Hand tool chest

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Project by brianl posted 05-17-2011 01:53 AM 6698 views 8 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Back when I did most of my work with power tools, the number of tools I had was pretty limited and usually they were pretty big. Table saw, Drill Press, Planer, etc… Now that I am using hand tools, I have a lot more tools, each of which is suited to a specific task. For example, instead of a thickness planer I have a collection of hand planes (#7, #5, #4, #3, #40, etc…). Similarly, instead of a table saw I have a collection of hand saws (Rip, Crosscut, Back, Dovetail, etc…).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my tools, but after a while my little working area was getting a little messy. I just had no place to store my tools. I looked at going out and buying a metal tool chest, but for some reason it just seemed wrong to go buy a metal box so I would more efficiently build wooden boxes. With that in mind, I started looking at building a wooden tool chest.

I finally found plans for one that I liked: The Craftsman tool chest at The plans specify oak, but since I’m a cheapskate I went with poplar. My thinking is that it’s shop-furniture, why spend a bunch of money on it?

Building the chest was a great learning lesson. I had never done drawers by hand before (did them with a 1/2” and a 1/4” plow cutter on my stanley 45). Nor had I done a lot of drawer work in general. Plus, now I can actually keep my work area neat! The one downside is that I did not measure a few of my tools and some of the drawers are just not deep enough. It only affects a couple of tools though, so it’s not too big of an issue.

Since it’s going into my shop, I just sanded it to 180 grit, put on a coat of Boiled Linseed Oil, and then topped it with some wax. I’m pretty happy with it. The BLO gave it a bit too much of a yellow tone. Maybe I’m just too used to using Tung Oil for shop tools and pieces though.

Lessons Learned
  1. The most important thing in carcase construction is to get the sides perfectly straight, parallel, and perpendicular. I had a slight bow in two panels I glued up and had to completely redo them. Clamping cauls are your friend.
  2. Adapt plans. There were several steps in the plans that were intended for power tool users. I could have bypassed them. Instead, I ended up doing extra work.

Now it’s time to build a saw till!

-- Brian - Belmont, Massachusetts

10 comments so far

View tctaylor79's profile


44 posts in 2592 days

#1 posted 05-17-2011 02:14 AM

Beautiful tool chest! I need to take some time and build one of these for myself. I have a lot of my hand tools in old dresser drawers, stacked on top of each other on the floor.

-- Tim Taylor - GLT Woodworks

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 3340 days

#2 posted 05-17-2011 03:18 AM

Nicely done.

I am in the process of making one, scaled down to the size of a jewelery box for my wife. I am also doing mine by hand. I believe sharpening your hand skills will even find its way into the realm of power tools.

-- Marc

View upriver's profile


22 posts in 2577 days

#3 posted 05-17-2011 03:36 AM

Beautiful chest. I would love to make sometime similar as I am moving towards hand tools myself.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3686 days

#4 posted 05-17-2011 03:45 AM

Very well made …any thoughts of building the companion base for your chest ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#5 posted 05-17-2011 03:45 AM

If your moving towards hand tools check out this new book…. The New Traditional Woodworker: From Tool Set to Skill Set to Mind Set by Jim Tolpin. Think you would like it.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3670 days

#6 posted 05-17-2011 04:10 AM

Beautiful chest!

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3717 days

#7 posted 05-17-2011 05:21 AM

Nice job. I, too, am looking forward to building something similar when I get done with my current project. Too many (is that really possible?!) tools and not enough room for them.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3113 days

#8 posted 05-17-2011 02:37 PM

nice toolbox :-)
yah those little buggers accumolate faster
than we think …. LOL

thank´s for sharing

View knotfree's profile


13 posts in 4277 days

#9 posted 05-25-2011 06:55 PM


Now hurry up and build four more, you will need them as the hand tool addiction sets in!


-- Pete

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#10 posted 05-25-2011 07:25 PM

That is a really nice tool box and it looks like it is serving it’s purpose well.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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