Family Heirloom Tools Display Case

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Project by RS Woodworks posted 02-22-2012 03:12 AM 7142 views 10 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few days ago my father turned 65 yrs old. For his birthday, I built a display case to house the family tools, so that they may be preserved and proudly displayed for more generations to come. I met my parents this weekend in Banff, and presented it to my dad there. It was very well received. My Opa (grandfather) worked in a ship yard in Rotterdam 70 to 80 years ago. These were some of his tools, and some of these tools were likely his fathers and possibly grandfathers as well. More details of the tools with detailed pictures can be seen here.

The case is made of solid cherry, about 7/8” thick. I used a band of maple inlay in the glass frame, and wenge corner keys. I tried to pay hommage to the art of using hand tools as my grandfather, his father and their forefathers did. So I used hand tools as much as I could on this project. Not exclusively, but quite a bit. The dovetails are handcut and one of my first real attempts on a project. The parts were hand planed, hand scraped (including the profiles which were routered). The dimensions are 54” x 34” and 5 1/2” deep. The glass is 3 mm and held in place with a strip of cherry and picture frame tabs. The tools are all attached to the black melamine background with brass wire. And in addition, the planes sit on brass dowels epoxied into a hole in the back. I used a brass piano hinge and brass catches at the bottom. The case will very rarely be opened but I wanted that ability, plus the glass can easily be replaced if its ever broken.

Sorry for the low quality pics, my good camera is at work and this camera seems to be getting worse and worse! Thanks for looking and enjoy!

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

26 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2495 days

#1 posted 02-22-2012 03:24 AM

Very nicely done and excellent way to preserve your family’s history. Have you considered adding a written history so future generations will have the benefit of their family history? I really need to consider something like that for my great-grandfather’s tools (or, what’s left of them). Thanks for sharing and I know your dad is pleased and proud.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Brit's profile


7545 posts in 3046 days

#2 posted 02-22-2012 03:46 AM

Lovely tools and a very nicely built case. Thanks for sharing.

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

View The3Beers's profile


20 posts in 2766 days

#3 posted 02-22-2012 03:53 AM

very nice i may have to do some thing like that for my great-grandfathers shotgun

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 02-22-2012 04:02 AM

Great showcase for great tools. They all look in working order, did you use any of them in creating the case?

I agree with HillbillyShooter, you include a written history. Possibly in a matching frame?

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3347 days

#5 posted 02-22-2012 04:09 AM

Looks very nicely done to me!

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2509 days

#6 posted 02-22-2012 04:29 AM

Nice case, for some prized heirlooms, thanks for posting

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View Ranger97ab's profile


37 posts in 2518 days

#7 posted 02-22-2012 04:34 AM

Really awesome work Ryan ! really nice tools & it’s great to have your history there like that, for some people they don’t have anything like that. As for a lot of my stuff it grew legs & walked away. I just noticed that the bottom plane looks like the bird house I just built, a pic is on my page

-- I Live for Sawdust Flying ! Randy- Lacombe, Alberta

View a1Jim's profile


117340 posts in 3780 days

#8 posted 02-22-2012 05:50 AM

Cool display case and nice tools.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1059 posts in 2515 days

#9 posted 02-22-2012 12:32 PM

That’s a really nice way to preserve and display some very important tools. Some great details in the joints and slips. It must weigh a ton!

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Douwe's profile


62 posts in 2489 days

#10 posted 02-22-2012 12:36 PM

Nice case you made. A good way to store them till someone wants to use them again.
Maybe I can help you a bit with some history of your tools.
Zuurdeeg was a toolshop in Rotterdam. You can find some of its history at
On the left side of the page there is a possibility to change language.
The crowned J.N. is from a toolfactory in Friesland (part of the Netherlands) called Nooitgedagt, for years and years one of our best toolfactories. More information is available on

Douwe, the Netherlands

-- Douwe

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

533 posts in 3455 days

#11 posted 02-22-2012 12:46 PM

Thanks for the comments and suggestions guys. I really appreciate it. A write up about my family history as it relates to the use of these tools is a great idea. I think I will have to do that!

The tools are not in working order for the most part, they could be made to be, by sharpening the chisels and plane blades, But for preservation I would rather keep them as they are. They have served their duty and now it’s time for them to be displayed and admired. I told my dad not to take them out and use them, hopefully he listens. I would be quite upset if he decided to try to sharpen these.

Douwe, thanks VERY much for the great info. I really appreciate that! I had not been able to find that info on my own. My dad will appreciate that as well.


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

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3070 days

#12 posted 02-22-2012 01:45 PM

What a nice conversation piece and you did a wonderful job on that cabinet.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Helkat's profile


74 posts in 2499 days

#13 posted 02-22-2012 02:25 PM

Beautiful cabinet – that display would be awesome in anyone’s home as a great decoration. The fact that it has so much meaning for your family puts it over the top. What a great gift!

-- Nat, UPstate NY,

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 2533 days

#14 posted 02-22-2012 02:42 PM

It’s gorgeous, what a great way to preserve some family history.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3667 days

#15 posted 02-22-2012 03:14 PM

Cool case with some nice details.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

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