Joiner's Tool Chest

  • Advertise with us
Project by Texasgaloot posted 04-27-2008 06:30 AM 13149 views 9 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A galoot I am. A galoot needs a really old-fashioned, proper storage space for all those ridiculous, obsolete hand tools that dance like visions of sugar-plum fairies… well, you know. Sort of the antithesis of Tim Allen. When I realized this to be truth, I began a year-long quest for the perfect tool chest, and was surprised to find that such a thing was as nebulous as the Holy Grail, so I did the predictable thing and designed my own. Someday I’ll finish it, too!
The inspiration comes from a composite of great features I found in Tauton’s “The Toolbox Book” (Jim Tolpin,) and from a coffee table we had in our living room while I was growing up that was actually my dad’s Uncle Roy’s tool chest. Uncle Roy was a professional carpenter whenever he permitted earning an honest living to interfere with his fishing.
The sides of the tool chest are birch plywood, because I reasoned that they would be greatly stressed when the toolbox was moved, and because I figured that being an itinerate preacher at the time would bring the chest into widely varying humidities and the carcass would at least offer some stability. Once I began building the tills to some pretty close tolerances, I realized how good a call this is. The bottom of the chest is made of tongue and groove fir, tongues and grooves milled by my crispy match plane (Stanley No-48.) The lid is Tennessee Black Walnut, glued up and planed to make a floating panel. The border and ledgers sport hand-cut dovetails.
The box features three divided compartments in the bottom: one for large bench planes (a No.-8, a No.-5, a No.-4c, and a No.-3) one for my various bits and braces and a couple of levels, and one for miscellaneous tools that haven’t found a home yet. Above that is a sliding shelf made of cherry that is one compartment wide. The shelf track is also used to support the three tills: one 5 drawer till featured in the photos, one saw till containing a variety of rather dull Disstons, and one for my present barely adequate chisels that will hopefully someday be replaced with much better ones. The till carcasses and dividers are made of the same walnut as the lid, while the drawer fronts are made of cherry (couldn’t tell by the sapwood, could you?) The chisel till indexes into the saw till and forms it’s lid, and when they are stacked they form a mirror image of the drawer till.
This chest (like my own) is a work in progress, and fortunately the woodwoorking is going better than the photography. I’ve yet to take the time to add some dividers where they are needed, and to add a walnut apron around the outside of the chest at the bottom, but those are in the plans as well. I’ll post updates as I complete these steps, if we are not too old to read by then.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

17 comments so far

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 4415 days

#1 posted 04-27-2008 06:58 AM

by all means post away…great chest in progress

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View gator9t9's profile


331 posts in 4213 days

#2 posted 04-27-2008 09:23 AM

Oh Yes …...GREAT JOB ..I love it …
thanks so much ….for sharing .

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4283 days

#3 posted 04-27-2008 10:57 AM

Great looking chest. Very nice job. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4727 days

#4 posted 04-27-2008 03:29 PM

Very nice! What are the overall dimensions?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Lip's profile


158 posts in 4558 days

#5 posted 04-27-2008 03:33 PM

Awesome … the wife actually bought me the toolbox book you’re talking about … and I could sit for days in admiration of them things … some really marvelous pieces in that book … but looks like you’re well on the way to making a marvelous piece of your own!

-- Lip's Dysfuncational Firewood Farm, South Bend, IN

View stanley2's profile


354 posts in 4304 days

#6 posted 04-27-2008 04:24 PM

Good work – looking forward to your post on how the heck you got your wife to put a tool chest for you on her list

-- Phil in British Columbia

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4704 days

#7 posted 04-27-2008 04:47 PM

Great job…please, more pictures, lots more. Shades of Mr. H.O. Studley. (if anyone here hasn’t yet seen the Studley tool box, just google H. O. Studley tool box)
I’ve been trying to work up the courage to start a tool box for all my hand tools, and this is an encouragement to me to get it in gear.
Way to go! -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4497 days

#8 posted 04-27-2008 05:00 PM

Great looking chest!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Hersh's profile


106 posts in 4224 days

#9 posted 04-27-2008 05:15 PM

I’m a sucker for good tool chests, and that is a great chest.

-- Hersh from Port Angeles, WA - Gotta Complete That Project!

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4755 days

#10 posted 04-27-2008 06:32 PM

Looks old fashioned to me. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View grovemadman's profile


556 posts in 4280 days

#11 posted 04-27-2008 09:05 PM

I have some plans I drew up for something very similar. your design is great because it makes esy access for all the tools. I think I have some changes to be made to my plans before I start making one. Thanks for posting the project – that’s why I joined LJ’s, looking for new Ideas.

-- --Chuck

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4500 days

#12 posted 04-28-2008 03:48 AM

Wow I love it… I’ll have to put this one on my to-do list.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View BobR's profile


136 posts in 4493 days

#13 posted 04-28-2008 02:33 PM

Nice looking box. Funny that you should post at this time as I have had Tolpin’s book for some time now, but have only just started to use it to get ideas for a tool box of my own. Look forward to seeing more pics as the project progresses.

-- Bob

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 4225 days

#14 posted 08-17-2008 04:32 AM

great looking chest.grat job

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Craig Ambrose's profile

Craig Ambrose

47 posts in 4081 days

#15 posted 09-15-2010 04:59 AM

Hi Mack,

I’ve just gotten up to the toolchest episode of your podcast. I’d been thinking of building a chest much like this one. I’m wondering if you have any reflections on it, having used it for a few years. In particular Tolpin’s book presents one cabinetmaker who complains about sliding long tills like yours, and thus made them slide the other way. Do you have any thoughts on whether the tills slide nicely? Do you often find yourself taking them out and balancing them on things? And finally, any chance of some more detailed photos of the tills?



showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics