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Fine Furniture for Tools

Tool chest combines storage and convenience
while showing off its maker’s skills

by Steven Thomas Bunn

Fit for a showroom—Because the author doesn’t have a display of finished furniture, he built this toolbox to advertise his capabilities
to drop-in customers. It also offers lots of convenient storage with 20 removable drawers that can be carried to the workbench.

I
wanted a toolbox that was both visually striking and had a lot number and weight of tools I possess ruled out a box that could be
of storage space. Appearance was a prime consideration be- hung on the wall. I like the out-of-sight storage of drawers, similar
cause as a one-man shop, I can’t afford to keep finished work to a mechanic’s toolbox. I also like the idea of grouping similar
around as showpieces, and piles of wood or half-finished parts are tools in a single drawer so that I can pull out a drawer of chisels or
not impressive to a drop-in client who isn’t familiar with cabinet- gouges, set it on my bench and then go to work. Also, drawers
making. I needed a toolbox that, like the journeyman’s boxes of keep sawdust and wood chips from accumulating over my tools.
old, was an advertisement and demonstration of my capabilities. Incorporating drawers meant the cabinet needed to be relatively
I like the European-style toolbox that hangs on the wall with deep: I calculated about 17 in. deep to be effective. For both design
tools hung neatly inside. However, I don’t like the large volume of and practical reasons, I decided to put the tool chest on its own
wasted space behind the closed doors. In addition, the sheer stand, as shown in the photo above. The cabinet and stand offer

60 Fine Woodworking Photos: Charley Robinson

Small Workshop.exceptional storage capacity for pansion in the sides and shelves. Only the thing. I’ve found this doesn’t panels. Frid’s advice in FWW on The After preparing the stock. work in the real world. behind the case shelf. In fact. intervals. But with some slight modi. of grooves at 11⁄4-in. 63.. pp. behind the leading edge. To ensure the dadoes drawers in 11⁄4-in. I clamped the sides greater storage flexibility. Inc. Using together with the back edges Frid’s modular system. guiding the router against a theory is that you could make fence. as guide grooves. The locked the shelves in place with one screw at each end of the bottom was sprung into its dadoes. aligned 1 in. I posi.. drawers and tioned the fence. I cut matching dadoes in all sides.Y. tion. The counterbored and plugged screw was cen- with glue blocks from underneath. The interior could easily house linens. N. Building the carcase in the drawing. guessing game. take out two 11⁄4-in. the front edge of one of the side drawer. tered in the shelf about 1 in. bottom was left full depth to pro- fications of the interior storage vide a place to anchor the board- arrangements. I left a 1⁄8-in. slides into place between the shelves to hold long items that around makes finding tools a don’t fit in the smaller drawers. Once satis. fine hand tools at a height that So if the shelves swell more than keeps me from having to reach the sides. shelves and bottom are all four dividers to make the drawer- made of 3⁄4-in. driven through the carcase sides from the outside. fied with the fit of the dovetails. Then I up with a chisel. as shown front to allow for the bottom face frame and screwed into place in the drawing. out the back of the case. The unglued The shelves were driven in from behind with taps from a dead. I built the drawers. against the case side and hide the dadoes. squaring it to replace them with one 21⁄2-in. slide into dadoes routed in the ing Co. The rabbet in the top was stopped at each end and squared The two outside drawer dividers were installed first. I I’m tired of always being asked. I’m not After the dadoes had been rout. The two blow mallet. Shop or home furniture? This tool chest could be equally at two top shelves to form the home in the parlor with just minor changes to the interior to drawer support system. 18-19 (The ed stopped dadoes into the side Taunton Press) and made a series panels for the shelves and bot. cut a rabbet on the inside back edge of the top and sides for the “how come there are more grooves in the dividers than drawers?” back. the tool chest and-spline back.-thick stock. back of all the shelves as a safety measure in case of unequal ex. about to start making new draw- ed into the sides. the shelves won’t break up or bend down to get to any. shelf is free to float in its dado behind the locking screw. I joined the top ers to replace ones that I already and sides of the carcase with Oversized storage holds big items—This two-drawer box have. as shown accommodate china. china shelves also stop 3 in. I rout. gap at the All drawer parts were batched together and cut at the same time. assembled the joints. silver or even stereo equipment. of the Gate’s sewing cabinet shown in Measured Shop Draw. The tom. shy of the or electronic equipment. I then reassembled and glued the dovetails. But beyond that. Before installa- The solid panels of the case top. and changing the drawers through-dovetails and then dry. you could butted against each other. 1985). increments for were aligned. I followed Tage shown in the drawing on p. Slide-in drawer dividers ings for American Furniture by Four vertical drawer dividers Thomas Moser (Sterling Publish. as shown in the drawing. wherever possible.. front to leave room for the tools my tool chest is an interpretation hung on the inside of each door. from wood scrap except September/October 1994 61 . and clamped it in place. The front of the shelves were notched to fit tightly center dividers were added last from the back of the cabinet.

