Heirloom Tool Chest
This classic chest offers a lesson in efficient woodworking
Synopsis: The tool chest described in this article is practical, enduring, and simple. Building it with hand tools can be a bridge to an era when woodworkers had an abundance of skill, but no power tools. Practicing the techniques will make you more confident with your hand tools and afterward, you may find them an indispensable resource in your day-to-day shop tasks. From dovetails to pins and finish options, Chris Gochnour shows you how to build an admirable chest.
From Fine Woodworking #169
A cabinetmaker’s tool chest embodies a certain nostalgia and charm for modern woodworkers. It speaks of a time when craftsmen had few tools but an abundance of skill. Tool chests often served as a calling card to display a craftsman’s talents. However, some were utilitarian, built simply to house tools.
The tool chest described in this article is of the latter kind—practical, enduring, and simple. But in a time when woodworkers have an abundance of power tools at every turn, making this tool chest with traditional hand-tool techniques can be a bridge to an era past. I recommend using this project as a hand-tool exercise, though power tools could be substituted for any of the operations. Practicing the techniques involved in the chest’s construction will make you more confident with hand tools, and you may find them an indispensable resource in your day-to-day shop tasks.
Select a medium-density hardwood that is worked easily with hand tools. Because the tool chest is intended to be carried, choose wood that is lightweight yet durable. For this box I chose cherry, which is easy to work and attractive; however, woods such as red alder, poplar, and white pine also are appropriate.
To reduce the likelihood of warp and twist, select clear, straight-grained wood for the lid frame.…
Get the Full-Size Plan
CAD-drawn plans and a cutlist for this project are available in the Fine Woodworking store.