A Quick Tour of the Dutch Tool Chest


It turns out that the Dutch Tool Chest I recently finished is a little larger than I needed.

Fully loaded with the tools I take on the road, it still had room for more. And it weighs only 116 pounds. That’s easy for two people to lift, and it is something I can lift with only a grunt or two.

The chest can also take a hard knock – the fully loaded chest tool a spill off the sawhorses today during weigh-in. The tools and chest took the hit with a lot of grace (yay, ductile iron!).

The top bin of the chest is where I’m sure most of you will be looking. The bench planes are separated by 3/8”-thick dividers. The till for the backsaws creates three compartments at the rear of the top bin. The left compartment is for tools you need all the time (pencils, knives, mallet etc.). The other two bins are for tools that might not see action every few minutes (feather files, dovetail markers, extra small drill bits etc.).

dutch_covered_IMG_4538On the two shelves below are the rest of the tools – all the moulders and joinery planes, augers, hammer, carving tools, rasps, hand drill, brace and so forth. The delicate tools are protected by tool rolls. The other tools are cushioned by the tool rolls.

I’d rather have every tool have a discrete spot – wouldn’t we all? – but I know that the open architecture will be to my advantage until… whenever.

Also worth noting: Ty Black (my shop assistant) sewed up a canvas cover for the chest. I got that idea from my research into campaign furniture – chests would often have a fitted canvas cover. My cover is designed to protect both the chest and my car from damage.

The hinges are from Lee Valley and are temporary – I’ll replace them when some blacksmith-made ones arrive. I had to install these so the chest could make a trip to Columbus on Saturday morning to talk to the central Ohio woodworkers’ club. If you want to see the chest in person and are a member of the club, please stop by. I’ll have a special guest with me (it’s not Ty – he already has an obligation that day).

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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61 Responses to A Quick Tour of the Dutch Tool Chest

  1. Peter Ganev says:

    Hey, Chris, is that LN jointer an 8 or a 7? Looks massive.

  2. PAtrick says:

    Slick! Anything you’d change or too early to tell?

  3. Niels says:

    Very nice, Mr. Schwarz!
    Are you packing the top compartment and shelves with any wadding (towels etc.) when moving. I am particularly curious about the shelves. I wonder if with use you deem it nessary to at some sort of division or bins to keep tools from bumping and grinding.
    I really like the proportion. Seems just about right to minimize stooping while retrieving tools and carrying it around. Also the footprint would make it ideal for cramps spaces (small shops and apartments).

  4. ScottV says:

    Looks nice. I was doing some sketching last week based on this tool chest/cabinet and realized that my dovetail saws could probably fit vertically against the back wall. My carcase/tenon saws would fit as well if I notched out a slot in the floor of the top an let them protrude into the shelf area below. Rip saws on the right, x-cut on left. This would leave room for a deeper (tiered) tool rack too hold all the smaller bits.

    Also, I do not have use for hollows and rounds, so that may allow enough room in my chest to put some drawers into the second floor.

  5. Ben says:

    Is something wrong with your right arm?

    • lostartpress says:

      No. I have always looked like Bob Dole with my right arm. What the heck?

      • jasongc says:

        During WWII, Bob Dole was a member of the 10th Mountain Division when he was shot by a German machine gun. He lost a kidney, the use of his right arm, and the majority of the feeling in his left arm. Most people know of the injury, but have no idea how it happened.

      • Chris says:

        They say when you lose one sense, others will compensate. Bob Dole may have lost the use of an arm, but his use of Third Person illeism is extraordinary. “I dont always refer to myself in the third person- but when he does, I do. Stay thirsty, my friends”

      • Brian Eve says:

        I get the impression watching you load and unload it, that the ATC is perhaps easier to get into. The ATC allows you to put one hand on the edge to gain a third point of contact, which this one does not. Am I right? Perhaps since you will use it for a traveling case this is less important.

        • lostartpress says:

          Depends. When this Dutch chest is sitting on a sawbench, there’s almost no stooping. This also can be mounted to a wall using aFrench cleat. Then it works like a wall cabinet. I’ll write more about the chest in use as I break it in.

    • JJ says:

      I think he trying to avoid to step into the camera, so we could actually see the chest.

    • Scott P. says:

      Ben, Chris is standing funny to stay out of the camera shot. He would not normally approach the chest one handed in this manner.

  6. ty black says:

    you need some book ends for the bottom shelves

    • PAtrick says:

      You going to start a side business in chest covers after the article for PW gets published? Very nice work.

  7. Jason says:

    So is there a reason you are using this chest as apposed to the Travelling Anarchists Tool Chest? Or are you just trying out various configurations of chests?

  8. James Gee says:

    Perhaps the sliding cleats for the front panel could serve as winding sticks.

  9. Chris it looks great and is something that may work well in my cramped “2 bay” shop. You may have addressed this already, but do you plan on publishing the details as for sizes etc.?

  10. Jack Plane says:

    You have to buy your vehicles to fit your tool chest. Coming from the South I thought for sure you’d own a pickup. Anyway another very nice tool chest. Probably easier to access the tools with this design.

  11. jasongc says:

    That’s actually pretty slick. Not that I didn’t expect it not to be, but it’s cool enough that I’m figuring out what projects I can put aside in order to get one built quickly.

  12. Paul Crowe says:

    Just wondering what the two silver tools are between the chisel and the birdcage awl?

