outstanding!

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

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