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The tool chest has a well up top for hand planes and saws. There are 2 drawers below for chisels and marking tools and such. I'm still trying to decide on the handles.
I’ve been doing more and more teaching and demonstrating these days, and I’m constantly throwing a bunch of tools into a canvas tote to take along with me.
Well, I’ve finally gotten around to building a travel tool chest that not only offers more protection en route, but also provides easy access to the tools once I’m at my destination.
The hardest part in building the case, though, was figuring out which tools would go inside. I wanted to make sure that I’d have the tools I needed, while keeping the chest to a manageable size and weight.
What I ended up with was a good assortment of planes and chisels as well as marking and measuring tools. In addition, it looks like I have plenty of room for sharpening gear and odds and ends. The only mystery now is how much it all weighs! I’ll let you know once I step on the scale with it.
So what am I forgetting? Let me know what your must-have tools are. I’ve got a little room to squeeze in a few more tools if needed…
Ok, if hard pressed, I could get by with just a smoother, block plane and shoulder plane. I added a jack plane just to have a second sharp plane on hand and a low angle smoother for use with a shooting board. For saws, I have a dovetail saw, cross-cut saw and japanese saw. If i could only take one it would be the dovetail saw. Oh, and a coping saw. Also, can't forget the trusty mallet.
I have a basic set of bench chisels along with a pair of skew chisels to clean out half-blind dovetail sockets and a triangular chisel for getting between dovetails. I could get by with a 12-in. combo square, but the 6-in. is nice to have around. Also shown: marking knife, bevel gauge and 12-in. ruler.
I'm starting to run out of things to put in the bottom drawer. So far, I've got a the rest of my layout tools along with scrapers, wax and sharpening gear. Can't forget the tape measure, pencils and band-aids. I always cut myself whenever I try to woodwork and talk at the same time.
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I've been having a a hard time deciding on what brand of chest locks to choose for my tool chest. I want them to be secure and durable. And not a lock that is merely a decorative item.
Which ones did yo use for your tool chest?
Hi, Mike. I would have the planes at the bottom of the case -- they're the heaviest items, and the contribute to the stability of a loaded case by being there.Cheers,
String, glue and a carpenter's pencil come to mind. Beside using string and pencil for drawing arcs, circles, etc. it can be used repetitive measuring.
Make all four wheels pivoting for easy maneuvering and locking so if elevated on a bench it won't wander. A stick of chalk to mark, chalk line, tape measure, apron, small but powerful flashlight. Did that black box have a sharpening stone?I love my 4 inch adjustable Starrett double square for marking joints.
As long as the oak is fully dry and condensation doesn't form on the tools, there should not be a problem. Machinist's tool chests have been made from oak for decades; Gerstner still makes them.
My Starrett combo squares have sat on an unfinished red oak rack for 4 years with no discoloration of tool or rack. I also accidentally left a piece of air dried white oak on my table saw for a month last summer, with no discoloration of either.
If the humidity was constantly near saturation (like Florida) I might be more concerned, though.
Michael and others, I've been following this thread with interest and noted the comments about oak being a risk for some steel tools. I am not familiar with the issue. How big a risk is it in actual practice, without direct wood/metal contact? Seems to me I have seen a lot of traditional tool chests made of oak over the years.
I'm from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Your tools box is useful for me to organize my home workshop but i wounder if i could get the plan in pdf form in order for me to build it.
thank you in advance
Quick word of advice. Store the chisels with the blades pointing away from you when you pick them out of the box.
The phone number for your chiropractor! Beautiful job, but I think it is going to be heavy when loaded.
It look nice for you.So Enjoy
I would replace the tape measure with a folding rule, or else add one. I'ld also suggest treating the interior of the chest so that the tannin in the oak won't corrode carbon steel tools.
I realy like the chest, I've been thinking of making one for myself. If it was me I would drop in a couple of gimlets.
I'm finding a big fat shoulder plane to be pretty necessary . .
Very impressive chest!
There are 3 items that I would add....
1. A Veritas angle setter
2. A Veritas sliding bevel
3. An Incra precision marking rule (preferably the 12inch)
You built a very nice looking tool chest. Unfortunately it won't work very well for transporting tools. Nor does it look like you'll be able to even pick it up very well. If it rides in the back of a pick-up, or van, or SUV...the tools you have laid out so nicely will be all over each other. The gentlemen that mentioned how the tools will rust in an oak cabinet is correct, you don't want to leave them in there for very long, which defeats the purpose of having the chest.
