Archive for the ‘Tool Chest’ Category

Toolchest – Drawers

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

There have been several posts concerning the drawers in the tool chest. Many of them deal with the softer wood used in the chest to keep it as light as possible. Wear along the drawer bottoms appears to be the problem with many people advocating the use of a harder wood for the runners and glued to the bottom of the drawer sides. My chest has been made out of poplar because of the weight and lower cost so I have been considering my options and have come to the conclusion that it is already too heavy to manhandle and I should use any wood that suits me! Now there’s a bold statement.


In the end I will use oak for the runners and the sides of the drawers. This should place the harder wood at the wear points and keep the cheaper poplar along sides. The first step is cutting all of the runners and support. This must be done first so that the drawer measurement is accurate.  I measured and cut apiece of Oak that is 1 1/4″ wide to support the bottom drawer and the runner fro the second drawer. This runner is supported by the saw till guide and a support in the corner of the chest which is 1″ square oak. The next runner sits on top of this one and is the width of the chest. The top drawer will sit on this runner. The photograph shows all of the runners and drawer slides in position.

All of the drawers are dovetailed together. In the book Chris Schwarz nails the drawer bottoms on. I could not bring myself to do this. Since I used oak sides for the drawers I feel confident that the drawer wear will be under control. The botttoms are made of two pieces of popular 1/2″ thick with a 1/4″ rabbit around the sides. To control movement I will ship lap the boards.

As of this post I have completed dovetailing two of the drawers before being driven out by the cold. My little heater managed to creep the temperature up to 30 degrees but it was not enough. I’ll have to wait for warmer weather, hopefully next weekend it will get into the low 40’s.

Tool Chest – Saws

January 27, 2013 2 comments

I am moving along with the inside of the chest and planning where to place my various tools. The saw till needs to hold two handsaws, a tenon saw and a dovetail saw. I have a couple of other saws, but I will keep them in the other saw till I have been building along with this project. (Think reading two books at the same time is difficult? I actually have three projects underway in the garage!) The two handsaws are fairly simple since they are approximately the same size, the tenon saw is much shorter, but has a deep saw plate so as long as I can support the saw in two places it should work well. The dovetail saw is a problem unto itself. It’s short length and shallow saw plate may require a totally different solution.

20130119-181023.jpgUsing the dimensions in the Anarchist Tool Chest I cut two boards to the same width and height. Since the ash I was using is prone to chip along the saw cut I used a technique from Paul Sellers and used my marking knife to make two parallel lines roughly the width of the saw kerf. Cutting between the lines I was able to get very clean, chip free edges.

I then marked the semi circle on the pieces using a compass, clamped them together and cut the curve with a coping saw. Next time I will make sure I have spare blades handy. I placed sandpaper around a piece of pipe and used it to sand the curves smooth. I used the table saw to cut the grooves for the saws. Carefully cutting a groove on one side, turning the piece over to get a matching groove on the opposite edge, then repeating on the second piece. Once all four grooves were cut I cleaned them up with a hand saw.













Next I cut a piece of poplar to fit the length of the chest and four pieces of oak to attach the till to the sides. Using my # 4 Stanley Plane I quickly smoothed all of the boards cleaned up the corners and stared blankly into the chest.

I needed to step back and carefully plan the position of the till pieces to optimize the use of space, support the saws and hopefully identify a spot for my dovetail saw. Supporting the hand saws and the Large Tennon saw demands that the till pieces be spaced no further apart than 11″.













20130127-183606.jpgI drilled holes for four 1 1/2″ screws in each of the till supports. I have not used a power drill since I picked up my Millers Falls Drill. The ability to carefully control the drill speed and position makes it very accurate and less likely to chip the wood at the exit of the hole. It also looks cool and only cost $7 with bits included! I screwed the supports to the board and placed it into the chest. I plan on using some polyurethane on the till pieces and on the guides used on the board. It should make a nice contrast.

I can see a place for my dovetail saw on one side of the saws and will make a support to hold it. Next step… finishing the drawers and drawer slides. Hopefully it’ll be warmer next weekend.


Tool Chest Hardware

January 19, 2013 Leave a comment


I spent a couple of days looking around local stores for hinges that would work for the tool chest. It is very difficult to find narrow hinges that will work on the 7/8″ carcass. Finally I ordered hinges and a lock set from Horton Brasses. They seemed expensive, but are very well made and operate smoothly. I’m thinking money well spent and will add to my tool roll for future reference.

Traditionally when installing hinges, I have used a powered router and a chisel in the corners with varying success. On the chest I did it all by hand in less time, with much better results. The hinges were laid out using a marking knife and round mortising gage, then I deepened the marks using a chisel. I adjusted my hand router to a portion of the total depth and after a few passes reached final depth and cleaned up with a chisel. Drilling the screw holes with my eggbeater drill gave me good control and I attached the hinges with the steel screws included in the package from Horton Brass. They also sent brass screws which I will install when the tool chest is complete. Best of all, I didn’t all in the living room while the shop was too cold to work.



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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