Q: Rather than glue up a bunch of my reclaimed pallet wood, I’m thinking about using some pre-formed “project boards” from the big box store to build a Dutch tool chest (further glue-ups in the house have been outlawed, so it’s either that or wait until it’s warm enough for Titebond in my unheated shop). I’m not too worried about the source material looking like a bowling alley for Smurfs, but I question whether milk paint will stick to something that appears to be 30 percent glue.
And because they also sell a 16″ project board, I thought I’d ask if either of you have seen a DTC that deep. Seems like I’d have to make it 36″ wide so it wouldn’t tumble over, and at that point, I might be better off with an English chest. What are your thoughts?
A: You can certainly use “project boards,” but there are a couple of cons: they cost about twice as much as gluing up your own panels from 1x, and they are often moisture-laden. They might look flat and inviting while sitting there all shiny in their plastic wrap, but remove the plastic and they might cup like a Pringle. But they might not. It’s a crap shoot.
For a Dutch tool chest, however, a 1×12 is wide enough for all but the lid. In fact, that’s the recommended material for those who don’t have access to a jointer and planer (and who don’t want to process material by hand). So were it me, I’d look for the flattest, straightest 1×12 you can find, then go to town. And for the lid, when I’m gluing up panels for a class with our limited number of clamps, I use Titebond and leave the clamps on for only an hour. Now I’m not saying you should…but surely there’s an hour in the day when you could get away with it? (Then hide the panel behind the garbage can overnight while the glue fully cures.)
But yes, milk paint will stick to the project boards – but if you’re at all concerned about it, you can apply a barrier coat of dewaxed shellac between the raw wood and the paint.
And sure – you can make a Dutch tool chest 16″ deep (which will end up at 17-1/2″ after you attach the front and back). In fact, it’ll be more stable than the usual 12-3/4″ deep DTC). I’ve seen them in all sizes. The only drawback with making it deeper (or larger in any dimension) is that it’s no longer as portable.
Update: Sold. (I’ll let y’all know when I clean out my own basement…).
I’m clearing some stuff out of the Lost Art Shop cellar to make more storage room for Chris and his family (it’s their house, after all), and came across this poor, abandoned almost-done sugar pine Dutch tool chest from a class I taught two years (possibly more) ago. The bottom is dovetailed; the backboards are three wide tongue-and-groove pine boards (and as you can see, it features Rivierre forged nails). The battens and fall-front catch are red oak; the tool rack and “lock” are walnut.
It has sustained a modicum of water damage – but nothing that can’t be cleaned up with a little planing – and it needs a lid (I gave the lid for this one away to a student).
Given the fixes it needs – and the need for it to be gone – I’d be happy to take $100 (as-is) in exchange, just to cover the materials – the catch is, you must be able to pick it up at Lost Art Press in Covington, Ky., by August 9.
If you’re interested, please send me an email; my signature below is linked.
If you want to buy tickets for my March 28-29, 2020, Dutch Tool Chest demonstration in Omaha, the Omaha Woodworkers Guild has set up a web page for you.
You can buy tickets using a credit card via this link. The page explains the where, when and how of the event, and the pricing. It also explains how the raffle will work at the end of the seminar, in which you can win the Dutch chest I’m building that weekend.
I love all the little custom touches people add to their Dutch tool chests – drawers, tissue dispensers (no lie) and the various tool racks. On Saturday, I got to see a new variation on the lid.
During our most recent open day, we had a bit of an invasion force from Canada, with a supporting force from their U.S. friend. Jeremy (@jmawworks) bought along his Dutch tool chest and a chair he’d recently built with Caleb James. Ric (@fairwoodworking) brought along a bunch of of his lathe-less pencils and pens.
This isn’t the first time that people have turned our open day into a show-and-tell event. And we love it.
The lid on Jeremy’s Dutch chest is interesting because it is hinged from the front edge. You pull the lid toward you. And there’s a massive chisel rack on the inside of the lid. Clever.
In the second video, he shows off the drawer in the compartment below and uses the word “unit” one too many times for my tastes.
I’ve been home all week scraping stair corners and running a floor edger, so I haven’t gotten a lot done on my Dutch tool chest book (I would much rather be working on the Dutch tool chest book…). But that doesn’t mean I’ve not made progress! I’m on track to turn it in to my editor (that would be Christopher Schwarz) by the end of March 2021, and will work on the book’s design while he’s reading. With luck – and no floor renovation disasters – it will be out this summer.
One single-bay chest (aka the small version) is done and currently serving as window decoration (it still needs a good paint job); I’m mulling over options for a couple different mobile bases for it. A double-bay chest (aka the large version) is partially done and sitting atop my Anarchist’s tool chest, awaiting my return to the shop. I’ll build at least one more chest – size to be determined – so I can show three different options for the back and lids. And possibly a fourth.
I’ve a folder full of research notes on vintage slant-lid tool chests (and other slant-lid storage), and I’m collecting images from readers for the gallery (If you have high-resolution images you’d like to share, please send me an email!). I think that will be an important inspirational section – I can only outfit so many interiors, after all. And I’m working with Orion Henderson at Horton Brasses to offer a forged hardware kit (I’ll be recommending some low-budget-friendly options as well).
So what am I’m going to do with all these chests and bases? After I finish up the “beauty shots” (for chapter openers and possibly for the cover), they’ll be for sale. If anyone wants to put in a preemptive order, send me an email. Prices start at $850, and vary depending on size and hardware. And you can choose your paint color…as long as it’s not too crazy. Or be crazy. I can always paint crazy atop not-crazy.
P.S. To bring it back to my lead: Has anyone reading this used PoloPlaz Primero 275 VOC Finish on their floors? If so, thoughts?