Home > Small Tool Chest, Techniques, Tools and Schools > Lid – Small Toolchest

Lid – Small Toolchest

One of several features in this project is the design of the too chest lid. The lid teaches the methods necessary to make a door with mortise and tenon joints and raised panels. Knowing that I need to develop a twist free lid I begin this stage by making a mortise guide. Similar to the guide I made for the table project, I begin with a scrap piece of ash with the grain running vertically and then carefully cut and plane a piece of Oak to 1/4 inch that will be placed as a guide for the chisel. I learned from my first guides that grain direction and wood choice is critical. The vertical grain on the ash will prevent bending and the horizontal grain on the oak will resist wear.


The guide which is a Paul Sellers Design works brilliantly when you need a perfectly straight mortise. With the guide gluing, I turned to the rails and grabbed my plow plane to cut grooves for the panels. It took me approximately 45 minutes to cut all of the grooves for the top and bottom panels. If I had sharpened up when I began, instead of waiting until the last couple of pieces if would have gone much quicker.


With the grooves in place I turn my attention to marking up all of the mortises and tenons. This is definitely an area where I have a high probability to make a mistake, so I slow down, double check my measurements and think carefully through the process. Wild doing the marking I ganged all of the rails together to ensure that the markings are precise from one to another. Also I work from one end only, eliminating errors that may come from slight deviations in length.


With six mortises and tenons completed the chest design begins to come to life. Next, the bottom and raised panels!


  1. November 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

    The chest is looking great. I have never used a mortise guide. I will definitely have to try that next time. Who makes plow plane you used?

    • November 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      The guide has been a big help when I have to be spot on with a mortise. I learned the hard way about the grain direction and thickness to prevent flex. I have been using a veritas plow plane. Most of my tools are old but I had difficulty finding a plow plane with all of the blades and when I added up the cost of purchasing additional blades new or used it was just as cheap to purchase new. I like the veritas plane, the only caution I have is ensure the adjustment is well tightened. This appears to be true for all of the plow planes and not just the veritas.

      Sent from my iPad


  2. November 11, 2013 at 11:16 am

    wow, looking good!

  1. January 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm

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