Archive for the ‘Tool Chest’ Category

Toolchest – Oops and other bad words

January 13, 2013 1 comment

This post was supposed to contain the final glue up of the toolchest lid and skirts but………it will now be written as:

Oops how to adjust your skirt after the clamp slipped.


The weather finally peaked above freezing and with a weekend that looked unseasonably warm it was the perfect time to make the final glue up and prepare to paint. The bottom skirt and lid were in place and with help from my son it all went reasonably well. The upper skirt was fitted and trimmed, clamped in place and left overnight to glue. Feeling rather spry this morning and preparing for my son’s soccer game, I took the clamps off and moved the chest into the garage ready for the final scraping and adjustments. Placing the lid on top it quickly became apparent that something was not right. There was a 1/4″ gap between the lid and the skirt on one side. Visions of quick fixes, plane work, repairs, danced in front of my eyes until one solitary thought lingered, the hammer. No not the rubber mallet or the framing hammer, but the “double jack” some people may call it a sledge hammer but to an underground miner it will have that unique name. A few taps here a quick wack there followed by an endless pounding would certainly relieve my frustration, but alas I needed to get to that Soccer game so fortunately the chest, however disfigured was spared.

A couple of hours later with a clear head I began removing the front of the upper skirt. I did this carefully by cutting across the width with a saw then carefully separating the skirt from the carcass using a chisel. It came away with little protest leaving some wood to be pared away with a chisel. I carefully cleaned up the tails from the prior joints and began looking for a replacement piece of lumber.


After loosening the side rail I was able to position the replacement skirt and mark out the pins for the dovetail joint. Another hour or two of drying and the glue would have made this much more difficult. The second round of gluing and clamping went much easier with the two sides already glued in place.

Making mistakes is part of the learning process and without them our education would be incomplete. After the initial frustration passes the challenge of finding and implementing a fix can be quite enjoyable and when the results leave the carcass unblemished no one will know. Much of the furniture I have made has stories to tell and as you know many of the pieces we see in museums have unique characteristics and stories waiting to be discovered.

Now onto that scraping….


Tool Chest – Lid Panel

December 31, 2012 1 comment

Completing the Tool Chest lid requires preparing the panel to be inserted into the frame and adding the dust seal. I cut the panel to size and using my #4 plane smoothed the edges including the end grain. I remembered to work the end grain from the edge in to the center from each end to prevent tear out. Next is a groove around the panel to insert into the groove in the panel. Another excuse to use my plow plane. This is quickly becoming one of my essential go to planes. Couldn’t miss the chance to show a different type of shaving.



I used the same set up to tackle the end grain with the exception that I needed to be very careful not to tear out the end of the goove. By stopping short of the end the skate forced the plow plane upward at each pass leaving the groove in the first photo. Since the groove was not in the exact middle of the board I cut both end sections before adjusting the plane to reverse direction and clean up the rest of the groove in each end. The plane worked beautifully.










Next step was just glueing and clamping the panel. I had to take it inside after gluing so that there was enough warmth for the glue to set properly. Tomorrow the dust seal.



Tool Chest Lid – Mortises

December 28, 2012 2 comments

Woodworking presents challenges and different techniques on a regular basis. Often it is as simple as planing figured wood or getting a great fit with a dovetail. Today presents an entirely new challenge cutting a through tenon. I have made plenty of mortise and tenon joints, even some that looked great, but I have never made a through Tenon. Follow along and feel free to critique.

20121223-110756.jpgThe lid of the tool chest is of frame and panel construction. All of the boards are 7/8 poplar and I spent time ensuring they are square and smooth. Laying them on the chest I marked the lengths with my marking knife around the entire board and then used my paring chisel to prep the edge for a first class saw cut.

After sawing all of the frame boards to length I cut grooves to receive the panel into each side of the frame boards. I really like using my plow plane to cut these groves. There is something calming in the sound of the plane slicing through the wood and feeling it curl up past my finger tips. In about 15 minutes I have plowed grooves in all four boards and am ready to cut the tenons.


