New Tool Chest is a Joint Project


Juggling a book and a furniture commission is like juggling two balls – pretty easy and not all that impressive. These last two weeks have been a full on circus: two books in overdrive (Peter Galbert’s “Chairmaker’s Notebook” and Don Williams’ “Virtuoso”) and two all-consuming projects, some three-legged chairs and a tool chest for Popular Woodworking Magazine.

The tool chest is a joint project between myself and Jameel Abraham at Benchcrafted. I built the box (the easy part) and he created a carved marquetry panel for the lid.

The chest itself is a new traveling design based on a bunch of old examples of chests I’ve studied and measured. After a lot of calculations, I found a chest size that will hold an impressive and nearly complete set of furniture-making tools in the minimum footprint. And it has nice lines and is a bit easier to build than an “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.

I’m not giving up my floor chest. It is too much a part of the way I work. This smaller chest is going to be ideal for woodworkers who have limited floor space but want to hold a lot of tools that can all be accessed with one hand movement (just like the full-size chest). What’s the downside? There’s not a lot of room for moulding planes.

I’ll write up a full description of the chest’s inner workings and post a video on it when the sucker is done.

Jameel’s marquetry panel arrived about a week ago, but I haven’t had time to install it on the chest because I’ve been a slave to Adobe’s Creative Cloud software. But when I couldn’t stare at a screen anymore, I sneaked to the shop to install the hinges and attach the lid to the carcase.

The hardware is from blacksmith Peter Ross – Jameel and I decided to go whole-chicken on this project. I’m not going to show the lid here. That’s for the magazine’s editors to reveal. But you can see some glimpses of Jameel’s gorgeous work on the lid on his blog here.

The hinges are bolted through the lid and secured with square nuts.

The hinges are bolted through the lid and secured with square nuts. This is off-the-rack hardware, not from Peter Ross.

Here is the Peter Ross chest hinge on the interior of the lid and carcase.

Here is the Peter Ross chest hinge on the interior of the lid and carcase.

This morning I convinced the lid, carcase and hinges to work nicely together and released a huge sigh of relief. Now I just have to attach the dust seal to the lid. And add the crab lock. Paint the sucker. Attach the chest lifts. And write the article. No problem.

After three hours of 100-percent concentration on these hinges, I’m ready to work on something that has an “undo” button. Yeah, InDesign and Photoshop sound like a good idea.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
This entry was posted in Chairmaker's Notebook, The Anarchist's Design Book, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to New Tool Chest is a Joint Project

  1. jonathanszczepanski says:

    The undo button would be the one thing that if I could wave a magic wand, and bring from my design job to my furniture job I would. I do miss proceeding with abandon.


  2. Christopher,

    Any chance of a preview of the overall dimensions so we can all get started dovetailing while we wait for more details in the full writeup?



  3. Noticed your window tool rack (which in itself holds an impressive number of tools) is nearly empty. Was this a test run of the travel tool chest or yet another shop makeover? If the former, it must have been quite a feat to cram the perverbial 10 lbs of “stuff” in a 5-lb sack (verging on Studley-like).


  4. toolnut says:

    Any idea which issue?

    Also, I’ve been getting the “you must be logged on to comment” message and I am logged on. I have to try submitting again and it usually works. This happened a while ago on this site and I think John did something to fix it. I also got a security certificate issue with wordpress message and maybe that has something to do with it.


  5. Chris,
    Lovely chest.
    What’s the contraption clamped to the end of your bench.


  6. This new chest sounds perfect for me, as I haven’t delved into moulding planes yet and have limited floor space. If I ever do, I suppose I could just build a shelf.


  7. Looking forward to the plans for this one, thanks for giving a few of the dimensions


  8. Dave Reedy says:

    To get rid of the exposed nuts holding the hinges how about shortening the bolts and peening over the ends aka rivets? You could countersink the plates and when you peen the bolts the countersink will be filled, then file the bolts flush. You may need to aneal the bolts. Another idea would be to thread the plates before peening, this makes it easier to maintain the preload on the bolt.


  9. Paul Murphy says:

    What do you mean, carved marquetry?


  10. Brian says:

    This chest looks fabulous! And I’m looking forward to the Jul/Aug issue so I can check out the marquetry. That said, such an elaborate lid would seem to contradict your mantra for benches: use solid wood; avoid exotics; resist aesthetic embelishments.

    Do you think that your work over the past few years has been trending in opposite directions? As in, an artisan should experiment by making lots of (sometimes very fancy) shop accessories, so that one can then use the tools stored in those accessories to experiment with making simpler furniture…

    What I think I’m trying to say is, you seem to be maintaining a lovely balance in your work. And that balance defies sometihing many fans come to expect from celebrities: homogeneity. So thanks for keeping us on our toes!


  11. Tim Raleigh says:

    Hey, I saw a video on Vimeo of Jameel making the carved marquetry panel for the lid, but it’s disappeared. What I saw was amazing.


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