The only thing I would change is the ex- tom with a 3⁄16-in.-wide by 1⁄2-in. p. and they fit into the grooves cut into the vertical Base puts chest drawer supports. the front of the case (see FWW tailed at the front and through. as short enough to fold up and stow shown in the drawing on the fac. am very pleased with it. were mortised into the lock stiles ning the drawer bottom so that Preventing door sag—Legs screwed to the doors’ lock stiles and a keyhole cut in the face of just the right amount protrudes help support the heavy tools hung on the doors and prevent one door. Plan. the main drawer section are was made to hold the chest. But this one looks just too nice grooves with enough leeway to allow for seasonal expansion. at convenient height The two longer drawers below A four-legged base. Corner cut into both edges of five of the boards and only one edge of blocks strengthen the base and add support for the tool chest. A 1⁄8-in. Splines were slid into cessive number of drawer slide grooves in the drawer dividers. I have been using this chest for the past six-and-a-half years and bet. out of the way so that the doors ing page. These splines float freely in the storing items like routers and drills.the drawer fronts. The were made and fitted flush with drawers were half-blind dove. I glued strips knobs. The chest sits on the to store tools like rulers and rails. drawer runners. the top edge of the rails hides the Supporting heavy loads—Corner braces reinforce the mor. The remaining boards were screwed to the case top and bot. 60. close freely. #107. were glued on their ungrooved long edges to the case-back rab. I added a drop-down dovetailed at the back. for seasonal movement frame. as shown leg to the back of each door’s in the drawing. Maine. high. lock stile to support the weight of Before final glue-up. The back was trimmed. where I at. Steven Bunn is a woodworker in Bowdoinham. 67). as shown in the sides and fronts on the table. and cove molding glued to oversized screwdrivers. A to change. as the remaining two boards. The strips act as hole to open and close the case. also have considered replacing the stand with a lower case for to the rabbet at the top of the case. 62 Fine Woodworking . The legs are saw. as shown in the pho- tom extends past the back and to at left. so that the drawer bot. Board-and-spline back tised-and-tenoned rail-to-leg joint and enable this elegant The chest is not screwed to the base to support the heavy tool chest.  small brad was driven through a drilled hole in the center of each spline at the carcase base to keep the splines in place. A lock and strike plate can move with the seasons. I the grooves from the bottom edge of the case until they butted in. gap between each board. I had planned to add the hinge screws from pulling out. The two boards with only one groove shown in the bottom photo.-deep groove was were tapered on a bandsaw and cleaned up on the jointer. the photo on p. I cut the the opened doors and the heavy groove for the drawer bottom in tools stored on them. its weight is sufficient to The back is made from seven keep it from moving. The legs boards (see the drawing). I use the key in the key- to each side. joint between the chest and base. lets the bottom act as a stop wooden door knobs to the com- against the cabinet back when pleted case. doors were so striking without After final fitting of the drawers them that I never added the to their openings. which don’t have to bend over to get to was an addition that I made later my tools. 28 in. so I housed in a separate box. Legs support the tempted to cut all three fronts in frame-and-panel doors a row from the same cherry Two frame-and-panel doors board for grain matching. but the two plain the drawer is closed.

Rail Detail: Bottom-to-side joint 28 Screws. 3⁄16 in. Screw locks shelf x = 11⁄4 for top row drawers 431⁄4 tight in front and = 23⁄4 for bottom row drawers strengthens carcase. 11⁄4 x 11⁄16 Door stop. x deep 61⁄4 61⁄2 Small brad driven through spline and into case bottom secures spline. #8 x 11⁄2 Back boards. 171⁄4 Glue blocks Corner block Detail: Doors Leg 21⁄2 Cove molding positions chest on base. Gap. rabbet in case back. 1 ⁄4 in.Tool chest and base Outside edges glued to Splines. 3 ⁄4 x 11⁄2 3 Vertical drawer dividers 14 381⁄2 Divider dadoes. 1 ⁄4 x 1⁄4 Lower face frame. All stock is 3⁄4 in. Side 3 Bottom 7 21⁄2 ⁄8 Glue block Drawing: Bob La Pointe September/October 1994 63 . slide into grooves and are not glued. 1 x 11⁄16 Bottom toe screwed from 1 underneath to side panel. 5 ⁄8 x 6 Upper face frame. 1⁄ 8 x 1. = 21⁄2 for all other drawers Drawer slides. thick unless otherwise noted. Brass screws. #8 x 11⁄4 Panel secure bottom.

64 Fine Woodworking .