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

Rusthunting and snowstorms and wood-oh my

The garage sale season has started anew and I have a few nice finds to show for it. Saturday’s first stop was an estate sale advertising woodworking tools. But only a vegetarian cookbook for a buck was worth bringing home.

Still bleary-eyed from getting up at 6:30 on a weekend, I activated Plan B. That meant driving 40 minutes to an out-of-the-way locale to pick over “the estate of a woodworker.” Apparently, this was the second weekend of the sale. “You should have been here a week ago because the power tools are all gone,” said the gray-bearded man running the sale. I could use a bandsaw, but there’s no hurry. When the fates are ready to provide, one will appear.

The handtool pickings were slim too, but I did find this 19th century Harvey Peace saw buried beneath a gaggle of late-model saws.


The real treasure however, and what motivated me to drive into a blowing snowstorm, was the wood. Out of an amazing variety of timber, I culled out 36 board feet of walnut, pecan, birdseye maple, oak, cherry, willow and what looks like butternut.


Even ended picking up some walnut burl and maple burl veneer.


That will come in handy for the chessboard on my project list.

I paid $55 for the lot—saw, lumber and veneer. It works out to about $1.55/bf. Or about 18% of what I calculated would be retail.

With my wood stores replenished, I’ve already started to use it. Among the boards was this really nice cut-off piece of crotch walnut.


It is now this mitersaw handle. That kind of grain makes o-dark-thirty Saturday mornings worth the effort.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.


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Making a New Handle for late-model Millers Falls No. 1124 Miter box Saw

I like my Millers Falls No. 1124 miter box. It came with the latest-model Disston saw, made around the time Eisenhower was president (1953-1955.) And while the saw isn’t considered great quality compared to earlier vintages of the same model, it certainly is fantastic quality compared to what’s on store shelves today. It also has the huge advantage of a saw plate that fits snuggly in the saw posts with very little play side to side.

That said, the handle is big, boxy and feels like gripping a brick.


By contrast, my Disston miter saw made c. 1897-1917, fits rather nicely in my paw.


I especially like the rounded hump in the middle of the backside of the handle because it fills my palm.


The picture may not show it, but the vintage handle’s hump is more pronounced.

What to do?

I thought about modifying the 1124’s original saw handle. After all, others have done it with fantastic results.


But, when it came to it, I didn’t have the heart to apply files to a 60-year old handle that is in such phenomenal shape. So I back-burnered any solution.

Then one day, I was walking across the living room with a jar of peanut butter when, all of a sudden like, my lady—who was carrying some chocolate incidentally—ran into me. Peanut butter…chocolate…combined…and a handle solution was born.

The plan was to trace the front portion of the late-model saw—so as to provide an identical “platform” from the stock handle with which to affix the new handle. That’s the peanut butter. Then, I would “graft” a tracing of the comfy rear handle portion of my early 20th century Disston. That’s the chocolate. Better together.

Incidentally, I did that before I discovered TGIAG Toolworks’ saw handle template library. They have Disston miter saw handle templates for both a three-hole and a four-hole miter saws. A word to the wise. Don’t take the layout of the bolt holes as gospel. To avoid a nasty surprise, follow the process I outline below.

The combined handle template
After removing the original handle, I traced its outline onto some paper. Then superimposed the early-model handle over it, and lined up key reference points.


Then traced the rear portion of the desired handle onto the late-vintage saw’s drawing.


The combined template resulted in a handle (rear part penned in blue) with a higher hang than the original.


At the time, I didn’t think anything of it because the vintage saw also has a higher hang. However, having used the saw, I have to be conscious to keep the saw teeth level, and minimize any downward pressure. Otherwise, the teeth “catch” in the kerf and make for a rough cutting action. The next miter saw handle I make will have a neutral hang to it.

After cutting out the template, I sprayed on some adhesive and affixed it to a crotch walnut blank.


Being sure to align the grain for strength and beauty.


Cutting out the rough handle
Next, I loaded up some Forstner bits to remove waste from curved areas. Followed by cutting out the handle’s outline with a coping saw.


Aligning bolt holes with the saw plate
At this point, I drilled the holes for the saw plate. I do this now because if I botch it up, and have to toss the handle, I won’t have wasted hours of work shaping it.

Jedi Woodworking Master, Bob Rozaieski has a neat trick to accurately complete this step.

Superimpose the saw plate over the template, “center-punch-mark” the holes with a bit of the same diameter, then drill the holes and make sure they line up.



Slotting the tote
Next, I slotted the handle. I do this now because if I screw it up, and have to throw away the handle, I won’t have wasted hours of work shaping it.

Jedi Saw Master Matthew Cianci has a cool little trick to do this.


The slot accommodates the saw plate. Drilling a mortise makes room to seat the spine.


And dry fit the handle to the saw plate to make sure everything fits all nice and comfy.

Machining holes for the hardware
The late-vintage nuts and bolts hardware sit flush to the handle face. So there’s no recesses to be drilled. However, the nuts are larger in diameter than the hole I bored straight through for the bolts. So I had to drill 5/8” of the way through the nut side to accommodate them.

Shaping the handle
With these critical steps out of the way, it was time to spend hours shaping the tote. I was so engrossed in this process that I forgot to take pictures. And this step took the most time by far. I was more aggressive using the rough rasp on the second handle I made for a different miter saw. This significantly reduced the shaping time.

Cross-section first
The first thing I did was square the edges to the faces, bringing the stock to within 1/32” of the template outline. This was made easier with a drill-press-mounted sanding drum.