The best system I've seen and used is the Festool system to transport tools. It may not be the most romantic way of transporting tools, but it's the best...if you're trying to make any kind of income, or if time is money.
From what I can see, you did do a very nice job on the chest, and you could line the inside with a mohagony, or teak type of wood...and then keep it in the shop for your most priced woodworking tools. But as far as transporting tools...it just simply won't work very well.
Hi Mike! Greetings from Ireland. From my days back at the violin shop, I can say that a handful of tools see constant use in any project, whether furniture- or lutherie-related. A few are covered above or pictured in your tool chest already: a low-angle block plane with adjustable throat, a rotary marking gauge, compass dividers (well-sharpened points are a must), and a sharp, double-beveled marking knife. A few oddments that make the daily-use list are a clear plastic ruler (it's used for quilting, and can be had in metric or Imperial). These are great for measuring in places where you wouldn't want to risk damaging a surface, or need to see what's beneath the ruler. They have an accurate, handy grid along their entire width, and they're cheap to replace. A half-dozen Hatagane (small Japanese bar clamps) in their larger sizes are always there as are two medium-small quick grip clamps. A saw I always reach for is my "woodpecker-tooth" Dozuki saw--it is small, the blade is easy to replace, and the little tooth up front can start a cut mid-panel or even double as a marking knife. It might be seen as a specialty tool but if it's the only Japanese tool you own, it's a fine choice. (I see you've got a dozuki in there already!) If I bypass the Japanese route, I head for a small backsaw tuned à la Mario Rodriguez (http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/soup-up-a-dovetail-saw.aspx). My final desert-island tool is a bench hook. MIne is long enough to hook over front or back of my bench so I can use it with my Western or Japanese saws and the stop is shorter than the hook's width to allow for either of East/West sawing positions. However, the hook is small enough to fit into my tool chest. -Vlad
Good looking box, but not practical to transport your precious tools about in. There is nothing to stop them moving and clanking about and damaging one another. A couple of hours drive with the box in the car would see them all jumbled together. However as the original purpose for making, to take a selection of tools to demonstrate woodworking principles then the design of the box is probably ideal, as it in itself, it shows off a carcass build of solid sides and a panel lid, drawers using dovetails, how to fit locks etc etc.. An ideal show case, but must do something to stop tools damaging each other.
Nice job, but if all of us add our favourite "must have" hand tool, you will need a truck to move it. When I have to work away from my shop, I try to figure out just what I will need for the job and carry only the minimal kit necessary. Your design seems to me to be more than flexible enough to allow you to do this. I would only suggest a few thin drawer dividers so that tools don't knock against each other in transit.
Also, from the photographs, it looks as though you might be using oak for the box. Don't leave steel tools in an oak box for any length of time, particularly in a humid environment, as the tannins in the oak will corrode your finely polished chisels / planes in next to no time. My preference would be teak or mahogany type timbers.
fret/coping saw, small set of screwdrivers or a multi-tip, and a couple sets of dividers.
sweet looking little chest.
One thing that I haven't seen mentioned in the posts I looked at is sharpening stones. I have been caught a number of times on site with a blunt chisel and no way to sharpen it. It makes the job easier having sharp tools.
If you take everything suggested you cannot pick it up.Take a hint from Festool and use lots of boxes you can tote one at a time, but stack them up on one folding hand truck.
Put wheels on one end and a retractable pull handle on the other. Some sort of handle on each end to use to pick up and get it in the truck bed. In short, something like the Stanley carpenter's box I used for field work about 10 years ago.
Two things I always reach for are the square shank awl from lee valley and the stanley push drill for screw pilot holes
Unfortunately you made the wrong case for travel.Years ago fine homebuilding described a carpenters box with drawers for tools and a large open area in the base for planes etc. The cover serves to hold saws and long tools. I added a set of wheels and a handle and this chest has made many a plane trip , motor home and car trip as i teach hand dovetailing. Also the top serves as a bench when doing home repairs.This type of box was used by joiners whose work was more lik furniture as evidenced in older homes.
