Though some books decry the act, the archaeological record is clear: Woodworkers used their tool chests as sawbenches.
Many tool chests I’ve examined have edges that have been scarred by saw teeth. And as a woodworker, I’ve also felt the urge to saw upon the lid of my tool chest. OK, confession time: I’ve done it.
The only real problem with using your chest as a sawbench comes if your lid has a traditional raised-panel lid, such as the one on my current tool chest. The problem is that the raised field of the panel leaves some portion of your work unsupported, hanging out and vibrating like crazy when you saw.
The solution, according to Australian woodworker Phil Spencer, is the “Spratling Bead.”
This feature, named after Spencer’s grandfather, Lindsay Spratling, adds a raised bead between the lid and the dust seal that helps support work when you saw it on top of the chest. It also will help support work when you clamp it on top of the chest – something I do all the time.
Spratling was a carpenter and later a woodwork teacher at the former Caulfield Tech in Melbourne.
“I remember when he had his apprentices building their tool boxes he would have them incorporate two raised hardwood strips into the lids running along the edges of the lid,” Spencer wrote in an e-mail. “The idea of the strips was to sit proud of the raised panel and gave the owner something solid to rest a plank on so it could be cut, if the plank was rested on the raised panel it would usually rock.”
I must admit that the Spratling beads are quite clever. And if you think you might saw anything on the top of your tool chest, they would make an excellent addition.
— Christopher Schwarz