12 Rules for Tool Chests

Beneath are Christopher Schwarz’s “12 Guidelines for Software Chests” in
quick type (the total article, because it appeared within the December
2011 challenge of In style Woodworking Journal, is
downloadable on the finish.) The chest pictured right here is his
full-size conventional English device chest, however the guidelines apply
regardless of the chest. (You’ll discover instruction on constructing an
English device chest on Chris’ video “Make
a Traditional English Tool Chest
” (In style Woodworking) and
in his e book “The
Anarchist’s Tool Chest
” (Misplaced Artwork Press).

Rule No. 1: As Lengthy as Your Software Plus Some

The sizes of woodworking device chests are pretty normal –
between 35″ and 43″. This vary permits the chest to carry
full-size handsaws, which have a 26″ blade, plus one other 5″ of
wood tote. Ripsaws can have an excellent longer blade, as much as 30″.
Plus it is advisable to get your hand in there to seize the tote of
your longest noticed. Along with lengthy saws, the chest must
maintain a jointer aircraft. Whereas metallic planes prime out at about 24″
lengthy, wooden-bodied planes may be as a lot as 30″ lengthy.

Rule No. 2: Tall Sufficient to Make a Human Tripod

english tool chest
Quick device chests
are tough to make use of. They’re about 14″ to 16″ excessive, and when
you set them on the ground, it’s painful to bend over to fetch
a device. So you set them on prime of your workbench or desk noticed.
Now the toolbox is taking over priceless house.

Conventional toolboxes are often about 22″ to 27″ excessive. These
heights are perfect for the human type. The rim of the device chest
is under the pivot level of your waist. So that you bend over and
place your off-hand on the rim of the chest to stabilize
your self as you utilize your dominant hand to shift trays round.
Your off-hand turns into the third leg of a human tripod.

Rule No. Three: A Depth to Match Your Attain

The depth of the chest is often about the identical dimension as
its top. This is sensible for lots of causes. For one, it
appears good. A sq. profile is a satisfying type. However it additionally
makes sensible sense. A shallow device chest wouldn’t be as
secure, particularly with its lid open. A deeper chest can be a
ache to make use of. Think about a 36″-deep chest. Your arms would have a
heck of a time fetching instruments within the again.

Rule No. four: Scale back the Weight; Improve the

One of many guiding ideas of chest development is to make
the chest each light-weight, to make it simpler to maneuver, and
robust, as a result of the chest may take a beating on a voyage.

Light-weight woods aren’t usually as robust as heavy woods. So
right here’s what you do: Use a light-weight wooden equivalent to pine. However
be part of the corners utilizing a bombproof joint: through-dovetails.
Use this light-weight wooden with dovetails for each part of
the chest, apart from the elements that endure friction. Delicate and
light-weight woods are simply worn away in the event that they rub consistently
in opposition to different elements.

Rule No. 5: Make a Thick Shell

Let’s discuss in regards to the 4 partitions of the chest. That’s the place
materials choice and development begins. Outdated woodworking
books are particular in regards to the materials for the shell: the
clearest pine potential, freed from knots and sapwood.

Most device chests have shells produced from pine that’s between
7⁄eight″ and 1″ thick. Early furnishings was extra prone to have
thicker structural parts, so a Three⁄four″-thick shell can be

So why not make the shell out of 1-1⁄2″ materials? You may,
however dovetailing these corners can be a serious ache as a result of
your materials is so thick – you’d most likely have to make use of a tenon
noticed to chop the dovetails. And I don’t assume the extra-thick
materials would add significant energy. Chests produced from 7⁄eight″
materials rise up simply high-quality for a pair hundred years.

Rule No. 6: The Backside Ought to Be Nailed. However

tool chest bottom
So in any case this
speak about dovetails, it may appear odd that I like to recommend
tonguing and grooving the chest’s backside boards and nailing
them on. Why not put in a strong backside that’s captured in a

A single solid-panel backside will transfer lots in comparison with 5 or
six particular person backside boards, which can share the seasonal
growth and contraction. So if you happen to use a solid-panel backside
you could depart a large hole for the panel to swell and shrink
within the groove within the shell, which isn’t ideally suited. You need
the whole lot to be as tight as potential.

There are different good causes to make use of particular person boards secured
by nails. If the underside will get broken, changing one cracked
board is simpler than changing a whole panel, regardless of how
the underside is connected. And changing one nailed-on board is
simpler than changing a board secured in a groove.

Rule No. 7: Skirts, Mud Seals & Miters

The chest’s skirt and mud seal are practically as susceptible to wreck
because the chest’s backside. They’re the primary line of protection when
the chest is slid onto a truck or rammed by equipment.

The skirt and mud seal (the skirt close to the highest rim of the
shell) must be bulletproof. Easy miters won’t do.

Dovetail the corners of your skirt and mud seal. Sure, it’s a
ache to suit the whole lot across the shell. However a dovetailed skirt
and seal will final ceaselessly. Their corners won’t ever open. So
the outside of your chest will look as sturdy in 100 years as
the day you constructed it.

Rule No. eight: Don’t Blow it on the Lid

There are a number of methods to make a lid. Some work nice. Some are

The very best answer is to construct the lid as a frame-and-panel
meeting. This confines nearly all of the wooden motion to the
panel, which floats harmlessly in the course of the rails and

Rule No. 9: Divide the Backside Layer

tool chest floor
American device
chests are inclined to have two issues on the underside layer of the device
chest: planes and saws. Some English chests put the saws in a
until affixed to the underside of the chest’s lid, some didn’t.
Some American chests would put a noticed or two on the lid at
instances, however principally the saws went in a rack close to the entrance of the

The again of the chest is an effective place for moulding planes and
rabbet planes. Set them on their toes with the wedges dealing with
the within of the chest. A dividing wall underneath the wedges will
maintain the planes upright. The great factor is that the majority moulding
planes are the identical size and width. Storing the planes
upright in your chest is right. This lets you see their
profiles and sizes.

This a part of the chest will take up solely a small a part of the
backside space – about Three-1⁄2″ of house plus the thickness of the
wall. So there’s plenty of house left.

Rule No. 10: Trays

The only and greatest solution to divide the higher part is to
construct trays that slide ahead and again. Two or three trays are
typical. Chests which have trays that slide left and proper are
on the market, although they’re uncommon. Why? Most likely as a result of it makes
it tough to fetch the lengthy instruments under.

The trays slide ahead and again on runners which can be nailed and
glued to the perimeters of the chest. These runners are like shallow
steps up the facet of the chest so that every tray may be pulled
out of the chest ought to it is advisable to restore it.

Rule No. 11: Sticking Stuff to the Lid &

Don’t neglect that the entrance wall and the lid are good locations to
retailer flat stuff. On the lid, some folks put a framing sq.
or a number of squares. I’ve seen a number of handsaws and backsaws hanging
on the lid, too. On the entrance wall of the device chest you’ll be able to
grasp attempt squares and joinery saws – that is the standard
strategy. I merely relaxation my dovetail and carcase saws in opposition to
the wall.

Rule No. 12: Paint the Outdoors

That is the simple
half. The skin of a device chest must be painted. The trendy
selection is to make use of milk paint, which is sturdy and appears higher
because it ages. We don’t have lead-based paints out there, which
had been the paints of selection within the pre-Industrial world.

On the within of the chest, I like to recommend skipping a end. If
you could end the within, use shellac, which can treatment
rapidly and gained’t depart a nasty oily odor like linseed oil

Obtain the total article under:


— Megan

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: