My take on the Dutch Chest #1: Initial Casework

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Blog entry by guitchess posted 04-19-2014 05:41 AM 1550 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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While perusing old episodes of The Woodwright’s Shop, I was inspired. This tool chest design seemed to me to be as useful today as it was in days past. As this episode and this chest have been talked about at great length, I will not go into details.

Schwarz had his chest full of pristine hand tools, all in perfect condition, sitting neatly in their well thought out locations. Mine will probably never look like that. Mostly because I am not a hand tool purist. After, 25 years in the construction industry, I am well indoctrinated with the time is money mentality. I grab the tool that will produce the work as efficiently as possible. Sometimes that is a hand tool. Sometimes it’s powered. So, my chest will hold an assortment of both. The lower cubby will be a nice place for my smaller brad/staple guns. I do have a couple decent planes that need a safe home.

On the show, it seemed like they cut the sides from a 1×12. I didn’t feel like 11 1/4” would be sufficient space, especially after deducting case thickness. Also, the lumberyard’s 1×8s looked much better than their 1×12s. So my case will be 14” deep. I don’t recall them mentioning a width, so, I just went with 26” because it will be an easy width to carry, and after case thickness, it can still hold a 24” square/level/ruler.

There has apparently been a lot of debate/discussion about the main purpose of the slant top. For this chest, it is really a function of accessibility. I plan to use this chest as a mechanic would use a top box. It will be sitting on one of my benches, or possibly a rolling cabinet(future project). The thirty degree slope will make it more useful storage.

While I plan on keeping the aesthetic traditional, Material will not be. The upper compartment bottom will be a scrap piece of 1/2” CD plywood. The back will be 1/2” sanded eply(? that’s what Home Depot calls it). So, I guess that means I’m keeping the front and sides traditional.

The only real issue I’ve had with this build so far is my inability to cut neat looking dovetails in softwood. I’ve cut many in hardwood and never had much problem, but this soft pine just kind of crumbles beneath a chisel(yes, it’s sharp-at least sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm). I worked with them till they were as good as I could get them. I didn’t want to make more panels or shorten my height to try again. While I did cut the dovetails first, I had already cut the panel to length. Next time I’ll leave them a couple inches long so I can have a second chance if needed. This pic is before any sanding/filling, so I think I’ll be able to salvage them, especially since the case is painting. Don’t be too mean. LOL.

Some of the black lines you see are layout lines that I left. After not being satisfied with the hand cut side, I decided to try it on the table saw. It was a little cleaner, but still needs work.

The next step is to make up my mind on the lower door detail, finish the top, and install the bottom and the back.

As always, any input, tips, ideas, etc. are appreciated.

Thanks for looking.

2 comments so far

View jeffbranch's profile


110 posts in 2827 days

#1 posted 04-22-2014 02:30 AM

I am curious where you got that photo. It is one I took last year at the Highland Woodworking/Lie-Nielsen hand tool event. See the original here:

All of my photos are copyrighted. I don’t really mind you using it, but I would appreciate a link back to my website.


View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15649 posts in 2793 days

#2 posted 04-22-2014 03:28 AM

When was the copyright label added?

Keep us posted with your build, guit. Dovetails aren’t bad at all. I learned using pine, so I’m kinda used to the way it behaves. Hardwoods are more challenging to me, less forgiving.

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

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