Craftsman Tool Chest

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Project by Michael James posted 05-30-2011 11:10 PM 2621 views 16 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is from It’s made completely from oak left over from the bunk bed and some flooring I was given. The only thing I paid for was the 1/4” ply, pulls, poly, and drawer liners. I wanted to try the ebonizing process found on Fine Woodworking’s website so I thought this would be a good (fairly inexpensive) test to see how I liked it. Turns out – I do.

The finish is:
1. One coat of ebonizing liquid
2. Shellac
3. Ebony stain (Minwax)
4. High Gloss wipe on poly

It was fun to build so now I’m building the companion tool cart but it’s going to cost significantly more as I used up all my scrap!

Thanks for looking.

-- Michael James -

18 comments so far

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2204 days

#1 posted 05-30-2011 11:28 PM

niiice chest :-)
thankĀ“s for sharing and I look forward to see the cart too

take care

View lou's profile


340 posts in 2531 days

#2 posted 05-30-2011 11:59 PM

Looks great.At first I thought it was for the silverware.

View Ken90712's profile


16034 posts in 2277 days

#3 posted 05-31-2011 12:03 AM

Looks great nice work.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Gary's profile (online now)


8384 posts in 2521 days

#4 posted 05-31-2011 12:28 AM

I like that. Looks really good.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 2414 days

#5 posted 05-31-2011 12:36 AM

Neat-0. I am also wanting to try the ebonizing. This looks great.

View Roger's profile


17850 posts in 1893 days

#6 posted 05-31-2011 12:38 AM

very nice tool chest. the finish is awesome. that grain really pops nicely

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 2207 days

#7 posted 05-31-2011 12:38 AM

Sharp looking Tool Chest, fine craftsmanship, Thanks for the heads up on Ebonizing, Yet another useful tip here on the site

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

663 posts in 2356 days

#8 posted 05-31-2011 01:29 AM

what is the ebonizing liquid?

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

89 posts in 2137 days

#9 posted 05-31-2011 03:27 AM

Mike – the ebonizing liquid is made with a mason jar full of vinegar with steel wool put in. You leave it for a month or so and then paint it on. (don’t tighten the lid – it releases gas)

Now, I wish I could tell you that one month is all you need but this project took much longer than expected and I left my liquid sit for months (over the Canadian winter). I did take the steel wool out much sooner but it was way past one month.

That being said, the video on FWW says one month. With the rolling tool cart, I’m hoping that I can get the same results with less time with the concoction. I guess we’ll see. I’m sure you can double up the coats to get deeper change with the oak.

Just an FYI – this solution works with the tannins in the oak so I’m not sure of the results with other species.

-- Michael James -

View Dark_Lightning's profile


2337 posts in 2197 days

#10 posted 05-31-2011 03:32 AM

I’m curious- what color is the liquid you end up with when you put the iron in the vinegar? I’d venture to say the reaction time was longer due to the cooler temperatures ‘way up there in Canada.


View josh's profile


1039 posts in 1658 days

#11 posted 05-31-2011 06:15 AM

That is one nice tool chest.

-- Josh; Former Pennsylvanian, current Coloradan

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1076 posts in 2062 days

#12 posted 05-31-2011 06:30 AM

Man, that is really sweet looking

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

89 posts in 2137 days

#13 posted 05-31-2011 07:11 AM

AtomJack – I think it depends on how long you leave it. I left it so long that the rust and just pure “fermentation” made it a yellowish, greenish, black stuff…it doesn’t smell very good either…


-- Michael James -

View KMT's profile


595 posts in 1751 days

#14 posted 05-31-2011 07:18 AM

Very Nice. Love that finish.

-- - Martin

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

470 posts in 2340 days

#15 posted 05-31-2011 09:02 AM

Great job Michael, looks good. I sent you a BBM about the oak ply you were looking for, but no reply.
Ebonizing in this fashion works well with woods high in tannin. Oak, walnut, mahogany, to name a few. I have even ebonized maple! The process actually doesnt take more than a week, two at most. But thats assuming you use 0000 stell wool. \the finer the steel, the quicker it dissolves, pretty basic. It has nothing to do with climate or temp.
The thing to remember about ebonizing with steel wool and vinegar solution is that it acts like water, in that it will raise the grain, so either pre-raise it and sand it back a few times, or sand back the ebonization, and re-apply a few times. You can easily get it black enough that seal coats and follow up staining is unnecessary.
My only critique would be to try to line up the grain in the drawer fronts with the same pieces. Oak has such a prodominant grain that paying attention to it is a must. You can really avoid the plywood look that way.


-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

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