Thursday, June 6, 2013


Here is the project after application of stain and Waterlox, which I chose for ease of application and repairability:

The grain on the third drawer from the bottom irks me.  I was using scraps and chose not to buy more material for a shop piece but now I wish I had.

To make finishing easier, I haven't installed the shiplapped back yet:

One of the interesting parts of making a traditional piece is to focus on the design.  Why is it the way it is?  Most of the mechanic's tool chests I am aware of have the drawers inset from the front of the carcase about an inch.  This is done to leave room for knobs and a removable frame and panel front that keeps the drawers from opening and provides a measure of security, since they usually lock in some way.  I didn't like this on my old chest because the knobs were so small they were difficult to grasp.  If the front panel is 1/2" deep, that only leaves 1/2" for the knobs, too small for my big fingers.  It does seem like a good idea to have the knobs protected by the carcase so they don't get broken off when you are transporting the chest and you definitely need a way of keeping the drawers from opening.  As for security, I am not concerned because I think somebody would just take the whole chest anyway and don't see the point of locking the drawers.  I wanted to come up with an alternative that would let my knobs be 1" deep and still provide a way to restrain the drawers.  I had an idea, but it seemed so cockamamie that I put off the decision until the last possible moment.  Here it is:

I drilled a through hole in the top and a 1/2" deep hole in the bottom of the carcase and put knobs on the end of two dowels as a way of restraining the drawers without taking up any extra depth.  I am pleasantly surprised because it seems like this will work well, although I admit it looks a tad strange.  No accounting for taste, but I kind of like the way it looks, unpretentious and functional.  I may do something different with the knobs if I get a better idea.  One of the concerns I had is whether the dowels would pop out of the holes in the bottom if the case is jarred, but I have several solutions if one proves necessary.  One is to put a rare earth magnet in the bottoms of the holes and washers on the ends of the dowels.  So far it doesn't seem to be an issue.

I have put off buying hardware due to indecision.  I picked out the hardware I really wanted from Lee  Valley, but it came to $111 for eight brass corners, 12 brass knobs and a leather handle!  It is the eight brass corners that are so expensive and I wonder if you really need them on a piece that will be transported very infrequently.  I am going to look for some more economical alternatives first, but this is certainly beautiful hardware and would really make the chest a showpiece.


  1. Looks great! Chris Schwarz had a blog entry a while ago on relatively budget friendly brass hardware for his campaign chest:

  2. Andy, How about hardware from an old suitcase. I just checked ebay and found several in the $25 dollar range with most of the pieces your looking for. Just a thought. Dohnn