Penguin Tool Chest

  • Advertise with us
Project by bobasaurus posted 797 days ago 4225 views 25 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished this penguin-themed tool chest after about 9 months working on it during evenings/weekends. It is a (belated) retirement gift for my father, who contributed by making the silver penguin knobs. The carcass is constructed from walnut, cottonwood, red oak (for the runners, not pictured) and some hidden MDF on the dividers. The drawers are soft spalted maple on the fronts/backs, and elm on the sides. I did a crushed turquoise + epoxy inlay in a knothole on the left side of the chest for some visual flair. There is a walnut penguin inlaid in the front cottonwood rail, using the wood whisperer’s free-hand router inlay technique.

Many dovetails adorn this piece, the majority of them hand-cut (some cheating with the bandsaw for the tails of the drawers). The carcass sides are through-dovetailed to the bottom, the rails are half-blind dovetail joined to the sides, the dividers are inserted using sliding dovetails (the only ones that were routed), and the drawers are half-blind dovetailed all around.

The top hinges open using shipwright-style box hinges . A routed chamfer on the front edge makes the lid easy to lift.

My father carved the wax shape of the penguin knobs, with help from my mother on the details of the feathers, wing, etc. He then had his jeweler friend cast the individual knobs, using Argentium Silver which can be kiln-baked to harden the metal and prevent tarnishing with a germanium oxide layer. We drilled out the backs and tapped them to accept 6-32 screws for the drawer face attachment.

I finished the chest with a few initial coats of a minwax tung oil + polyurethane mix to bring out the grain, then many coats of a satin wipe-on poly, finally waxing the drawer sides and runners with an orange oil / carnauba wax mix (really made the drawer movement smooth).

I learned a lot of new techniques working on this piece. There are many mistakes, most of which I was able to correct and will hopefully avoid in the future. Thanks for taking a look.

Larger photo set: (if imgur is down, here is the album on flickr: )

Blog detailing the construction:

Photo credit goes to my two friends and coworkers Will von Dauster and Patrick Cullis. Their photography skills put mine to shame.

-- Allen, Colorado

25 comments so far

View TomTinkerSum's profile


218 posts in 2462 days

#1 posted 797 days ago

Great tool chest. Thanks for sharing a lot of techniques and what you put into this project. Handles are an excellent touch. Nice job on face and making all the natural grain patterns POP!!


-- If a woodchuck could chuck wood, he's probably not a Lumberjock --

View bfergie's profile


83 posts in 943 days

#2 posted 797 days ago

That is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

-- Fergie in CO

View a1Jim's profile


112011 posts in 2204 days

#3 posted 797 days ago

Wow Bob this is a great tool box fantastic build and wonderful wood.

-- Custom furniture

View jcop30's profile


66 posts in 1957 days

#4 posted 797 days ago

love it nice work

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 1745 days

#5 posted 797 days ago

Super Chest, could pass as a Jewelry Box for sure, looks Great, nice added touches all over the place, Great Job, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View dustysawyer's profile


107 posts in 1255 days

#6 posted 797 days ago

Beautiful project. Thanks for including the detailed steps link for the shipwright hinges. I may incorporate them into an upcoming tea box project.

View GlennsGrandson's profile


432 posts in 936 days

#7 posted 797 days ago

This is amazing, very beautiful, fine work, great story on the pulls. This should make the top, of it doesn’t, it’s on mine for the day!

-- Grant - S/N Dakota

View Woodenwizard's profile


1068 posts in 1682 days

#8 posted 797 days ago

This is Crazy nice. Love the dovetails and the hinge. What an outstanding gift.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View ruddy's profile


396 posts in 1566 days

#9 posted 797 days ago

Outstanding design and workmanship. Always good to see a well made toolchest and this one is up with the best of them.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View JRL's profile


104 posts in 1165 days

#10 posted 797 days ago

One of a kind. Thanks for keeping high the LJs standard.

-- Jay in Changsha

View gfadvm's profile


10724 posts in 1317 days

#11 posted 797 days ago

I have followeed your project build from the beginning and it was worth the wait. What a treasure. I love everything about it from the hinge, to the inlay, the wood choices, and especially the cast penguin knobs! this is definately an heirloom. Great job.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View fernandoindia's profile


1072 posts in 1570 days

#12 posted 797 days ago

Hi Allen, great piece. A lot of work, a lot of details. The fact that you could share such special project with your dad makes it special treasure indeed.

-- Back home. Fernando

View mbs's profile


1435 posts in 1567 days

#13 posted 797 days ago

Beautiful Chest. Great choice of woods.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View BentheViking's profile


1752 posts in 1191 days

#14 posted 797 days ago

the turquoise makes for a very interesting effect

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View SergeantSawDust's profile


173 posts in 809 days

#15 posted 797 days ago

It’s absolutely beautiful, and I really like how it was constructed. Outstanding!

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase