Monday, April 16, 2012

Tool chests Part 2

Full size tool cabinet makers' tool chests were historically up to about 2'x2'x3'.  Quite commonly they were dovetailed boxes with a skirt around the bottom and a frame and panel lid.  Sometimes saws were stored under the lid, sometimes not.  Here is a Sketchup model of a smaller version of Chris Schwarz's design that will give you the idea, here is a blog about building one, here is The Woodwright's Shop episode on building one (1st of two) and here is a neat video of Chris Schwarz's in use.  Frequently they were made of pine because of its low cost, light weight and ready availability.  Traditional toolboxes are usually painted and fairly nondescript on the outside, though there are exceptions.

Modern woodworkers use all sorts of boxes.  The most unusual I have seen is Joel's from Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn.  It is a steel jobsite box of the type used by carpenters, chosen in part for security.  Other woodworkers make a frame and panel box, this one with beautiful pecan panels:

I looked for pine and couldn't find any I liked, so I began thinking about alternatives.  I didn't think of a frame and panel design, which I really like.  What I settled on is economical, easy to construct, rugged and highly functional.  Many will not like it.  It is a maple exoskeleton lined on the inside with baltic birch plywood.  As you'll see later, I did put maple edges on the plywood to make it less obvious.  Although I have mixed feelings about this, it has served so well that I would do it again.  You'll notice that it is sitting on a dolly about 6" high made of construction lumber, which was intended to be temporary.  Since I planned to work directly from the box, I was concerned about bending over.  My plan was to make a drawer on casters to elevate the chest up to a comfortable working height.  In practice, I am very comfortable with it at this height.  If you want your chest higher, or if you need the space for storage, I still think this would be a good option.  My basic point is that you can have your chest at any working height you want.

The creativity and craftsmanship are on the inside.  That's next.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for picking up this topic! And nice find with Joel's article on his chest (I hadn't seen that before)