An Easy Way to Eliminate Gaps in Your Tool Chest


The hardest part of building a traditional tool chest is to fit the 6”-wide lower skirt all the way around the dovetailed carcase. No matter how careful you are, it’s easy to end up with a gap between the skirt and case.

I have concocted at least five different ways to fight this gap.

1. Fill it with water putty.
2. Plow a groove around the dovetailed carcase where the top of the skirt goes. Glue a thin strip of wood to the inside of the skirt pieces at the top of the moulding that fits in the groove.
3. After assembling the carcase, run the whole thing through a wide-belt sander to true up the carcase.
4. Make the beveled section of the moulding a separate piece that you miter and nail on top of the dovetailed part of the skirt.
5. Add a 3/16” bead moulding that is stuck onto a 1/4” x 1/4” strip of wood – miter it at the corners.

This fifth solution is my favorite. Today I added this bead detail to a full-size tool chest I’m building for a customer. I had a small gap – a little less than 1/16” at one corner – between the lower skirt and the carcase. While the skirt looked tight in the dry-fit, something went wrong.

To fix it, stick the 3/16” bead onto the four long edges of a 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” x 48”-long piece of pine. Then rip the four corners off to make four pieces of 1/4” x 1/4” x 48” moulding. Miter, glue and nail it to the lower skirt.

The whole process took about 30 minutes. It adds a shadow line to the lower skirt and spares the water putty.

— Christopher Schwarz


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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19 Responses to An Easy Way to Eliminate Gaps in Your Tool Chest

  1. tpobrienjr says:

    6. Buy more tools?

  2. Jonas Jensen says:

    Thats looking good.
    It looks like some nice wide boards as well.

  3. fitz says:

    Well sh*t. I thought I was done with the exterior of mine…but now I’m not.

  4. Madhav Mehra says:

    So Chris, how much does a Schwarz-original Anarchist tool chest cost, anyway?

  5. Jason says:

    If you can’t join it, bead it.

  6. Graham Burbank says:

    Number three is bogus. My widebelt opens to 6″ max! Hey, aren’t you supposed to be the hotshot with the handplane, anyway? LOL! The bead is an elegant solution. Quick, adds detail, looks fancy and hides all sins. Maybe even generates an upcharge! It ain’t the mistakes you make but the solutions you solve them with that separates the good from the mediocre. Ask me about my board stretcher sometime…

  7. Dan Miller says:

    I read the subject of this post and immediatly thought, I’d have to murder my rich uncle to get the money for the 1/2 set of hollows and rounds and that would elliminate the main gap in my tool chest. Then I read the blog entry…

  8. Ron Dennis says:

    Beautiful solution! Now, swell those pin nailer indents?

    • Graham Burbank says:

      Hey! the man is trying to make some money here! Lets see you try to nail this micro-molding on with cut nails! At some point, you gotta let go of the puritan notions and get ‘er done…

  9. Tim Aldrich says:

    Option 6. Look at the gap, shrug shoulders, say “Meh!”, then make sure the paint is thick enough to cover the gap until the warranty period expires. No, I’m not serious. I’d be throwing a party if a skirt gap was all I had to worry about 😉

  10. Publius Secundus says:

    Isn’t Roy’s interlocking skirt a variation of your option 2 even though it’s structural in his chest?

  11. jimmykx250 says:

    The bead adds a nice line to the piece. Well done!

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