I placed the boards on the tool chest again to mark the location of the tenon joints. If you are a 100% hand tool person skip the next sentence. I took each of the frame boards over to the table saw and cut the tenons. After all it was 30 degrees in my shop. Cleaning up each of the tenons with a block plane only took a few minutes and I test fitted in the groove plowed earlier. I’ve been researching making through tenons for the last several days without a Lot of luck. I did stumble across a very neat video from Paul Sellers showing a side view of his method for cutting mortises, this is the method that I intend to use. I also plan on marking the mortise on each edge of the boards and cutting from each side to prevent tear out.

Many of my tools are used and have come from estate sales, yard sales ebay, hand me downs etc. I looked for mortising chisels for quite some time, even through the piles of chisels at the Midwest Tool Collector Association and decided to purchase new. Pricing was not much different so last summer I ordered two new chisels from Lie-Nielsen, the first mortise chisels I have ever owned. This was my chance to put them to use making a very deep tenon.

20121227-192633.jpgThe mortise is marked out using my marking gauge and knife being careful to account for any minor differences in the width of the mortise sides. Using my paring chisel I carefully removed material adjacent to the marks then chiseled out the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Turning the board over I transferred my marks from the front edge to the back and marked the mortise location in the groove. I could never have done this with a pencil. Taking out my drill I attached a 5/16 auger bit and proceeded to drill out the waste. I drilled within 1/2″ of the mortise on the other side. Next using my mortise chisel and bench chisels I removed the rest of the waste.  Well that’s the way it worked in two of the mortises……Fortunately two of them will be covered by the dust seal. I learned several things along the way; starting the mortise 3/8″ in from the side is two close. I split the side on the second mortise and moved the last two in to about an inch. Take your time on the initial cut. I took twice as long to do the third and the fourth and it shows.  Practice..Practice.

Next step is the Panel for the lid, dust seal, then glue up. It’s starting to take shape.


Chamfer the Skirt Boards

December 17, 2012 1 comment

photo 3The skirt boards look a little clunky on the chest which I am sure is why they are chamfered in the Anarchist Tool Chest. I don’t have any of the fancy moulding planes to make coves or ogees so I am going to plane a chamfer on the edge of each board. When I placed the dovetails I left plenty of room on the top of the lower skirts and the bottom of the upper. I disassembled the skirts making sure that I carefully labeled each one and their placement and marked the edge I wanted to cut. I did this by setting my round marking gage to approximately 1/2 inch and running a mark down each side. Next I used my combination square to mark a 45 degree angle between these marks.

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A couple of comments about my tool selection. I resisted for a long time purchasing a round marking gauge preferring to use the old english style mortise gauge. After reading a lot of blogs I noticed that most people were using the newer style so I purchased one from Veritas. This was a great investment and greatly improved the accuracy of my marks. After a few months I decided to purchase a second gauge, unfortunately I picked it up from a local woodworking store and I was sorely disapointed. It sits in a rack by my wall unused due to its inability to hold a setting. Please buy a round marking gauge, they are awesome, but ensure you buy a top brand. The second tool that I used for doing the chamfers is the the Moxon style vice from Benchcrafted. This alone has changed my woodworking for the better. When I purchased the vice it seemed very expensive and I looked for alternatives, I’m glad I did not find any. I made the vice jaws out of Maple and installed the hardware and not a project has gone by since, that I have not praised its performance. There is 24 1/4 inches between the screws which easily handled the chest sides and anything that I plan to make in the future. I hope to see more of the vices produced by Benchcrafted in the future and maybe install them on a new bench one day.

I started to chamfer the edges using my Stanley #7 but quickly realized that a #5 performed the task well and was much easier to hold. The blade was set aggressively and made short work of the edges. It took approximately 15 minutes to do the upper skirt and another 15 for the lower. After reassembling the skirts I then had to plane off the last corner to get the pieces to mate. The next steps on the project are installation of the skirts, making the lid and then painting. I’ll complete the lid prior to the skirt installation and glue them all up together. It’s getting more and more difficult to man handle the chest inside where it is warm enough for the glue to set so I’ll try to do it in one more trip. There is something very satisfying about making a plane work and I finished the evening very satisfied.