I am about to leave for three months but if I have the time I will photograph this wonderful chest fromFHB and send it along.In the meantime go to the archives and look it up
Uh oh, I think I'm going to need a bigger chest... Seriously, though, thanks for all of the thoughtful comments. I've already added a few tools to my list, and a few more to my wish list. I'm working out the dividers now and I've found some heavy-duty handles that I think will work.
The chest is weighing in right now at 61 pounds. I'm actually relieved at that number. As long as the handles hold up, I think my back will too.
Thanks again, Mike
Nice tool chest! Thansk for sharing your expertise with us Mike. Almost too handsome to use 'cuz it's gonna get some dings and things.
Must have tools-- low angle block plane, Stanley no. 5 jointer plane, half round file/rasp; LS Starrett combination square; lotsa pencils (they are always going astray). Sharpened gent's saw; vise grip (comes in handy more often than I can recall.
After it's all loaded, it's gonna be your daily work-out to carry it but, hey, you can't ever have enaough tools!!
4 or 6 piece chisel set
1/4" mortising chisel
egg beater drill
whatever sharpening system you use
small carpenters mallet
Those are the tools I use on just about every build. And of course a table saw. I could probably add a smooth plane to the list, I do use one but I think it's far and away the most overrated hand plane.
The tool box looks great! I hope to see it fully finished and up close when I take your class out at Marc Adam's school this summer. I've been thinking of building one of my own and I'm always looking for good ideas to steal from others.
I think most the others have already listed everything I would have mentioned.
Locking the drawers without the need to install a lock-set into each drawer face is accomplished by drilling 5/16 inch holes through the front inside corners of the bottoms of each drawer and the tool well. Then just drop an appropriate length of 1/4 inch hardwood dowel down through the holes when the drawers are closed to "lock" them in place. The dowels can be "stored" in the top tool well when not in use, as their length will be shorter than the width of the chest. That way, only the top section needs to be locked to secure the entire chest for the night or for travel, and you have some spare doweling available for use in a pinch to pin a joint! ;-)
Files, bull scraper, nail sets, and awl.
Small tape measure
12" combination square
Brace w bits
Strop w compound
Small router plane
Great looking tool chest. Adding Kaizen foam inside the drawers (and top section) would be a nice finishing touch. Available at Rockler or Amazon. It would keep everything from bouncing around and shifting when the chest is moved about. I have it in all my tool drawers so the items don't shift when the drawers move.
My set of gimlets,
Michael, I am not experienced enough as a woodworker to comment on the tools, but I love your toolbox. I particularly like the grain of the wood and the contrast with the darker drawer fronts to show off the dovetails.
What kind of wood did you use?
My daughter is a jewelry designer and asked me to make a similar toolbox to store her jewelry. I would probably go with more drawers and a shallower top for that purpose. She asked me to make it of elm after seeing some boards that I had cut from my woods with my portable chain saw mill.
My next project will be to make one for myself for my handtools.
I think the easiest solution is to have "cartage" included in your teaching agreement .... session guitarists in nashville do it all the time...make it as big as you want ..bring everything!!!!including the Cowbell....you always need more cowbell!!! lol
ah, heavy duty HANDLES for lifting the thing btw very niceas others have noted. I would use a roll up pouch for the chisels
Mike, I envision a book in the making. Maybe a weekly how-to show, of which the woodworking community is definetly lacking. How about a full length blockbuster movie!!!!! After all, look what TopGun did for Navy pilots!!! I think you are the man to bring woodworking into the mainstream!
Have you thought of lining the drawer bottoms with Kaizen Foam. It is great as you can create recesses for your tools (like chisels and measuring tools) by cutting away the foam. It either comes in thinner thicknesses for shallower drawers or I've even "resawed" the thicker foam just like resawing wood on a band saw. Even if you don't cut out the tool shapes to hold specific tools, the tools are cushioned and don't roll around. It's great stuff!
Since I see planes you must expect some finishing. I cannot live without my cabinet scrapers and small scraper plane. Would also want means of keeping them sharp and honed (file, small diamond stones and a burnisher). I use little leather caps on my chisels so I don’t need dividers in drawers.
