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Misc. Shop Stuff #4: A Vintage Tool Chest

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Blog entry by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 06-18-2012 05:39 PM 2476 reads 0 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Shop Fan Club! Part 4 of Misc. Shop Stuff series Part 5: Get a Handle On It! »

Bought this at Auction over the weekend, mostly to keep it out of the hands of an antique dealer. Nails at the hinges are the oldest I’ve ever seen – clinched and appear to be hand forged. Handles outstanding, also clinched. Plane tracks visible inside and out. But, no lid.

There are a few round (modern) nails driven in at the corners that I’ll remove, and there are four more driven across the dovetails halfway up each corner (one visible in the pic) that would require surgery to remove. The whole chest needs to be disassembled and re-glued / clamped to make it right, and that’s what I’m inclined to do… I’d like to complete this interior, build a top and make it a tool chest again.

No timeline, most important aspect is to be respectful of the history of this thing. For example, I’d love to keep the hinges installed as is and build onto the one board that still remains from the top (also evident in the pic), but what a pain in the arse to work that way when I think of what it’d entail. If I could be certain that the forged nails would live through the trauma, I’d pull them, straighten then re-use. I just don’t know yet.

Feel free to comment / opine below, felt like sharing this with my LJ friends and collect some other perspectives. Thanks for looking!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive



37 comments so far

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

5075 posts in 1186 days


#1 posted 06-18-2012 05:55 PM

Very nice Smitty! Glad it found a home in your capable hands. If you find time would you please post a picture of the hinges/nails?

Thanks for sharing and congrats on the score.

-- ~Tony

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

16033 posts in 1612 days


#2 posted 06-18-2012 06:26 PM

That would really good in somebody’s mountain cabin. Nice find.

helluvawreck
https://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View SamuelP's profile

SamuelP

755 posts in 1392 days


#3 posted 06-18-2012 07:51 PM

Go for it!

The nails will take it. After all they were not bought at HD LUWES.

-- -Sam - Tampa, FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10332 posts in 1364 days


#4 posted 06-18-2012 07:51 PM

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1861 days


#5 posted 06-18-2012 09:08 PM

nice project :-)
time to hi-jack a barn

Dennis

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10332 posts in 1364 days


#6 posted 06-18-2012 09:12 PM

LOL!

Thanks, Dennis, you are wonderful!!!!

The grin is certainly appreciated, I needed that! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Don W's profile

Don W

15521 posts in 1313 days


#7 posted 06-18-2012 10:49 PM

my wife would be using that as a coffee table. Great find!!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Mauricio's profile

Mauricio

6901 posts in 1897 days


#8 posted 06-18-2012 11:11 PM

I love those old chests. So much to learn from them. Have fun!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Dave's profile

Dave

11205 posts in 1586 days


#9 posted 06-18-2012 11:17 PM

Smitty what a find. I am in love. See if you can date it by the nails. The shape of the nail will help you date it.

Common eight penny nails used in house and furniture construction. The one on the left was hand wrought and hand headed either by a professional nailer or by a blacksmith in the 1700s. Most antique dealers and collectors can easily recognize this style nail (the Rose Head). The nail in the middle was made between 1790 and 1835. The shank of this nail has opposite side cutting burrs because the stock this nail was cut from was rotated 180∞ between each cut. The nail is severely side pinched under the head. This deformation was caused by the heading machine clamp pinching the shaft at this point to hold it securely so that the head could be formed. The nail on the right was made between 1835 and 1885. The cutting burrs are on the same side of the nail shaft. Same side burrs are evidence of an improvement in nail technology implemented in 1835. The entire nail was cut in one operation. It was no longer necessary to rotate the stock between each cut. The heading machine grabbed this style nail by the face to hold it so that the head could be formed. Notice there is no side pinching underneath the head.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Brit's profile

Brit

5303 posts in 1588 days


#10 posted 06-19-2012 01:08 AM

Great find Smitty. I would probably build onto the existing board in situ. My worry if I extracted the nails would be whether they would grip properly when I tried to put them back in the same place. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Thanks for sharing it.

-- Andy -- Old Chinese proverb say: If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10332 posts in 1364 days


#11 posted 06-19-2012 03:58 AM

Dave, first glance the heads (visible in the picks) are beat up enough to be rose heads, but this can’t that old. Body od the nails doesn’t hit any example just right, and I’ve both pulled and (re-)used the newer types. I’m guessing it dates no earlier than some of the marked tools i also bought at the sale- the ce jennings saw and a rosewood and brass morticing gauge- from 1890-ish though 1920 or so, but the earlier half. A guess.

Brit, that’s what I’m thinking, too. What style lid is the question.

Thanks, Don, Maur and all for input!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View mafe's profile

mafe

9670 posts in 1835 days


#12 posted 06-19-2012 03:19 PM

Beautiful!
I love a old box with plenty of patina, this one can become really something.
Perhaps a old pallet can bring wood for the lid…
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10332 posts in 1364 days


#13 posted 06-21-2012 09:09 PM

Well, Carters Whittling is building a chest and documenting it here on LJs, and reading that gave me the detail I needed to set my approach to this chest refurb. The lone board that was the top will be removed, but the plan is to keep the hinges mounted where and as they are. I’ll make a top that is skirted, then skirt the bottom as well, because those are what this chest simply must have.

I like the look, and the fact that lid skirts keep out dust and the like.

This chest likely had a simple two-board top and a metal strap to hook over the still-in-place loop. But it will be a bit more than that when I’m done with it. Is that bad? Don’t know. But the plan right now is not to restore but to rehab and make useful in a respectful way.

Now to see if I can find old, blue boards. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Don W's profile

Don W

15521 posts in 1313 days


#14 posted 06-21-2012 09:25 PM

I’m looking forward to see this build out Smitty.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Dave's profile

Dave

11205 posts in 1586 days


#15 posted 06-21-2012 09:30 PM

Dido here Smitty.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

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