Tommy Mac’s Toolbox

tool box

Heirloom toolbox. This good-looking chest is predicated on the one
Thomas MacDonald constructed as a North Bennet Avenue scholar.

Mix energy and hand instruments to enhance your joinery

by Thomas J. MacDonald
first revealed within the December 2012 difficulty of Fashionable
Woodworking Journal

Constructing a toolbox very similar to this one was an actual turning level
in my woodworking profession. It was 1999 and I had begun courses
at Boston’s North Bennet Avenue Faculty’s Cupboard and Furnishings
Making program. On the time, I used to be a fairly good carpenter and
may construct plywood cupboards utilizing energy instruments, however I used to be
fairly inexperienced when it got here to crafting fantastic furnishings.
Designing and constructing a toolbox was one among our first undertaking
assignments in school.

The expertise was for me far more than a undertaking; it was my
introduction at hand instruments and extra superior joinery. Years
later, I notice simply how a lot this undertaking influenced my
woodworking. Whereas constructing it, I used to be studying the concord of
utilizing each energy and hand instruments.

Now, it’s one among my favourite initiatives – and it’s featured in
season three of my PBS tv present, “Tough Lower –
Woodworking with Tommy Mac.”

For those who’re new to woodworking, or haven’t realized primary
hand-tool expertise, this undertaking may have an identical affect
on you. Don’t fear concerning the joints being an ideal match. It’s
a store undertaking in any case.

toolbox spring joint

Spring joint. A slight concave form planed onto mating
surfaces of an edge joint lets you clamp up with a
single clamp throughout the middle of the panel glue-up. Purpose for
a middle that’s recessed about 1⁄64″.

Mill Your Lumber in Levels
I put together inventory in a pair classes at the very least a day aside. This
is supposed to attenuate wooden motion whereas additionally permitting for it.
As a rule of thumb, keep away from taking greater than 1/Four″ of wooden off of
the thickness of a board in a single milling. I name the primary
session “tough mill” as a result of I lower the elements out of the tough
board leaving about 1″ over in size, 1⁄2″ over in width and
1⁄Eight″ over in thickness.

First, flatten one face on the jointer. Test the grain
path of the wooden and look ahead to tear-out. Take off about
1⁄16″ with every cross till the face is flat. Subsequent, straighten
one edge with the jointed face in opposition to the fence. Ensure the
fence is 90º to the mattress of the jointer.

When the jointer work is completed, transfer to the planer and make the
reverse face parallel (to keep away from tear-out, whichever finish
trailed over the jointer ought to lead over the planer). Run every
half by the planer with the jointed face down. Mill the
boards to the sizes within the cutlist plus the overage described

Stack the elements with stickers between and align them vertically
so every board is supported by the one under it. Depart the
boards in a single day then repeat the milling course of to deliver the
boards to ultimate dimensions. Notice that some elements, such because the
case divider fronts, should be fitted to the field reasonably than lower
to dimensions now. After the second milling, take away any mill
marks by skimming all surfaces with a handplane. Take mild
cuts to keep away from altering the thickness or taking it out of

toolbox dovetail layout

Pin spacing. To get dovetail pins spaced equally, stroll the
compass throughout the work and make changes till the
spacing is excellent.

Spring Joints for Glue-ups
The broader outdoors case elements needs to be glued up from narrower
boards; a full-width board could cup over time. Earlier than
edge-gluing, clamp every mating pair of boards head to head and
handplane the sides to “spring” the joint. Take a brief cross
alongside the center of the sides, then one other alongside extra of the
size and a ultimate cross alongside the total size. The boards’
jointed edges ought to contact at each ends with a tiny hole within the
center, about 1⁄64″.

Glue up the boards beginning with a single clamp within the center.
Add extra clamps if crucial. After the glue has dried, clear
up any extra and trim the elements to ultimate width and size.

