tool chest lid design

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Forum topic by Ben posted 10-15-2013 10:32 PM 2173 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ben's profile


387 posts in 3061 days

10-15-2013 10:32 PM

I’m working on a small tool chest and am about to begin construction on the lid.

I’d like to do something like this:

Where the top is a solid piece of wood with a dovetailed “apron” around it, so that I can nest my chisels under the lid. Would it be a bad idea to simply glue the top piece to the dovetailed apron so that the top can be smooth and seamless?

I could make it a floating panel but then the panel wouldn’t be flush with the top.


6 replies so far

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3495 days

#1 posted 10-16-2013 01:12 AM

Sure it would (or could) – you just have to make your groove the right distance down from the top edge (distance from top edge to lower side of groove = thickness of top panel).

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View TDog's profile


235 posts in 2434 days

#2 posted 10-16-2013 02:34 AM

That lid in your link you posted looks really nice and would be very practical for more tool storage space etc.
Here are some things that have given me ideas for more tool chest lids:
The above link is to a very talented unique professional woodworker, Tony Konovaloff. It shows his very versatile and thought out tool chest with a chest lid with an great storage idea, I’m sure its more time consuming but wow.
You may also want to check out The Toolbox Book by Jim Tolpin. If you don’t have a copy, its worth the investment if you really like studying tool storage and shop organization. It shows tons of options by professionals and is a well done book (also available in digital format) Here is a link to his website;

Have fun and enjoy, let me know if you have any other discussion and make sure to post your pictures of your tool box building process etc. so we can check it out. If you have already, my bad; send me the link.

-- "So many little time..." Psalm 23

View 489tad's profile


3472 posts in 3215 days

#3 posted 10-16-2013 03:32 AM

Ben you could make a floating panel fit flush to the top of the apron with a rabbited edge to fit into a dado inside the apron. Say a 1/2” thick panel, 1/4” rabbit. Dado 1/4” from the top of the apron. This way your not gluing cross grain. I hope this helps.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2141 days

#4 posted 10-16-2013 05:44 AM

cowtown_eric is NOT a fan of the hinged lid.

Why? it’s always gotta be the top of the pile and if you set anything on top of it, you gotta move it.

To my pea brained way of thinking, drawers, top to bottom, are better. If you need more tool space, you add on on top….and you will, no doubt. You can build upon it.

The Chisels will be just as happy in a drawer, and you can double the storage space by alternating directions…maybe flat chisels in one direction, gouges in another.

Something you cannot do in a vertical storage unit where the cutting edges are hidden.

Besides, with the vertical storage as shown in the pix, yougotta lift the chisels out one by one until you get the right size, but in a drawer, you see what you want at first glance.

Before you go whole hog and commit to the project, scope out the Gerstner website. They have lots of tool chests in QS white oak/cherry/other hardwoods. They have been busy builiding tool chests for precision mechanics of all types for a long long time. They got the methodology and requirements for tool storage as “dialed in” better than any other fool.

Tolpins books are OK, but I will confess to getting a chuckle or two out of some of the tool boxes he features in earkier tomes. Completely unworkable and ineffecient, but dang it, they look pretty.

I’m in the middle of the new book, and it just ain’t turning my crank yet. Jumps from 3/4/5 triangles, to Architectural orders/ to sectors. in a few pages. Didn’t see footnotes. I’ve read a lot of math/wwing stuff with substantially more “leadership” in evidence. Hodgson’s two volume tomes on the steel square spring to mind.

Regarding this thread…The single chest with the lift up top is not gonna suit the Woodworker who intends to develop or go down other slippery slopes. , A base unit (slap a piece-or two- of granite on the top-sink cut outs are a dime a dozen, but squaring them up will indeed cost a few bucks)) will do for a few years, then another intermediate unit on top of that, then perhaps another unit on top of that, And don’t get me wrong, I like old tool chests. Matter of fact I’m trying to wrap my head around a design that will allow me to stack up old-schol tool chests, pull the (heavy) suckers out, and lift the lid.

And BTW,,,,There are axioms in the world of tool storage ..

If you think the tool box you build will be big enuf, you will be wrong, only you won’t have to have to listen to yer wife say it!

If you build it big enuf to hold all yer tools, you won’t be able to lift it.

Lift up lids are a total kludge, you cannot set anything on top of them. without knowing you will have to move it later!

My opinion is to chose a design that will allow you to grow, not one that will limit you. Just my two bits.

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3306 days

#5 posted 10-16-2013 06:51 AM

Man, if I had a dollar for every time I had to pick something up off the floor that slid off the back of my tool chest because I tried to open the lid without moving the crap I set on top. I’d have a lot of $.

Eric does have a point…...................

-- mike...............

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30068 posts in 2542 days

#6 posted 10-16-2013 09:56 AM

I think your idea will work. I too tend to stack on top of the box. Easy solution, don’t do it.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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