Part 7: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Spacer and drawers

The last few items to deck out the tool chest are optional. And fortunately, they aren’t nearly as difficult to position and dimension.

Top-section Fixture: pencil holder/spacer
The plane divider lattice for the jointer includes a large gap in front of it. So to fill this space, and to keep the plane from sliding back and forth like a dinner bowl in the galley of a ship in high seas, I made a spacer. But rather than simply cutting a piece of ½” thick stock for it, and wasting the space, I decided to make a holder for pens, tweezers brushes and such.


I used left over ½” poplar stock put together with butt joints, screws and glue.

Middle-section drawers
There’s just too much stuff to pitch into the chest with any hope of it being even a smidgeon organized. So I decided to add three drawers.


I used poplar for the sides except for the ends of the small drawer on the lower left. For that I used some reclaimed oak for the front and back. All the boxes are joined with dovetails and have a plywood bottom. Each is 10 ½” deep so as not to interfere with the fall front locks nor battens. The finger holes are 7/8” in diameter and allow me to retrieve each drawer without relying on hardware that would get in the way.

The top drawer is for auger bits, drill bits, my brace and a few other sundry items. It measures 25 3/8” wide x 10 ½” deep 2 ½” high. For drawer slides, I used two ¾” x ¾” hardwood pieces 10 1/8” long. They need to be that short so as not to interfere with the fall front catches.


The top drawer includes an auger bit holder accessory.


Coming up with spacing and dimensions was very time consuming. So to give you a time-saving starting place, here are the plans I settled on.


It allows for compact storage while giving me sufficient space between bits for my fingers to grasp and retrieve each one.

The bit storage holder measures 12 7/8” wide x 6 ½” deep x ¼” thick. After laying out a centerline, I cut 3/8 holes at each spacing interval. Then I ripped the piece in half to get mirrored pieces. I ended up putting in my prototype. It uses butt joints reinforced with glue and screws. When I go back to create a permanent one, I’ll join the pieces with tiny dovetails.

The lower-left drawer is intended to house layout tools. So when I need to lay out a project I can remove only it. It measures 5 ¾” wide x 10 ½” deep by 2 ½” high.


The lower-middle drawer is for other items like hammers, files and such. It measures 14 1/8” wide x 10 ½” deep x 2 ½” high.


I left the configuration of the lower bottom section open to accommodate the rest of the tools I’ll need on the road.


I may add dividers at some point to separate joinery planes, but I want to use the chest for a while to see if this is even necessary. Florida, here we come!


I hope that my Dutch tool chest series helps you slash the time it takes you to finish yours. I also hope that you’ve gotten some good ideas about how you want to configure it.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just the way that works for you. So with that in mind, I invite you to share pictures of how you decked out your own Dutch tool chest.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 6: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Tool rack

For those of you who enjoy making lots of mistakes and finding out after hours of work that your tool placement won’t work, I highly recommend that you dive right in to making your rack and don’t bother with a prototype.

I don’t enjoy that process, so I very much bothered with a prototype. This allowed me to firm up a number of dimensions while simultaneously avoiding nasty mistakes.

I began by laying out all the tools I wanted to put in the rack onto my workbench. Then, starting from the left, I began to lay out holes for the tools in the order listed below. I hate retrieving tools from cramped spaces, so I determined that I wanted ½” of space on each side of every tool/handle. There wasn’t enough room to house all the tools I originally intended, so I culled the least used among them.

Chisel holes: The recommended ½” holes were too small to comfortably (for me) secure my Woodriver bench chisels. I found that I preferred 5/8” holes. Four of my chisels are wider than the 5/8” holes, so the prototype allowed me to work out the “wing” slots to accommodate them.


Awl hole: For the awl, I drilled a hole just large enough to accommodate the shaft, and countersunk a 3/8” deep hole to fit the ferule. Once docked, it stays snug and secure.


Wheel cutting gauge hole: The prototype caught what would have been a big mistake. My wheel gauge is too wide to fully seat into the suggested 1” wide rack. To overcome this issue I did two things. I increased the width of the tool rack and I drilled the hole for the gauge forward of the center line. See the picture above.