By means of-dovetails
Begin by laying out the pins on the ends of the case aspect
boards. Set a marking gauge to the thickness of the case elements
and mark across the faces and edges at each ends of every board.
Then, lay out the pins on the ends of a aspect board. Begin by
measuring and marking Three⁄16″ from every edge. Then use a compass
or dividers to make seven equal divisions between the three⁄16″
marks you simply made (above). Begin on one line and stroll the
dividers alongside to the opposite line. After they land immediately on
the road, the house is evenly divided. The factors the place the
dividers hit are the middle factors of the pins. Switch the
divider marks to the surface face. Measure Three⁄16″ on both aspect
of the marks and, from that time, draw the dovetail angle
throughout the tip grain to the within face. Sq. the traces down
the within and out of doors faces to the marking-gauge line.

rabbet a case back router table

Cease that rabbet. Arrange stop-blocks in your router desk’s
fence to register the back and front as you mill the rabbets
within the again inside edges of the case sides.

Now you possibly can lower the pins. Fastidiously noticed on the waste aspect of
every pencil line, then use a coping noticed to chop out the majority of
the waste. Use a chisel to cut to the marking gauge line. Chop
midway in, then flip the board and are available in from the alternative
face to complete the waste removing. Test the surfaces with a
sq. and pare every cheek and shoulder till they’re true.

When the pins are completed, scribe the tails. Stand every finish of
the pin board on its corresponding tail board. Align the within
face of the pins with the marking gauge line on the within face
of the highest or backside board. Hint the pins utilizing a pointy

Sq. the tail traces throughout the ends of the boards then lower
fastidiously on the waste aspect of the entire traces. Noticed out the
bulk of the waste and chop to the marking-gauge traces. Frivolously
test-fit every nook and mark the place the joints are too tight to
shut. Use a chisel to pare the tails to suit. Don’t modify the

Dados & Rabbets

First lay out the dados for the case dividers on the within
faces of the edges. The highest one begins 23⁄Eight″ from the highest edge;
the second dado is Four-7⁄Eight″ from the highest; the third is Eight-1⁄Four″
from the highest. The dados are all 1⁄2″ large x 1⁄Eight″ deep and are
lower throughout your entire face.

toolbox dovetails

Prepared, set, assemble. When all of the case joinery, together with
dovetails, dados and rabbets, is accomplished, the toolbox is
prepared for glue-up.

To chop the dados mount a 1⁄2″ dado stack on the desk noticed to
lower 1⁄Eight″ deep. Ensure to chop the dados on the within faces.
Run the highest edge of every aspect in opposition to the fence on the entire
cuts. As soon as the entire dados are lower, use a router airplane to
clear up the dado bottoms.

Now lay out and lower the three⁄Eight″ x Three⁄Eight″ rabbets on the again inside
nook of the case sides, high and backside. The rabbets within the
high and backside run the total size of the sting. The rabbets on
the edges cease Three⁄Eight″ from every finish.

Lower the rabbets on the router desk. Set a straight bit to chop
Three⁄Eight″ from the tabletop and the fence. Run each the highest and
backside during. Now set as much as make the stopped
cuts. With the router off, mark the back and front edges of the
bit on the fence. Clamp back and front stops on the fence so
that the bit won’t lower previous both finish of the structure traces.

toolbox dovetail caul

Customized caul. To ensure the dovetail joints seat
fully, make a clamping caul that applies stress on
solely the tails.

To make the cuts, set the again nook of the aspect in opposition to the
rear cease and slowly transfer the piece towards the fence and into
the cutter. As soon as it’s in opposition to the fence, push the piece to the
entrance cease then slowly swing the again of the piece away from
the cutter.

Glue up the Case
Notch your clamping cauls across the pins in order that they press solely on
the tails. Glue and clamp the underside corners first. As soon as the
glue begins to set, take away the clamps and glue the highest corners,
checking for sq.. Now depart the clamps on till the glue has
totally cured.

Make the Case Dividers
Frames divide the case and act as drawer helps. The skin
corners of the frames are joined with bridle or slip joints.
The 2 higher dividers have a center rail with stub tenons.

Start by slicing the slots within the lengthy stiles. The slots are
1⁄Four″ thick x 13⁄Four″ lengthy, and undergo the total width of the
back and front body elements, centered within the thickness of the
elements. Put a 1⁄Four″- thick dado stack in your desk noticed set to
lower 1-Three⁄Four″ excessive. Lower the slots with the elements on finish utilizing a
backer board, equivalent to tenoning jig, to assist the piece. When
executed, lower grooves for the stub tenons in the back and front
items. With out transferring the fence, decrease the dado stack to 1⁄Four″
and lower grooves on the within edges of the highest two frames.

toolbox web fram

Body-up. The case is split utilizing frames with slip joints
on the ends and stub tenons the place wanted for a middle
divider. These frames assist the drawers and slot in dados.