  13. Ron Dennis says:

    Chris – I noticed that the often used tools seem to occupy the top tier of your new chest. Are you tired of bending over, or just a back injury?

  14. JerrySats says:

    Chirs this one is very cool , I like how you can get to everything easily . Any plans for this design ?

  15. Sam I Am says:

    Well, I gotta say Chris… that tool chest is sweeter than a red headed gal, with a potty mouth.
    Hope it makes your travels a little less burdensome.

  16. Jason says:

    Does this lay down on its back to fit in the car? Also, are you bringing it with you to class at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta the first weekend of February? I’m in your class and would love to see it in person if possible.

  17. Aron says:

    I don’t have a garage to hang all my tools so that’s exactly what I need. The mahogany on the black looks awesome.. I haven’t made anything in a while, this will be my next project, an’t wait for the plans.

  18. joemcglynn says:

    Chris, that looks spectacular. I like the higher stance too.

  19. Chris, I would surely like to see a photo of this when you get it loaded in the car.

  20. Robert Justiana says:

    I thought the tape measure was supposed to stay in the truck, used only for trips to the lumberyard.?! 🙂

  21. Greg Miller says:

    The best thing about the sloping top is that crap won’t accumulate on it! Any flat surface is prone to having things put on it, no matter how temporary. Nice one, Chris, but I would put a few dividers in the bottom compartment to stop the tools from bashing into one another as you weave your way through the traffic or up through mountain passes. It is, after all, a travelling tool chest for the boot of your car… 🙂

  22. Seems like it would lend itself perfectly to being wheeled around on a dolly. Would certainly make steps and such a whole lot easier. This is exactly the case I’ve been looking to build, great work!

  23. sawdustmaker says:

    Chris, are we to believe the music in your video is Dutch ?? LOL also how many moulding planes do you have and where did you get them ? thanks

    • lostartpress says:

      I have a half set of H&R planes, a beader and a couple complex moulders. Some are from Clark & Williams. Some are from M. S. Bickford. Some are vintage. You don’t need an entire half set….

  24. Antti Nannimus says:


    What, shop assistant? SHOP ASSISTANT? What the hell? Now it ALL starts to come clear! And just HOW MANY of these so-called “shop assistants” do you have slaving for you?

    Have a nice day,

  25. MattPelto says:

    Do I smell a sequel to, or at least another edition of the Anarchist Tool Chest?

  26. Ron says:

    Chris, just curious. Where does this ride in your vehicle?
    I’m thinking safely behind a seat without obstructing the view and leaving room for materials… l suppose I’m asking what were your design constraints, or, stated another way, what needs lead you to pick this historic design’s footprint and height? Form = function.

  27. Chris, who is the music by?

  28. Graham Burbank says:

    watching you stoop and grope for lower shelf items confirms my suspicions (prejudices?) about tool chests that sit on the floor. French cleat that sucker, publish that roubo book, and lets transition on to studley…I see how it all ties together. There truly is a method to your madness….

  29. Jos Helmer says:

    Where does the Dutch (connection) come from/in ?

  30. Matt says:

    Oooh! I have an idea! How about the Campaign Toolchest!! You could split the top and bottom half, and then perhaps it could fit in the trunk of a sedan, and when in the shop each half could stack, or be placed side by side on some sort of stand. That would be kind-of-cool, no?

  31. billlattpa says:

    The Chest looks great, but I am more impressed with the canvas cover (no offense). I’m surprised you don’t see this more often. Great job Generalissimo!

  32. JJ says:

    As someone without a workshop, (I do my woodworking at Cerritos College and a Woodworking Club), I would use something like this, except I need to be able to lay it flat on my truck’s bed. I would probably put runners in the back and handle at the base to facilitate this.

  33. John Switzer says:

    Looks great. If you pack the empty spaces with you socks and underware you might be able to save a suitcase and stop people from rumaging through your tools all at the same time. 😉

  34. Eric says:

    Hey Chris, could we have an idea when the article one this tool chest could be published ? Trying to decide if I wait for it before I build this.

  35. gracecab says:

    Dude, what are you, some kind of wood savant or something? Why the overkill? A cover too. Try setting the bar a little higher ok. Kidding.

  36. Andy says:

    I get the feeling that you will now spend a large amount of time transfering tools from the ATC to he DTC for travel, then back again…Is this correct? Or will you simply leave some tools in each, and go to that chest when you need that tool (when at home)?

  37. Rusty Boats says:

    Very nice project!

    I really like several aspect of the design:
    -The upright design with less foot print and easier access.
    -The tools in their own holders
    -The most used tools close to hand

    And several aspects seem to need more refinement:
    -Low shelves are inconvenient can’t see or access easily. At the least how about drawers/pull out bins.
    -Unorganized shelves also allow “variation in use” otherwise know as piles of cr@#. How about bays to keep things straight and safe during transport.

    Also think it funny in video to see saw edges banging on hard objects underneath their till. Not a good practice to keep things sharp!

    Keep up the good work!

  38. Bob Davidson says:

    Damn! Too bad I I’m halfway through making the Traveling ATC. This Dutch chest appears much closer to ideal to me, guess I’ll have to make one as soon as I finish the TATC! I’m the type of guy that needs a sloping top. I seem to have a compulsion to cover every horizontal surface I find with piles of cr*p. I like the suggestion for a Campaign Tool Chest with separate, stacking bottom and top. Gotta make one like that! (Then I can use my Traveling ATC to hide a bunch of my power tools!)

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