Tool Chest

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Project by CL810 posted 07-10-2013 04:59 PM 7823 views 44 times favorited 39 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had been wanting to build a portable tool chest for a long time but could not settle on a design until I saw Chris Schwarz’s Dutch tool chest. I was mulling it over, ok, I was procrastinating, when Brandon began a great blog that starts here . His blog was just the KITA I needed to get serious. I strongly recommend this blog to anyone remotely thinking about building a chest. The comments/discussions that accompany the blog are also very informative. Another great resource is Ryan’s Dream Toolbox thread that is currently active.

I settled on the height of the chest that would fit in my truck bed with the cover down. I based the carcass construction on the design of a blanket chest I had recently built. The dovetail joinery should last a long time. Yes, it was a lot of work cutting the DTs, but using them gives me confidence in the integrity of the chest.

From the beginning I wanted to create an aged look to the chest similar to one I had seen in Jim Tolpin’s book, The Toolbox Book. I certainly understand both sides of the stained vs. painted finish. I settled on the aged and distressed look so it was to be painted and have bare metal. I applied 4 colors of paint in this order: white, yellow/orange, red, and last brown. For the distressed look I sanded the paint in areas that would get “wear.”

I purchased the hinges from Lee Valley but they did not sell screws or handles that matched. I remembered that Chris Schwarz had written about stripping zinc from metal with citric acid. You can read about it here . The only comment I have about the process is that one should buy whatever you’re going to strip at the same time from the same manufacturer. Results vary by mfg, not only in how long it takes to strip the zinc, but in the appearance of the metal after stripping. Here’s a before and after pic.

I used poplar for the chest; cherry for the racks, tracks, box and till ends, and the till runners. I screwed the racks and tracks in so I could change things in the future. The saw till has a dovetail base. It is attached with two screws. The base was trimmed so that it fell just short of touching the bottom of the chest. When I tightened the screws in the base, it made for a very tight and stable fit for the till.

The inside of the chest, boxes and till are finished with shellac.

The first time I traveled with the chest I could hear the till slide back and forth. So I made these stops to secure the till. The left side’s stop is sitting on the runner for clarification.

The next step in my plan is to build a chest of drawers as a base for this chest.

Thanks for looking.

-- "It's amazing how much can go wrong when you think you know what you're doing."

39 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


12339 posts in 2916 days

#1 posted 07-10-2013 05:00 PM

Looks pretty cool. Will the chest of drawers be on rollers?

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

View DaddyZ's profile


2448 posts in 1859 days

#2 posted 07-10-2013 05:02 PM

Very Cool !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View WayneC's profile


12339 posts in 2916 days

#3 posted 07-10-2013 05:12 PM

Also, the stops are cool. I purchased an antique chest last week and had to take the tills out because they were sliding side to side. Probably will leave my chest as it is given it is 100 plus years old.

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

View Mosquito's profile


5572 posts in 1111 days

#4 posted 07-10-2013 05:20 PM

Very nice work. I like the poplar and cherry mix, and those half blinds look great

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist -

View a1Jim's profile


113062 posts in 2396 days

#5 posted 07-10-2013 05:56 PM

Looks great nice work

-- Custom furniture

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


15425 posts in 2494 days

#6 posted 07-10-2013 05:58 PM

Nice work, great design

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don W's profile

Don W

15918 posts in 1386 days

#7 posted 07-10-2013 06:01 PM

very nice. It looks tool worthy!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View HorizontalMike's profile


6970 posts in 1733 days

#8 posted 07-10-2013 06:15 PM

Good job on the distressing. I like it. Well done.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Mauricio's profile


6952 posts in 1970 days

#9 posted 07-10-2013 06:18 PM

Awesome work Clayton! It really came out great!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View RGtools's profile


3314 posts in 1473 days

#10 posted 07-10-2013 06:45 PM

The stop idea is very elegant. Well done on all fronts.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View LukieB's profile


960 posts in 1149 days

#11 posted 07-10-2013 06:45 PM

Andy this thing looks awesome, very nice work. Those dovetails look spectacular, makes me want to get back to working on mine…

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

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)


10839 posts in 1437 days

#12 posted 07-10-2013 06:50 PM

Very nice indeed, Andy. Congrats on a fine build, may she serve you well!

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

View dpow's profile


471 posts in 1663 days

#13 posted 07-10-2013 07:12 PM

Great looking tool chest – a project to be proud of. Thanks for sharing.

-- Doug

View Brit's profile


5456 posts in 1661 days

#14 posted 07-10-2013 07:14 PM

Very nice. It really looks the business.

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

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5099 posts in 1111 days

#15 posted 07-10-2013 07:15 PM

That is just super cool—great job!

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

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