All-in-one-screwdriver-hole: I saved precious rack space for other tools by choosing to install one of those ratchet, all-in-one screwdrivers with interchangeable heads. The shaft is ½” in diameter so the driver fits perfectly and snugly into the ½” hole I drilled for it.


Marking knife hole: At the drill press, I cut a series of 1/8” wide holes to create the slot for my shop-made marking knife. I cleaned up the slot with a chisel and drilled a countersink hole ½” wide by ½” deep to snugly retain the knife.


Bevel gauge and combination square slots: I used the same process described above to create slots for these tools.


Installing the rack
To avoid all manner of frustration and forgo teaching the neighbor kids some choice words, I suggest that you use “scaffolding” to determine the placement of your rack. Simply cut two pieces of pine scrap to an estimated length, position them vertically to the rear of your upper compartment and place your tool rack on top of them.


Then load up your panel saws and tool-rack tools and see if you can close the lid. Rinse and repeat until everything fits and closes properly.

Now, before you drill any holes, ADD your backsaw till, load your saws and tool rack and position the till so that it’s not bumping into anything.

P24-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Checking-Rack-and-Till-for-fit P26-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Tool-Rack-Wheel-Gauge-Saw-Till

Once you’re satisfied with everything, THEN drill holes to screw your rack and till into place.


For the rack, I placed one screw in each end and one in the back. I used screws to secure the backsaw till by drilling and countersinking holes through the jack/smoother divider slat.

With that done, it was time to add some drawers. And that is the subject of my next post.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 3: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Lid panel saw fixtures

I created two fixtures similar to Christopher Schwarz in order to dock two panel saws (rip and XC) to the inside lid surface. After trial and error, I came up with these fixture dimensions:


The rip saw’s handle faces to the left while the XC saw’s handle is located to the right-hand side of the lid. When the lid is open, the teeth face upward. Since each saw is wider toward the handle than the toe, the groove to house this portion of them is longer. I laid the saws one over another and determined a rough placement of the fixtures.


This helped me to then measure the width of the corresponding fixture groove, from the saw spine to the tip of the teeth. With this done, I laid out the fixtures…


…and cut the stopped grooves at the router table.


The longer grooves barely had 1/8” between them and the ends of the fixture. So to keep them from breaking, I reinforced them with plywood pieces to prevent breakage. I subsequently revised the fixture dimensions you see posted above.

Note the “Base Line” in the above photograph. The spines of both saws will rest in the same plane with the lid open.

Next, I cut the long notch at each fixture end, then drilled a hole (about 5/8” in from the end) and countersunk it to accommodate the mounting screws.

The 4” placement of the fixtures from the front edge of the top of the lid allowed enough clearance between the fixtures/saws and fully-loaded tool rack for the lid to properly close.

With the lid done, I turned my attention to completing the fixtures for the top section of the chest. And that’s the subject of the next post.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 4: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Plane dividers lattice

Fixtures really make this chest an excellent storage space. And since I intend to travel with my chest, I want it to travel well. By “well” I mean that I don’t want tools to be damaged in transit. As is, the virgin top space doesn’t meet that standard.

P01-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Virgin top section

So to ensure that things stay put during the rigors of a “Florida or Bust” road trip I created a number of fixtures.

Top-section Fixture: plane dividers lattice
One of the reasons that my fixture layout worked out so well was because I started with the ones that “fixed” the dimensions of the others. That meant installing the plane lattice dividers first to house the jointer, jack and smoother.

Now, keeping in mind that I often change up my peg-board tool storage layout, I wanted to give myself the flexibility to do that in my chest. So I chose to install free-standing lattice dividers. No glue or screws.

The divider lattice consists of five parts:


(2) runners: poplar-1/2” x 1 ½”
(2) divider slats: poplar-1/4” x 1 ½”
(1) jack/smoother divider: poplar-1/2” x 1 ½”

The lattice joinery is simple. The lateral divider slats have tabs at each end which seat in slots cut into the vertical runners.


I started by cutting the lattice side runners a bit long and then dialed in a snug fit using a shooting board. After that, I sized the slats to create the divided storage areas.

To determine the position of the jointer slat, I measured from the backside of the front, added 3/16” (to allow for the ¼’ thick fall front locks, plus 1/16” clearance from them), added the width of my woodie jointer, plus 1/16” clearance on the back side.


That gave me the inside dimensions of the jointer storage area.

I marked this on the lattice side runners and routed notches for the jointer slat. The notch depth is ½ the width of the runner and the notch width is equal to the width of the slat. With the notches cut, I sawed the jointer slat to length, tweaked it for a snug fit, and routed a “tab” onto each end to fit into the runner notches. The tab depth equals the depth of the notch and the tab length equals the thickness of the side runner.

The next area houses both the jack and the smoother. To complete the lattice for these I repeated the process. The only difference was the addition of a dado in both the jointer and jack slats to accept a ½” thick divider between the jack and smoother.

The completed lattice looks like this.



After the shellac dried, I installed the lattice and turned my attention to the backsaw till. And that is the subject of my next post.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 2: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-Finishing details

Spicing up your build
The chest is pretty plain Jane as far as designs go. To spice it up, I used a few techniques that others around the Net have turned to.

Bead details break up monolithic panels. To make the fall-front door stand out, I used my 3/8” side-bead plane to put a bead on the panels adjacent to it.


The chest’s back panel also got the beading treatment. It consists of three panels joined via tongue and groove joints. The bead detail helps disguise uneven edge joints.


To break up the boredom of the as-is lid, I did a couple of things. First, I used breadboard ends. In addition to visual interest, this added strength to the lid, obviating the need for battens to keep it flat. I hope. Second, I used a round-over bit set to also add 1/8” deep rabbet along three edges. I really like how this came out.


Finally, I made my own handles. For these, I mimicked the pattern that Schwarz did on his large chest.


I didn’t do this because I worship the guy, or want to be just like him. But rather, I recognize that he’s a woodworking master and I believe that I can learn a hell of a lot by modeling his practices and design elements. And that’s in fact the case here. It was a fun intellectual challenge to reverse-engineer his design. I particularly like the small rabbet along the edges of the handles. That adds a lot of visual interest to them in my opinion.

P16-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Handle-closeup P17-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Handle-installed

Once loaded, the chest will weight over 100 pounds. So I used some 4/4 hard maple I had lying around along with ¾” oak dowels for the handle portion.

After measuring my hand, determining desired clearances from the side of the chest and tweaking for what “looked right” I came up with these handle dimensions. 1” thick x 4” long x 2 ½” high. I allowed ½” of “space” minimum all around each dowel to prevent the dowel from tearing out. I drilled a stopped hole ½” deep by ¾” wide to accept the ends of the dowel. The dowel handle is 5 ¼” long.

I chose to use bolts to affix the handle assemblies fearing that screws would eventually tear out. I centered the handle assemblies, marked them and drilled holes. Then I countersunk the inside holes to accept the washer/lockwasher/nut assemblies. After snugging them down they hold firmly.

To make the chest very mobile I added 3” casters. For those of you that prefer to do things the easy way, I suggest that you do what I did and drill and countersink the caster mounting holes in the bottom before gluing it to the sides.

Now, had I attached the casters directly to the bottom, the caster bolt ends would have protruded above the bottom shelf and scratched every tool housed there. To prevent this, I used the bottom skids as the “base” for the casters, and selected some oak stock for strength. That put the caster bolts shy of the top of the bottom shelf. That required me to countersink the bottom shelf sufficiently deep to accept, and tighten, the washers and nuts.

Keep in mind that the open lid moves the chest’s center of gravity toward the back. And by affixing my panel saws on the inside of the lid, I moved the cg back even further. Be sure to take this into account when laying out the holes for your casters. You’ll want to space them as close to the edges, and as far apart from each other, as you’re able.

I shellacked the interior to help keep my tools ship-shape once I arrive in a humid climate like the Sunshine State—that’s Florida, not South Dakota. Finishing the interior also fit my preference for clean storage. Otherwise it would have accumulated dirt and grime over time.

One pint of General Finishes Klein Blue milk paint from Woodcraft was plenty to give the exterior two full coats. Some people put a coat of BLO or poly over that because they don’t like the flat look of the paint. I, however do like the flat look so I didn’t bother with a clear coat.

Now that you’ve seasoned your build with some interesting eye candy, it’s time to deck out the interior to house your precious tools.

In my remaining posts in this series, I’ll give you all the details I didn’t have when I finished my chest. Those, plus oodles of pictures and diagrams should make it easy, peasy for you to finish your chest.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Part 1: Filling the guts of your Dutch Tool Chest-What I wish I knew before my build

Chris Schwarz’ plans for building a Dutch tool chest in Popular Woodworking Magazine are pretty straight forward. It’s an easy build. I would have loved more detail on making the lid. And if by “more” you take that to mean “any”, then you’re correct. The drawings for the large tool chest also fail to show the notches you’ll need to cut into the middle shelf to accommodate the battens on the fall-front door. Other than that, the plans did their job.

P01-Dutch-Tool-Chest-Virgin top section

That is, until I got to configuring the interior. Completing this part of the project easily took longer than the build itself. Yes, you can fit a lot of tools into the chest. But you need to pay careful attention to how you pack them in. Particularly in the top portion. The tolerance for error is very small. If you’re off by ¾” here or there, then the lid won’t close, or the fall front won’t seat and so forth. And fixing those errors doesn’t just burn time, it leaves surfaces pockmarked with filled holes.

The following installments will give you rich detail about how I configured my chest. They include all the tips, tricks and fixture ideas that I wish I had had when I was working on my chest. I hope my content helps you achieve three goals:

1. Dramatically cut the time it takes you to complete your chest
2. Avoid unsightly errors and
3. Give you some ideas about how you may wish to set up your own toolchest

The fixtures I built resulted in a chest that includes efficient storage for two panel saws, a whole gaggle of chisels, a marking gauge, a marking knife, a combination square; four bench planes (try/jointer; jack; smoother; block); joinery planes (skew rabbet; router; grooving); boring tools (brace & bits) some files and a bunch of other stuff.

But why bother?
“Honey, I got the contract for the Florida job,” said my lady. Nice! Boca Raton and Del Rey are some upscale areas in the state. So we (Gail, me and Bella, our black lab) had visions—yes, the dog had visions, she loves water—of temporarily moving there for the duration of the contract.

Well, if Gail was going to have her dog there, I by gum was going to have my woodworking. So I needed a chest.

What I like most about Schwarz’ Dutch tool chest design is its mobility and ample storage. I figured that I could indeed equip it with a complement of tools sufficient to build things. And I could do it with tool duplicates too! You see, you really do need that second, or third jack plane after all.

For you woodworking newbies out there, this is a fantastic early project to build. It will not only teach you a lot, but you’ll have a nice, compact space to store your hand tools when you’re finished.

That’s the “why” of the Dutch tool chest. Next time, I’ll talk about spicing up your build with some bead and round-over details.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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REVIEW of a Stanley No 60 Miter Box

I see many reviews of contemporary tools by modern manufacturers. However, given that many woodworkers purchase vintage tools for their own use, I thought it would be valuable to write a review about one of them.

My goal here is to answer the question, “Is a Stanley #60 miterbox worth buying?”

Spoiler alert. Answer. Yes, it is.

My sample came from an estate sale. It was so minty that I couldn’t resist handing over $15.00 to take it home.

P2-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Full shot with saw P3-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Full shot without saw P5-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Detail shot-model plate P8-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Detail shot-box bottom

Based on the crappy saw handle, I would guess that this model was manufactured in the 1970s. At first blush, the saw guide posts look flimsy compared to vintage boxes.

P11-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Saw-guide-Saw-Retention-clip

However, after cinching down the screws, they hold the saw firmly with little play to either side.

You can get a manual for the No. 60 here. It details a number of features.

The Stanley No. 60 Miterbox’ Features With Amaze and Astound You

Saw-guide catches
The catches located at the top of each post work well to keep the saw secure while stock is placed on the bed below.

P10-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Saw-guide-catch

One user-friendly feature is that when you release the front catch by hand, the back-side catch releases automatically by angling the saw downward—thus allowing a one-handed release. Compare that to the usual, but awkward method of holding the top front of the saw while releasing the back catch on other models.

Stock-retention “spurs”
One feature I’ve never seen before are the “spur screws” for keeping stock in place while sawing.

P12-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Stock-Retention-Spur

They are like set screws but have a sharp pointed end that the stock seats against. It works surprising well at preventing lateral movement and makes me wonder why more models don’t have this feature. Other than marring the edge with a small puncture mark they apply a lot of holding power for such small hardware. That’s an ingenious solution in my book.

Easy-peezy adjustable depth stops
Another feature I like is the adjustable depth stops. Rather than clips with serrated sides affixed by a screw, they are circular hardware that resemble bearing casings.

P6-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Detail shot-degree adjustment

I’ve never gotten the knack of adjusting the serrated stops, they’re just too finicky for me. The #60’s bearing stops, by contrast, are easy to set. There are two per post, one atop the other. You set the lower stops so that the saw completes the cut no more than 1/16” into the sacrificial board. For cuts of a specific depth, simply adjust the upper stops.

Panel saws welcome
Another interesting feature is the ability to use a panel saw with this model. There’s a hole to place a nail in to prevent the saw from riding up into the saw guides and damaging the teeth.

P18-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Panel-Saw

Decent-quality saw comes standard
The miterbox came with a 24” x 4” “Warranted Superior” saw. It sports a nice Stanley etching reminiscent of the “Made Expressly for” Disston saws of yesteryear.

P7-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Detail shot-saw plate etching

The quality is “decent” compared to the mitersaws of the early 20th century, and downright “fantastic” compared to what you can buy today.

Still, I have two beefs with the saw. For one, the hardware is made of nickle, or possibly even aluminum-gasp! Secondly, the stock handle is clunky and uncomfortable.

P9-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Detail shot-saw handle

So I made a new handle out of walnut.

P13-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Saw-Handle-Old-and-New-A

And now it fits comfortably in my hand.

P14-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Saw-Handle-Old-and-New-B

Configuring for use
The saw I use with my Goodell Manufacturing Co miterbox is sharpened at 30 degrees rake and 25 degrees fleam. And boy does it make beautiful cuts, leaving a smooth surface. But it cuts relatively slowly. So to give myself a fast-cutting option, I sharpened the #60’s saw with 15 degrees rake and 20 degrees fleam.

P15-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Saw-Sharpened-15degRake-20degFleam

That setup suits my taste, cutting fast while leaving OK-smooth surfaces that can easily be cleaned up on the shooting board.

And that brings us to THE most important feature of the #60 miterbox. And the reason why I would recommend that you consider buying it.

Dead-on 90- and 45-degree cuts
I was pleasantly surprised with how well this puppy performs. The sawing action is smooth and comfortable. Most importantly, however, is the fact that it produces cuts that are flawlessly accurate.

P16-Stanley No 60 Mitre Box-Dead-on-accurate-cuts

The Stanley #60 miterbox and saw deliver accurate cuts along with a lot of user-friendly features. It performs as well as my Millers Falls #1124, my Goodell Manufacturing, All-Steel Miterbox and my Millers Falls #74C 5-inch monster of a miterbox. It’s lighter than the 74C and because it’s a later model, I wouldn’t mind traveling with it. No worries about losing or breaking a classic with this one.

While the saw’s steel is of good quality, the handle is of poor quality and demands replacement. Creating a new one to fit my hand made a significant improvement in the feel of the saw.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

Posted in Backsaws, miterbox review, Stanley # 60 miterbox, vintage tools | 4 Comments