Then add details and contours
To make the transition points along the edge, such as the triangular “nib,” I used a chisel. Then I used a rasp to rough out the contour of the handle sides. That was followed by strips of 60 & 100 grit papers to shape/smooth all the contours for the inside and outside edges. From there, I worked through the grits to get the surfaces baby smooth.

Finishing the tote
I like the feel of BLO plus paste wax on handles. It has a natural feel in the hand. I may finish the next handle with shellac to better protect against moisture transfer, but for now, I’m satisfied.

Adding to the saw plate and testing
After the finish dried, I compared it to the original.


And marveled at the crotch grain all on its own.


Then put it on the saw.

P24-New-Mitersaw-Handle-Finished-Affixed-to-Sawplate P25-New-Mitersaw-Handle-Finished-Ready-for-Work

And was satisfied with some test cuts. More importantly, the new handle fits my hand much better than the original.


So now I get the benefits of a quality vintage box without enduring the hardships of a cheap handle. That’s my peanut-butter cup handle.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

Posted in Backsaws, Hand tool techniques | Tagged , | 1 Comment

De-cluttering the Kitchen—Cutting Board Wall Rack

Like many woodworking projects, this one started with my lady asking, “Can we make something to hold our cutting boards? And to clear up the counter space over there?”


“And why don’t we put them up here? Right by the knives and the counter we use to prep food?


That led to a trip to the lumber yard for some cherry to match the cabinets. After completing a prototype out of pine and getting Gail’s feedback, I put this together.


The 16” backboard is joined to the 10” shelf like this:


If you look up to the pic of the rack’s future location marked by a blue square, you can see that it was necessary for it to overhang the tile by about 6 inches. That was just the right height to comfortably dock and retrieve the boards. So I had to add 3/8” spacers to the rack back.


Then, after much tapping of the drywall and use of a magnetic stud finder, I couldn’t find any studs. So my plan was to use drywall screws.


But of course, as soon as I drilled into the wall I hit studs. So only the screws were necessary.

Up went the rack and soon after the cutting boards.


That cleared up this space.


And now, the knives and prep area are within arm’s reach of all our cutting boards.


“That looks great honey. Now how about a dining room hutch to hold our special plates?”

Oh boy. I knew I was getting off easy.

© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.

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Rust-hunting serendipity—A year of searching turns up “Precious” parts

About a year ago, I restored a Goodell Manufacturing Co. miterbox. It was lacking both of its accessories when I originally bought it. A slide post to facilitate crown moulding cuts, and a length gauge slide. It was also missing a slide retention clip and a thumbscrew.

That nagged at me. So much so that I made a clip and bought a jig thumbscrew to secure it. I also started making wooden prototypes of the slides.


That didn’t help. The missing parts weighed on me like a Chinese water torture. The dripping even drove me on a quest to hunt down vintage accessory parts. That journey hit a dead end but pronto. So I fiddled with the idea of having a machinist make them. But I couldn’t find one in my area to fashion the pieces at a reasonable price. And with that, the whole notion moved to a back burner.

Then one day, I was clicking through Ebay’s listings for miterboxes when I came across this pic.


It’s a spitting image of the one I restored. Only it looked much sexier for a few very important reasons.

For one, it had the post slide accessory. Which was held in place by a vintage thumbscrew and bracket.


And on the right, there was the length gauge.


These were just the parts I needed to end my torture. I submitted the winning bid, though at the time the shipping seemed a bit low at $13.00. Sure enough, soon after, the seller informed me that he had made an error. He would either refund my money or bill me $25 more to ship it, my choice.

I paused a moment to consider my options.

Option A: Get my money back. Like hell. By this time I was fixated on the parts like Gollum was to the Ring in Lord of the Rings. “Come to me Precious.”

Option B: Pony up the extra cash. That would have brought the price of the things I needed to about $50.00. Ouch! It also would have brought a fifth(!) miterbox into my workshop. That might be a problem. You see SWMBO might start to think—justifiably if you want to put a fine point on it—that I had a miterbox hoarding problem. There must be an….Option C!

Option C: Counter the seller’s fair offer with a win-win proposition. I told the seller that he could keep the cash I had paid, and most of the miterbox. I specified which parts I needed and enclosed digital pictures of each. And while I was at it, I asked if the miterbox came with a saw. He agreed, saying that he had a saw that he would send.

When the parts tumbled out of the box onto my workbench, I uttered a single word, “Precious.”

The slide retention clip was painted black to match its restored counterpart. Then it was attached with one of the vintage thumbscrews.


It took some time to remove the rust that was caked onto the other parts. Inserting the first slide felt like slipping a .45 shell into a special-edition Colt revolver adorned with silver plating and decorative carving.



Reuniting the length gauge with its period-correct sister felt just as good.


“Oh my Precious.”

After pausing to admire the tool in all its restored glory, I turned to the backsaw.


Turns out it’s Disston with a 10” plate. No good for the miterbox, but I love it anyway. I’ve sharpened her for service as a dovetail saw.

And with these parts my Depression-era miterbox is complete!

Well. Almost complete.

You see, while I love the miter saw I bought for it, the etching identifies it as originally being paired with a Langdon miterbox. And that nags at me. Drip, drip, drip. So I’m on the hunt for a saw that originally came with these boxes. A Disston stamped with an etching that reads, “Made Exclusively for Goodell Manufacturing Co.

I know now to bide my time. Because one day, a period- and model-correct saw will be cradled in its posts. And when that day comes, my restoration will, at last, be complete!

So that my descendants can sell it for peanuts at my estate sale. Well, at least there’s hope the next owner will enjoy a lifetime of untortured use from it.


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