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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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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