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Skirt Boards

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Adding the skirt boards to the tool chest should be a fun challenge. As I looked at the chest and began to formulate a plan It became clear that I needed to do a little more smoothing. Most of the problems I had with the dovetails on the carcass were caused by inconsistent planing of the boards. Once you begin assembly you have to be more creative when it comes to positioning work pieces.Placing the chest over the end of my bench I was able to clamp it down firmly and plane the sides until I was satisfied. I then had to position the chest so that I could plane the ends. since It would not fit over the end of the bench as it had on its side, I placed it adjacent to the bench and clamped it in place using the tail vice. I carefully planed all the corners square using a block plane and a #4 plane. I then took my number 7 and planed the sides between the corners using a long straight edge to ensure they were not bowed. It took about twenty minutes to complete all four sides.

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This is the first time that I have really wished for a much heavier workbench. As I planed the sides the bench moved quite a bit and wobbled slightly. I’ll make some more notes for

photomy bench build in the future. I next milled all of the pieces for the skirts leaving them long so that I could fit each one individually. All of this added wood is going to make a very heavy chest, it will have to be weighed later.

I took one of the end skirt boards marked a 90 degree line and cut it careful and then squared up the matching side skirt. Marking and cutting the dovetails for this corner I took the lessons that I had learned from the chest carcass and took extra time to clean between the tails and the pins and had some very nice dovetails. Carefully working my way around the chest I reached the final board. Getting this one to fit correctly took some very careful measurements. My assistant came out to help me as I clamped the dovetailed boards together and then carefully marked the lengths I needed with a marking knife. An hour later and I had all the dovetails cut and the bottom skirt was completed with the exception of the chamfer.

Moving ahead I gathered my stock for the upper skirt and dust seal. These boards required more prep work since one had a nasty twist, but after about 15 minutes I had it true enough to use. The upper skirt only required one dovetail which made it a very quick process.

Bottom Boards and Cut Nails

December 10, 2012 1 comment

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I put tongue and groove joints onto the bottom boards to be used in the tool chest. The glue up of the tool chest carcass yesterday will finally let me trim them to a finished dimension and attach them to the bottom. Last week I began looking for cut nails. They are used in The Anarchist’s Tool Chest and in The Hand Tool School. These will be a new experience for me, firstly because I rarely use nails in my woodworking and secondly because I have not seen a cut nail except in my grandfathers tin of nails. I went to the web today hoping to find a source for cut nails and ended up driving to a local woodworking store to pick up 6d nails which are two inches long. Cut nails seem very expensive compared regular nails so I hope they are worth it.


The bag that the nails came in was pinned closed with one of the nails which is pretty neat and I commented upon it to my wife who is always amazed when I notice some design element. The nails were packaged by Brooklyn Tool and Craft which is part of Tools for Working Wood. Kudos to them for the unique design.

After carefully laying the bottom boards on the chest so they over lap the edge slightly I drilled a hole through the board and into the edge of the chest. Not sure if there is a way to sharpen the drill bits but they seem to be dull. I will have to research it later. Installing the nails was no different then a regular nail with the exception that I had to carefully align the nails so that I did not wedge the end grain apart. All went well except for the one nail that I placed too close to the edge, but that will be easily repaired with a plane. I used dimes to insure an even separation between the boards. Hopefully that will allow for any movement. Over time I will watch this to see if something thicker like a nickel or quarter would work better.



Many woodworkers listen to music or the radio in the shop.It is always interesting what I listen to; for preparing stock it is always music, cutting grooves such asthe tongue and groove in this project a podcast such as car talk or wood talk, and for dovetailing and new methods I listen to RadioLab, Freakanomics or This American Life. I was focusing pretty hard on getting the boards correct so it was a RadioLab night.

