Living here in sunny FLA, we don’t have to worry about ice and snow. But, we do get the occasional tornado. And hurricanes are not unheard of. So, as my hand tool collection has grown over the years, it suddenly occurred to me that if I had to flee from impending natural disaster, it would take me a good hour to gather up my precious hand tools.
Now, not to downplay the importance of my power tools, but they are easier to replace than some of my vintage hand tools. So, after watching Chris Schwarz’s videos many times, and reading all the articles, and perusing the various chests made by fellow Lumber Jocks, I came up with a box that should not only hold my current and future tools collection, but it should be portable enough.
I chose a traditional English design, aka Anarchist’s Chest, rather than the Dutch box. Though the choice was certainly tough (all those dovetails!). The size precluded using a single width of surfaced lumber from Home Depot. Eleven and a half wide wasn’t enough. And, since we have a cypress saw mill locally, I decided to try our locally grown lumber. I purchased a stack of rough cut 4/4 by ten boards at the incredibly low price of $7 for a ten footer! Looking back, I should have added the 30% for select boards to eliminate many of the knots which vexed me a bit. But, the wood was stacked in my man cave in the air conditioning to sit and dry for a few weeks as they had been out in the yard without covering.
After three weeks, the boards were down to about 13% moisture content, which seemed satisfactory. I hand planed one side of a board flat, then jointed one edge. I finished it up in the surface planer and table saw. What I got was a very clean, smooth, board with not a bad grain pattern. So, in the following weeks I finished milling up the remaining boards. I chose the best boards for the chest sides, gluing up the front, back, and side panels. The rest ended up going to other projects.
Then, the fun began. I started cutting the first of 40 tails and pins for the joints.
Working a bit at a time over several weeks, I finally sawed and chopped out the dovetails. Most are a bit rough, gradually improving as I went along. Next was the dry assembly, to test the fit.
Everything fit well, so it was time for glue up. Lots of clamps and it went together smoothly, coming out nice and square. And, the cats loved it
Next, the bottom. I chose some clear 6” pine, and using my recently aquired tongue and groove planes, T&G’d the bottom boards for a nice fit to allow expansion. After trimming, I nailed them in place with 4d cut nails from Tremont Nail Company. They should hold tight, without the need for glue.
In progress are the molding strips along the bottom and top. The bottom will add strength and raise the box off the floor. The top strip will add strength and along with the lid will keep dust out. The pieces are dovetailed reverse from the box carcase, changing the direction of the strength of the joint. I plan to insert screws from the inside to make sure the trim is nice and tight.
More to follow…
-- "Necessity is the mother of invention"