Now lower and match the body tenons utilizing your dado stack and
desk noticed. Run the inventory flat on the noticed desk guided with the
miter gauge. The dado stack needs to be set to chop simply 1⁄Eight″
excessive. Lower the highest face of the tenons first, then match the joint
by trimming the underside face. For the highest two middle rails, lower
the tenons concurrently the remainder. After the entire
joints are match, trim the tenons on the middle runners to 1⁄Four″

With the body joinery full, glue up the frames and match
them to the case. Ensure the frames are sq.. If
crucial, clamp the slip joints closed so the joints don’t
flare out. As soon as the glue dries, flush the highest surfaces on the
joints with a handplane. Match the frames to the dados within the
case sides by planing the underside surfaces.

When the frames are executed, glue on the cherry divider faces.
Mill them simply thicker than the frames. Glue on the faces,
permitting extra size on every finish for the dovetails. As soon as
the glue dries, handplane them flush to the frames. Lay out the
size of the dovetails on the case sides. Now slide every body
into place and mark the dovetail size and the underside of the
dovetail dado on the face piece. When executed, lower every finish of the
cherry faces to size.

Drawer Divider Entrance

guide block sliding dovetails

Guided chisel. As an help to slicing the dovetails on the
divider fronts, use a shop-made “ramp block” to information the
chisel and assist obtain constant sizes and angles.

I exploit a “ramp block” that helps me make the dovetails for the
drawer divider entrance. To make it, mill a chunk of scrap to three⁄Four″
thick x Four″ large (and ensure it’s a scrap that lets you
work a secure distance from the blade). On the sting, mark 1⁄2″
from one face. Tilt the desk noticed blade to 10º and set the
fence simply over 5⁄Eight″ from the underside of the blade. With the
scrap on edge, rip the angle into the piece. Skim off any noticed
marks with a handplane.

Clamp the ramp block and divider as proven under. The block
needs to be perpendicular to the face piece and tight in opposition to its
finish. Chop down on the dado mark and take away chips till the
chisel rides flat on the ramp block. Repeat this on the highest and
backside of each ends of the entire dividers.

When executed, match the dividers to the case. Slide every divider in
place then use a pointy pencil to hint the dovetails onto the
entrance edges of the case. Take away the dividers, sq. the traces
down the within face and mark the three⁄Four″ depth of the sockets.
Noticed, chop and pare the sockets till the dividers match snugly.

sliding dovetail toolbox divider

Dovetail socket. The socket for the case dovetail is situated
on the finish of a shallow dado that homes the drawer divider.

Partition & Guides
Mark the size of the dovetails and dados on the case high and
second body. The tails are 5⁄16″ from the within edges of the
high and body. The dados are 1⁄Eight″ deep x 1⁄2″ large, and
centered within the case. Use a sq., knife and chisel to clear
out the three⁄Four″-long dados. Ensure the partition matches tightly
within the dados. If not, both widen the dados or handplane the
partition to suit. As soon as the partition matches, clamp the highest
divider to the second with the shoulders aligned on the ends,
and scribe the dado throughout the face of the highest divider. Lower the
1⁄2″-deep x Three⁄Four″-wide notch within the high divider and match it to
the partition.

Now lower the partitions to size. First, dry-fit the frames in
the case and measure the size of the partition. Dovetail the
ends utilizing the ramp block that you just used for the dividers. Mark
the 1⁄Four″ dovetail size on the ends of the partitions. Set in
the shoulders on the again and take away about 1⁄Eight″ of the again of
the tails. Use these notches to check the partition within the
dados. As soon as the shoulders match, lower the tails with the ramp
block as earlier than.

drawer dividers toolbox

Higher drawers divided. A vertical partition divides the case
for the 4 narrower higher drawers. It’s dovetailed like
the divider fronts on the ends, and it’s let into the center
of the highest drawer divider with a easy notch.

Match the partition to the case. With the dividers in place,
slide the partition into the dados and scribe the tails on the
case and second divider. Mark the 5⁄Eight″ depth of the tails as
nicely. Take away the partition and divider to chop and match the
sockets. When executed, glue within the dividers and partition. Begin
by sliding the dividers in virtually fully then apply glue to
the entrance 2″ and the dovetail. With the dividers in place, glue
within the partition. Glue the middle drawer runners on the highest two
dividers immediately behind the partition. Use a sq. to make
certain they’re flush to the width of the partition and sq. to
the entrance of the case.

