At least once a month someone asks about lid stays for the Anarchist’s tool chest; now I’ll be able to refer them to this post.
Both Christopher Schwarz and I (now) use chains to hold out chests open, but they attach differently. Both methods work. As will multiple other methods, but these are ours.
But let’s back up two ticks. In “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” Chris directs readers to leave the back corners of the dust seal a little overlong and cut an angle on them. That will work if you’re gentle with your chest, and don’t use it all the time. If you are not gentle, and do use it all the time, that corner will start to break off – then you’ll need to come up with another method of holding your chest open.
After the back corner of his dust seal started to show its years, Chris added a rigid aluminum lid stay, held in place by knurled knobs. The problem – if you can call it a problem – is that to use it, you had to unscrew the knob, put the stay in place, then screw the knob back in. And reverse that to close the lid at the end of the day.
When I built the ATC I use at the Lost Art Press shop, I decided to add a nickel-plated chain to the outside, because I like shiny silvery things. So I bought a length of chain from McMaster-Carr along with some 3/8″ threaded rod, and found female-threaded finials on a lamp-repair-supply website. I cut two pieces of threaded rod to length, then epoxied them in place in the side of the dust seal and upper skirt. The chain fits over the rod; the finials screw onto the rod. (I’ve used this same approach on a couple of chests built on commission…but I added a threaded insert into the side of the lid and top skirt for extra insurance. Overkill, but I’d rather err on the side of solid when I’m sending out my work.)
Chris used a different approach, in part, I think, because he already had threaded inserts and knurled knobs from the aluminum lid stay.
He simply screwed both knobs in tight, then bought a dog collar.
In truth, though, both of us store our chests against a wall – so more often than not, it’s a wall, not a chain, that holds our chests open.
17 thoughts on “Chain of Tools”
Wasn’t Chain of Tools a song from the 60s?
Chain chain chain,
Love both solutions, thanks for sharing! Also fond of this one from Jameel Abraham – I went with a much less-refined version on my tool chest: http://benchcrafted.blogspot.com/2015/03/making-simple-lid-stay.html
Nice. Thanks for sharing.
In olden days, the lid of a six-board chest was frequently kept open by the raised lid of its till.
That must be why the round tenon on one end of the till lid is broken in my antique 6 board chest.
There have been so many iterations of lid stays over the years, I forget which version mine is from. But following either you or Chris, my chain is attached on the inside of the chest and lid. It works just fine, but the top till has to be pushed back when the lid is closed.
I’m sure my cats would really like if the shiny chain was dangling on the outside.
Is there a reason to not use a commercial chest lid support?
My first car had the redneck hood prop, a stick and a pair if vise grips.
Would it be out of place to use gas spring piston to hold up a the lid?
If it works for you, then it’s not out of place.
I bought an old chest that used a brass bicycle chain, with a link unattached at the end there is a perfect mounting hole for a brass number 8 or 10 screw. I use the dome top screw without threads near the top. The bicycle chain always stays straight and square while closing.
Thanks for the great idea! Finally, a good use for worn bicycle chains.
When I built my ATC chest, I planed an angle on both the back edges of my upper dust skirt, so that when the lid is opened, they meet along the entire back edge of the chest. I don’t remember the exact angle was, you would think 45 deg on each, but I think I wound up hand fitting with a plane. But it is an extremely solid and durable method, not prone to breaking or wear. The weakest link may be stress on the hinges, but that has not played out in failure yet.
I took the bar approach but instead of holes at the ends, I cut notches in the bar so the knobs do not need to be removed.
All great suggestions but I still need to build the chest first.
I bought a small yet heavy chain, pickled it and the two lag bolts for attachments in apple cider vinegar and salt overnight. The galvanized look is gone; it looks old. It attaches to the side and works well, the chain never once redirecting inward but hangs down the side as designed. I wish I knew how to attach a photo, because I think the mage would be useful.
I can’t get copy-paste to work.
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