The Dirty, Trembling & Troublesome Tills


You might look at the photo above and say: “Schwarz is a slob. Look at the mess of tools piled in his tills.” I don’t see things that way – open tills allow you great flexibility. The only problem is if you’re someone who doesn’t like their gravy to touch their peas.

Public service announcement: Gravy is good food.

When I look at the photo above I see something different that makes me crazy. Look at the soiled and oily area in the middle of the tills. Here’s a closer look.


Yup, those darkened bronze pulls on the tills are like lederhosen on a lizard – totally useless. When you work in a chest with tills you grab them by the middle to move them. Why? Because after a few months of use, your tightly fit tills begin to rack. It’s almost impossible to prevent. Each till is 8” wide x 36” long, so it doesn’t take much for them to jam if you grab them by one pull or by a corner.

(Duncan Phyfe had a novel solution to this problem, which I’ll discuss some day.)

Go you grab the till with one hand to move it in place and use your other hand to grab the tool you need. The pulls are for show.

But that doesn’t mean you should do a crap job of fitting your tills in the chest.


I fit the till bottoms first, then I build the dovetailed tills a smidge smaller than the perfectly fit bottoms so I don’t have to plane anything to fit.

Today I fit the six till bottoms for these two chests. It’s fussy shooting-plane work. A shaving too far results in a rattling, trembling bottom. Strive to get the bottoms moving forward and back with just a finger and without the aid of wax. That’s when you can call it done.

And here ends the worse SEO’d article I’ve written in a long time. Sorry in particular to the people who were referred here from

— Christopher Schwarz


About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to The Dirty, Trembling & Troublesome Tills

  1. Bill Morison says:

    That blue turned out even better than I had imagined. It may be the first nicely painted object that, when it sustains the first inevitable scratch, I do not wince. Interesting to see how bright the Sunburst went on. Thank you, sir!


  2. NPC says:

    Strive to get the bottoms moving forward and back with just a finger and without the aid of wax.

    Am I the only one that finds this hysterical……


    • Görge Jonuschat says:

      I tried it, and failed, kind of. I need fingers, many, and wax, lots. Oh, and I fitted the Nipplegateous Ringpulls. An hour or two ago. Before reading The Blog tonight 😂.


  3. Stephen says:


    If I remember from ATC, you recommended doing 2 piece bottoms with a shiplap to allow for movement whereas the pictures look like solid bottoms. Is it that the shiplap design is just over built and nails flex enough to allow for a solid bottom?


    • I’ve built them many ways since the book was published and have found that many configurations work. One- or two-piece bottoms are fine as long as you fasten them to the tills above knowing what will happen.

      With these tills, I will glue and screw the front edge of the bottom to the front edge of the till. Then use small headed nails to restrain the remainder of the bottom. This will push the movement to the back of the till and will make the nails bend.

      With two-piece bottoms you can screw them all around (and add glue on the long edges) and push the movement to the middle.

      I had wide flatsawn oak on hand, so this is the approach I took.


  4. bedrock608 says:

    How bout putting the pull in the middle??


    • It looks funny (to me) on a component that is as long as a dresser drawer.


    • Brian Hall says:

      That’s what I did on mine…mostly cause I’m too cheap to pay twice the cost for something I’ll never use. I don’t think it looks out of proportion at all and it’s very functional. My only complaint is that it protrudes enough to limit full travel of the till, especially since the till travel is already limited to the rear because of the tool rack I installed there…I’ve toyed with the idea of removing the pulls entirely and boring a semi-circle on the top edge of the till to serve as a pull.


      • johncashman73 says:

        That’s what I’ve done. No pulls, and small semicrcles on the middle front of the bottom two tills. It looks clean, and works great.


  5. fitz says:

    I “borrowed” one of my till pulls for my medicine cabinet; I miss it but visually.


  6. Stan says:

    I don’t think you are a slob. It’s a working tool chest, not a display case, and as such, well-organized clutter is a sign of both its utility and your obvious intelligence. See A Einstein’s desk.

    I have 2 flush ring pulls inlet into each of my 3 sliding tills, and don’t have a binding issue even after 26 years of use. Original drawer bottoms and runners. I do wax the runners with hard wax like daddy taught me.

    Re the dirty till fronts, are they finished with shellac per the ATC?


  7. Actually, you are a slob. Let’s just face that up front. But you are a highly functioning slob. And that makes all the difference.


  8. tpier says:

    Sadly, does not exist


  9. Kevin Thomas says:

    I like my gravy on biscuits, not peas.


  10. Paul Gardner says:

    Chris, how did you get that color blue? It is very nice!


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