Once the nails are in an set a quick chalk line along the edge and I took out my handsaw and trimmed the boards as close to the edge as possible. Next turning the chest on its side I planed the edges flush. Several things came to light as I worked. I planed the sides with the chest standing on end but the sides I had to kneel on the floor. Since I have an aversion to kneeling on concrete I placed some cardboard on the floor which of course helped the chest slide across the floor as I planed. Once it ended up resting against the bench I stopped chasing it around. Next time…. i’ll probably place it against the bench to begin with. In the second photograph you can see the damage I did to the tongues by planing from the wrong direction. When I planed form the groove to the tongue I had no problems. Pretty happy with the result!


Tool Chest Glue-UP

December 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Its cool with rain today, not the hard downpours that you get in the summer but the gentle rain that if it were a couple of degrees colder would turn to snow. With the temperature hovering in the high 30’s I’ll have to glue up the tool chest indoors. I move the tool chest parts into the dining room along with a large piece of cardboard a dozen clamps, square and rubber hammer. They sit quietly for a couple of hours basking in the warmth of the house and then I begin to test the clamping plan making sure that I have everything close at hand.

Not long ago I would wipe glue on the parts pound the joints together then scramble for clamps, cauls, paper towels and anything else required. It certainly is easier to lay everything out test clamp and then begin glue up.


Smoothing Tool Chest

December 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Now that all of my dovetails are cut and fitted and before glueing the carcass I want to make sure I have smoothed all of the surfaces. Like most of you it took me a while to realize that the time to smooth a project is before it is glued together. Many of my earlier projects have machine marks and plane tracks where I could not reach after glue up or simply could not see. As the days have shortened and the temperatures are colder I have less light to work with and am reluctant to open the garage door. By using a small raking light I have a better chance of spotting all of tracks and marks.The best part is I didn’t have to buy the light just dig it out of a box in the basement, pop a bulb in it and It was good to go.

The picture of the inside of the chest doesn’t show the real ugliness. I made quite a mess on onDSC_0011e side and quickly realized that I had used a different smoothing plane that had no camber on the blade. A couple of months ago Shannon at The Hand Tool School helped me out quite a bit by demonstrating how to camber a plane blade. While sharpening I press down one side a a time for five swipes across the stone and I rarely have tracks like this. Well except when I pick up a plane that hasn’t been cambered.

An hour with the old # 4 plane and a card scraper and things begin to look much better. I do not have a #80 scraper and although this doesn’t take long to finish up I am wondering if it would be easier to smooth with one. Obviously it would be even better to get it right the first time. The interior on this project is much more important than the exterior. I will stare at the interior every time I reach for a tool. I plan on painting the exterior when i am finished and leaving the interior alone. Glue Up tomorrow.


Glue up Tomorrow!

Tongue and Groove

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment

The bottom of the tool chest has been a bit of a conundrum. Should we go with a quick and dirty ship lap or a tongue and groove joint for the bottom boards. Initially the lapped joints appeared to be simpler and within the range of my plow plane. I purchased a veritas plow plane earlier this year and was eager to put it to work. However the tongue and groove is a more solid joint and a little more challenge than the lap joint. If I wanted tongue and groove I saw no option except to use my dado cutter in the table saw. Not DSC_0008wanting to use power equipment on the project I began looking around the web for options and quickly realized that Veritas had a conversion kit and blades for making tongue and groove. There is a video at the link that gives all of the details.

DSC_0014A quick email to Lee Valley and a few days and I am the proud owner of new blades, I then attached a cherry fence to ensure the plane rides securely along the board  and Bob’s your uncle…..


The plane worked wonders and within 30 minutes I had placed tongue and grooves in all eight of the bottom boards. Every once in a while you find a tool that is such a pleasure to use and has such great results that you want to keep using it. So I put tongue and grooves on the back of my saw till. Then I began looking at some other projects….

Needless to say If you have not got a Veritas plow plane with the conversion kit for making tongue and grooves it’s a must have.