I needed a modest-sized tool chest to transport tools I will be using at a workshop this summer. I wanted something fairly compact, not a “master craftsman” chest (another project for another day). I studied a lot of designs in books and via the web, including FWW. I highly recommend Jim Tolpin’s The Toolbox Book, even if you are not making a tool chest.
I decided to use some baltic birch plywood I already had on hand. I wanted something that would make tools easy to reach and return, with two smaller bins I could keep handy when working at someone else’s bench away from home. Using the fairly bland baltic ply, I decided to make a stark design and not try to hide the plywood nature of the materials. I like the decorative aspect of miter keys in a contrasting wood, so I decided to use that construction method for this project.
I will be attending a workshop this summer and needed something for transporting my tools. the case is made of 3/4" and 1/2" baltic birch ply with walnut accents. The solid brass hardware, including the mortised chest lock, is from Lee Valley.
Inside is finished with three coats of shellac to reduce the residual odor inside. Spots for many tools are custom-fit, such as the carcase saws, bevel gauge, and 12" stainless rule in the lid. The bins will hold an assortment of small tools, but there are special slots for two shoulder planes in the larger bin. Bins are made of 1/2" ply.
There's room for larger planes underneath the removable bins. All of the interior dividers and fixtures (except the chisel rack) are screwed in without glue in case I want to change the configuration later. It currently holds a #3 Stanley, and block plane, a Veritas Low Angle Jack, and a Stanley #6. the chisel rack holds eight bench chisels from 1 1/4" down to 1/8", two skew chisels, a scratch awl, and a marking gauge.
Exterior measures approximately 21"W x 16" H x 12 1/2" D. It is finished with three coats of semi-gloss General Finishes Arm-R-Seal as a wiping varnish, followed by two coats of wax. There are 32 walnut miter keys in the chest and 12 keys in each removable bin. The top and bottom are inset in a rabbet, glued, and pinned with 23-gauge pins.
There are a few things i would do differently in hindsight, but I am pretty pleased with how this turned out. I plan to continue to add a tweak here and there to fit in a couple more tools.