Glue the Skirt to a Tool Chest


The most stressful part of building a tool chest is gluing the lower skirt to the carcase. The fit has to be perfect. If it’s not, the skirt won’t go on at all (this happened to a student once). Or it will be a little loose and you’ll have an ugly gap between the skirt and the carcase.

The first hurdle is to get the four skirt pieces to the perfect length. Here’s how I do this: Dovetail one corner of the skirt, assemble it dry and clamp it in place to the tool chest. Make sure the skirt is dead flush with the bottom edge of the carcase.


Then use a block plane blade to scribe the baselines on the skirt pieces.


Then use a scrap that is the same thickness as your skirt material to pencil in the final lengths of the skirting pieces. Crosscut them and shoot them to final length.

Repeat the process with the other two skirting pieces. Cut the profile on the top edge of the skirting boards (I used a 30° bevel) and plane off the machine marks on the outside of the skirt boards.

The skirts extend 3/4” below the bottom edge of the carcase, creating a rabbet for the bottom boards.


To create this rabbet, nail four scrap pieces of your bottom material to the bottom edge of the carcase. When you glue the skirting to the carcase, those parts will need to be flush with the bottom of these scrap blocks.

Gluing on the skirt is like docking a ship. Glue the two long skirt boards to one short skirt board. Paint the inside of this U-shaped assembly with glue and slide it onto the carcase. Flush the skirts with the scrap blocks as best you can.


Then glue on the fourth skirting board. Place the assembly on a benchtop and knock the skirt boards down until they are flush against the benchtop. Clamp up the dovetails to squeeze out any gaps in the joints. Walk away.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. If, after all this work, you end up with a gap between the skirt and carcase, decline to freak. I’ll show you a trick to hide it beautifully that doesn’t involve paint or putty.


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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10 Responses to Glue the Skirt to a Tool Chest

  1. Hugo says:

    LOVE It, love , love it. I am about to start the one from my Anarchist book thank you. Can’t wait for the other blog. Cheers Chris.

  2. lwoodt1 says:

    Your photos are as inspirational as the words you write.

  3. ikustwood says:

    Hey Chris , did I mis the part “First up: Choosing lumber and gluing up the panels. Look for it soon.” ??

  4. NR Hiller says:

    Decline to freak. I love it.

  5. Hugh Livingston says:

    I really like the tip regarding the plane blade to mark the dovetail depth! Important to minimize the back bevel.

  6. Jason Weigle says:

    Totally agree – the skirt is the most stressful part of the build! I appreciate the suggestion of the scrap block spacer for making sure the skirts are even the entire way around.

  7. Willard Anderson says:

    When I make my tool boxes, I have a similar but slightly different approach. I put the tails on the long edges of the skirt. First I lay out one corner and dovetail it. Clamp the assembled joint to the box tightly, then lay out the second corner and join it. Clamp that to the box and lay out the last two corners together and joint. I then assemble the skirt separately, glue it, etc. The skirt slides onto the bottom of the box snugly. I put glue on the top edge of the skirt and the bottom edge of the box and tap it into place. So far gap free. Sometimes you need to do a bit of judicious planning on the bottom edge of the box to get the skirt started on its journey.

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