Monday, December 7, 2015

Put a lid on it

Having moved the saws from the lid of my tool chest to the tote last week, I began thinking about what to do about the lid, intending to make a new one.  This was the same question that perplexed me when I first made the chest several years ago.  I looked yet again at all the pictures of historical and modern tool chests I could find without seeing anything that appealed to me.  On a whim I tried knocking off the pieces for holding the saws I had attached to the existing lid and they came off with only cosmetic damage.  Being lazy and cheap by nature, I decided to just put a new 1/4" baltic birch plywood skin on the underside of the existing lid rather than make a new one.  That left 1 1/2" of clearance under the lid where the saws had been to do ... what with?

I have a very strong opinion that a practical use should be made of the inside of the lid on a tool chest.  You could argue that putting too much weight on the hinges is an issue, perhaps why saws were often put there historically, but my chest has a Lee Valley stainless steel piano hinge with screws on 2" centers attached to hard maple.  The bigger issue to me is holding everything you put on the lid in place both horizontally when the lid is closed and vertically when it is open.  Large thin tools that are easy to secure are the best candidates, another reason why saws were the historical choice.  When I thought about it this way, some good candidates sprang to mind:  winding sticks, a straightedge and a square that I have made:

This is a good place to store them and, as a bonus, these tools are nice to look at.  I'm now thinking of some additional ones I can make, like Chris Schwarz's english layout square, for example.  Eventually, I envision this space being filled with tools I have made.

In response to my last post, Ralph commented that my top till looked somewhat jumbled, just the impetus I needed to address something I have noticed too.  I made some dividers out of 3/8" maple:

Finally, something I hadn't realized and didn't read anywhere when I was building my chest is that you want to grasp the handles on the tills "upside down."  This had an easy solution, which looks nice to my eye.  I just added some maple finger pulls to the tops of the purpleheart handles:

I think this tune-up is going to do it for another several years.  The tool chest of about this size is a classic form and coming up with my own version of it has been very enjoyable.


  1. I like the till. It's orderly and to my thinking, tools aren't banging around against each other.
    I don't understand why the handles are upside down?

  2. It's awkward to reach down into the box and grasp a handle from the bottom. It's much more convenient to use your fingers to open the drawers from the top. I think that's one reason Chris Schwarz uses finger pulls on the tills in is Anarchist Toolchest. I wanted handles that would also serve as "bumpers" for my saw tote.