Another 'tool' for the box loadout might be a couple of lists. You are building this for the purpose of teaching and demonstrations. I'd guess that you will do some sort of practice for the course or demo session, or at least a walk-through. Go through your lesson plan and set the tools you use out on a cleared bench as you get through using them. If you are doing a tour with several different events scheduled before returning to the shop work off of the pile of benched tools adding those you don't have out already as needed. That should give you your minimum load.
A photo or check list of tools for a given course or demonstration could minimize both the load as well the 'rats, forgot it on the bench' items.
Presumably the traveling box is not a separate tool collection but is loaded from the shop collection when you head out. Although it would be a fine 'reason' (excuse?) to add more to the collection. :)
I rather like the idea of the campaign chest approach too. A collapsible gurney might not be a bad idea either. Remember to bring your back home in one piece, as well the box and tools in good shape, eh?
I'm a boatbuilder. This has been instructive because I STILL don't know what I'd limit myself to if I went cruising. I do like the idea of the campaign chests because I could store them in different places. But, oh, the weight!
I was going to stay out of this....... But.... Hand Router planes traveling to a job????? The chest looks beautiful!!!! It is not however a traveling chest. Chisels should have divided spaces so they will not move around in the drawer. After opening and closing the drawer,moving it in and out of the truck and the contents will not be as displayed... If you look at old time tool chests, you will find that chisels are always separated from each other whether in slots or a drawer......Please don't consider a magnetic sheet to hold the chisels in place- over time the chisels will become magnetized...... Your workmanship is beautiful. If you actually use it to travel to a job, recommend that you devise a way hold the drawers closed when the lid is closed..... Is that a lock let into the drawer(s)? I like the work bench.....
I would add a wooden mallet and if room allows a small brass one also.
The first time you move the box, all those nicely laid out tools will crash into each other. I would recommend lining the bottom of the draws with a sheet of cork.
You can find a roll of it in a good automotive store - sold a gasket material.
Michael, Nice cabinet, looks like a fun project and build. The tools (so far) certainly cover the basics. Good suggestions on what to add, however, as has been said, the additional tools would depend on the task at hand. However no matter - we always seem to need one more tool that we left at home. With the weight the handles will have to be strong and secure. To secure the drawers it would nice not to need (keep track of) keys.
If you need to take clamps you can throw them in the canvas tote which is now empty. Clamps aren't quite as finicky about their surroundings and edges as planes, chisels, saws, squares, etc.
If you are concerned about weight, especially for a portable tool box, you could build this in sections, an over/under, campaign chest style, but smaller. Put each section in your car separately, then stack them, and latch them together at the work site.
Whenever I leave town my trusted wooden handscrews are in my suitcase. Looking at your box, not enough room, too bad but a couple four inch bar clamps might squeeze in. Personally I'm glad it's you and not me trying to make sense of this because, where is there room for my pin and brad nailers, compressor, and hose? Oh so many tools and so little room!
I never go anywhere without my Leatherman. I have graduated to the big deluxe titanium model for everyday, but carry one of the smaller versions even in dress slacks. Keep it sharp and it is amazing what you can accomplish before you could even find a tool in the tool box!
I don't see an angle gauge nor a compass. Your chest looks quite efficient and well made.
Guess it does depend on the task at hand, I agree. Ive thought about what to put in a nice carry all toolchest too but use diff tools for diff task. yet the essentials are covered. marking, sawing, chiseling, beating, planing.
Great job. I've been hauling my hand tools around in a Stanley galv steel 4-segment roller chest, but it's decidedly inelegant. What I don't see and carry in mine, in addition to the router plane and clamps already mentioned, is a coping saw, fret saw, chixel plane (small Woodriver) and side rabbet plane (also woodriver). I also throw in a red ball point pen, a white pencil (very handy for marking dark colored woods like ebony and rosewood), flat steel 6" and 12" rules, a screwdriver with interchangeable bits, a Yankee drill, and a pair of scissors. Looks to me like you'll be needing trunk or heavy duty chest handles on the sides. Plenty of weight with the planes inside.
I suppose what tools to include depends on just what sort of work one plans to do. If I am to do any face planing or edge jointing, whether by machine or by hand, I like to have a simple straight edge available. It can be of metal, plastic, or stable wood, 18 to 24 inches long or whatever will fit in the chest. At least one pair of winding sticks is handy to have as well. With something to lock them together they can do double duty for taking inside measurements and checking inside diagonals of cabinets.