Make the Drawers
On the within face of every drawer half lower a 1⁄Four″-wide x
Three⁄16″-deep groove 1⁄Four″ up from the underside edge. As soon as the
grooves are lower, rip the backs to width, slicing them flush to
the highest of the groove. Subsequent, dovetail the drawers. Lay out the
half pins on the drawer fronts. Set a marking gauge to 9⁄16″
and, from the within face, mark the tip grain on each ends of
every drawer entrance.

exploded drawing of toolbox
Use the identical
setting to mark across the entrance of the drawer sides. Reset the
marking gauge to the three⁄Eight″ thickness of the drawer sides and
mark the within face on each ends of every entrance. With the identical
setting, additionally mark across the again of every aspect and round each
ends of every drawer again. Lay out a 1⁄Four″ half pin on the highest
and backside of the drawer back and front. Additionally mark a Three⁄Eight″-wide
pin within the middle. Mark the dovetail angle on the tip grain and
sq. the traces down the within faces.
On the drawer fronts, noticed at an angle taking care to not lower
by both marking gauge line, then chop out the waste,
working all the way down to the lap line on the fronts. Pare the pins till
the cheeks are flat and perpendicular to the ends. Mark, lower
and match the tails simply as you probably did on the case.

Glue up the drawers ensuring they’re sq.. Clear off all
of the glue and flush the entire surfaces with a handplane.
Ensure the drawers sit flat on a flat floor. Take a look at the
drawer in its opening. Airplane the highest edges of the edges till
the drawers transfer simply of their pockets.

Glue the Drawer Stops
With the drawers match, align the drawer fronts flush with the
case and dividers. Apply a small quantity of glue to every cease.
Attain by the again of the case and place the stops on
the tops of the dividers. Ensure the cease is tight to the
again of the drawer entrance. As soon as the glue units, take a look at the drawer
and trim the cease if crucial.

Lower the bottoms to slot in the grooves. Set the desk noticed to sixº
with a zero-clearance insert and a featherboard in entrance of the
blade. Set the fence to only below 1⁄Four″ from the blade. Bevel
each side and the entrance of the underside. Regulate the fence till
the underside simply begins to slip into the drawer. Lower the entire
bottoms and fine-tune the match with a airplane. When the bottoms
match, trim them flush to the again of the drawer. Lower a 1⁄2″-long
x 1⁄Eight″-wide notch within the middle of the again edge of every drawer
backside. Insert a screw by the notch into the drawer again
to pinch and maintain the underside in place.

Shiplap the Again

front and side view drawings of toolbox
Rip the backboards
to Four″ large. On one edge of every lower a Three⁄16″-deep x Three⁄Eight″-wide
rabbet. On two of the boards, lower the identical rabbet on the
reverse face of the alternative edge. Match a single-rabbet board
on the underside of the case within the again rabbet and screw it alongside
the underside edge. Lay the double-rabbet boards in subsequent so the
rabbets overlap, leaving a 1⁄Eight″ reveal in every joint. Screw
these boards in on the ends, close to the place they overlap the board
under. Trim the unrabbeted finish of the ultimate board till it matches
in place with the identical 1⁄Eight″ reveal and screw it in place.

Sand & End
Ensure all of the glue has been cleaned off of the surfaces.
Deal with any tear-out, dents or gouges earlier than you begin to sand.
Then completely sand starting with #120-grit paper and
progress by finer grits stopping at #180 or #220 grit.
Then ease all of the sharp edges. Apply the end you favor
following  the producer’s directions. When it’s dry,
set up drawer pulls of your selection (mine are iron; Three⁄Four″ for
the highest drawers, 1-1⁄Eight″ for the underside drawers).

When your toolbox is accomplished you’ll have realized a lot of
the important woodworking expertise. And for those who’re like me, your
joinery tolerances may have tightened up rather a lot simply studying
the ins and outs of dovetailing. PWM

Tommy is the creator and star of the WGBH PBS tv
program “Rough
Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac.

Want a full-sized chest? Try the video “Make a
Conventional English Device Chest with Christopher Schwarz,”
accessible as
video download

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