Something I always include when gathering tools for a job is a 4 in 1 screwdriver. Mine is made by Enders and gives me two sizes each of both Phillips and regular tip blades - plus the hollow shank doubles as a nut driver in a pinch. A pair of medium size, round jaw Vise Grips are handy to have, along with a Crescent wrench. A mallet has been mentioned, but a dead blow hammer or other non-marring hammer of some kind will often be found useful.
I don't see anything in the photos for making holes in wood. I would include an eggbeater drill with a small set of bits, and, if there is room, an accurately made ratchet drilling brace with a roll of auger bits and/or center bits. Actually this latter is probably more useful than the eggbeater, if you also have some gimlet bits for it. Spoon bits are nice to have, too.
Lastly a cobbler's four in hand wood rasp will often come in handy. Oh, and if there is any room to spare, have some kind of small panel saw, compass saw, bow saw, or even back saw with rip style teeth.
I have a couple of those thin chisels, but can't seem to figure out how to sharpen them and get a a square face. Can you steer me on a course to accomplish thih this.
Some interesting choices there. I am surprised there is no provision for drilling holes though. And as someone has already pointed out, what about some clamps. I'd also want a cutting gauge in there too.
One last thing though: what is it about your projects that always makes me think "I want to build me one on those"? :)
Actually I see you have the marking gauge, too...
Love the project; beautiful case, Michael. I recently tacked the same challenge and am pleased to see my list of tools ended up pretty similar to yours (as a more experienced craftsman), though my layout is very different: (http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/47370/tool-chest). Marking/mortise gauge?
I will be curious to see what your final weight is...
Michael now I know why I didn't see the router plane or a space for one in your tool cabinet video series. I'm almost done with the sides of the case. I need to find a spot for both the 71 and 271 router planes...
Clamps? I presume the shops and venues where you teach would have some, but it seems no matter what I am working on, a clamp comes in handy.
Robert, Great questions, those are exactly the issues I've been struggling with. Yes, I was really hoping to figure out a way to secure the drawers without individual locks. I like the sliding front panel used on North Bennett Street-style chests, but in the end everything I came up with either limited the storage space or made the case bigger. Oh well, I had fun installing the half-mortise locks! Hopefully the keys won't be too much of a pain.
I am definitley trying to group the tools for use, and I'm hoping the top drawer can serve a removable tray for chisels as you suggest. If it proves too cumbersome, it should be easy enough to convert the interior dividers into separate removable trays... it's really becoming a fun project and challenge to solve.
Layout dividers, check.
Michael: Fair enough points about Chris's chest. I do like that you are including drawers in your traveling chest. Will you set them (the drawers) up to be somewhat complete sets for certain tasks? For example, will you have all chisels in the same drawer that you can take out of the chest and place next to your current work-station? Also, it looks like each drawer may have an individual lock morticed into the front; I wonder if having a mechanism (auto or manual) that would unlock the drawers when the top was raised might be more secure, and would eliminate the need for multiple keys and locks? As to tools, throw in a set of dividers for laying out dovetails - they take up hardly any room and are handy to have. Best regards, Robert
Nothing for fasteners such as screws and/or nails.
robbo41- Yes, Chris's chest is impressive and the book is a good read. He does offer a pretty thorough list of hand tools as well. You can see a tour of his chest on a great Roy Underhill episode (http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/video/3200/3204.html). Chris's chest is designed to hold an entire hand tool set and is literally big enough to climb into. I built a hanging tool cabinet in my shop to serve the same purpose, though my tool collection is a bit more modest.
In making this travel chest, I was trying to balance size with storage capacity. I'll have to use it a while to see if I got it right.
Damien- Funny, I don't own either the plow or router planes, but I've had my eye on both for a while. I just haven't come across the task to warrant the purchase, but I'm sure it's one of those situations where once you have the tool, you find the use for it. Veritas makes a very nice plow plane... I think I'm going to have leave room for that. Also, a shallow-sweep gouge is great to have around for odds and ends. Cool. Thanks, Mike
I have something similar, what I think missing is a router plane, a gouge and a small plow plane (record 43).
Pick up a copy of the Anarchist's Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz. His tool recommendations for what to include in a chest are spot on.
Carl Swensson's woodworking skills go very, very deep. But they go wide as well.
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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