Welcome! Forums Project Series Tool Chest My Tool Chest build


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    Hey guys. I meant to do a progressive post, but never got it started. Now that my chest is done, I thought I’d put it all together in one post. Hope it’s not too long. Ever since I saw Paul’s tool chest when I went to the 9-day course in NY, I wanted to make one, so seeing this project show up on WWMC was very exciting. It was a very fun build, and I learned a ton along the way.

    I decided to make my chest out of pine, since I’d be painting it anyway. After cutting and planing all my stock, it was dovetail time!

    It always irks me when I hear people say how impossible it is to make good dovetails in soft woods. This is pine, and I’m no expert. Nice and tight (if a bit over-overlapping if that’s a word).

    The joint for the cross piece was fun to make.

    Turned out pretty well too.

    Overall box dry assembled.

    Glue up is always an exciting time. I used thin pieces just inside the dovetails to clamp to, since my pins were sticking out a bit.

    Forgot to photo the construction of the top/bottom frames, but I cut the mortises using Paul’s guide, and it helped keep them straight, so the tenons all fit nicely, and the haunches locked right into the grooves.

    Rounded over the edges with my No 4. Only did the top of the bottom piece.

    Box resting on the bottom panel, raised panels ready to go into the lid frame (which is dry fit here).

    Panels fit into the lid. Lid then cleaned up and edges rounded over.

    Box all glued up. It finally felt like I had made a tool box, but still had a good bit of work to do.

    Scariest part was definitely cutting the box in two.

    I had a little “injudicious cutting” on the back, and had to spend some time correcting it to make the edges all even, but it worked out. This was part of that whole learning thing 🙂 As Paul says in the video, “The penalty for inaccuracy is more work.”

    Cut and fit the supports for the top section.

    Fit in the plywood. Really looking like something you could put tools in now.

    Lid sits nice and flush after putting on the hinges.

    I opted for three hinges, and a folding support that locks open. Pretty happy with it.

    Closer view of the hardware.

    Drawer construction was pretty straight forward. These were my first half-blind dovetails, so I was pretty happy with them. Nice thing about pine is that the gaps close up fairly well when you glue up. This shot is still a dry fit.

    Fitting the drawers took a good bit of fiddling, but turned out alright. Added some handles to the sides as well, before I locked down the top panel.

    Added in some small mitered pieces to finish off the top section. I used Paul’s “poor man’s” miter jig, and just super-glued the pieces with a few drops, so I can easily remove them if I need to get back at the insides of the chest for some reason.

    So here’s where I went a little different route. I told my friend I was making a tool chest, but hadn’t decided what color to paint it. She said that she thought that tool boxes were always red, so I thought “Why not?” I had to cover up all my joinery anyway, so why not make it fun? I sanded the whole box, put on a coat of shellac, sanded that, then the paint. This is after the first one or two coats.

    After three coats of paint, another coat of shellac to seal it up, and some wax, it’s super-shiny. I love it! In this pic, I have some salvaged pulls on the drawers. I replaced them with something simpler later, and may replace those with some of Paul’s hand-cut pulls at some point.

    Partially stocked. I want to put dividers in the drawers, but still haven’t figured out exactly what I want where yet. Need to mount the other saw in the lid as well.

    Overall, I am very happy with the chest. I do wish it were a little taller, as there is not enough clearance in the top to stand my planes up without hitting the lid. It’s a fairly minor inconvenience though, as the lid is usually open anyway.

    Next project is to make another one in mahogany for a china/flatware case for my sister as a wedding gift. After all I learned on this one, I think it will be pretty sweet!

    I can’t thank Paul and company for bringing WWMC to us, and to all of you for the support and community that we are building here as we build great things using real woodworking on real wood.
    Thanks for reading, and best of luck to all of you on your builds!


    You build very nice tool chest))my still in progress,top clearance was the surprise for me too.I decided not dividing the box, instead of that I make it another one the top, proportional to the size of the drawers)
    Red color great challenge))Thanks for posting step by step photos with the comments)
    Thanks for sharing.

    Toronto, Canada

    George Bridgeman

    Fantastic work, Joe! Very impressive result and it seems like you enjoyed the process, too. Congratulations!


    "To know and not do is to not know"

    John Moore

    What a great job! The tool chest looks nice. The photos along the way are icing on the cake. You documented the project very well. Thanks for sharing.

    Lakeland, Florida USA


    Joe, that’s a great looking chest. I like your choice of hardware. If this chest is any indication, your mahogany chest is going to be really great.

    Your’s and Serhiy’s comment about the top not having much clearance reminded me that Paul said on one of the videos (I think) that he made one of his boxes to have a taller top to fit his bigger planes. That made me assume that “normal” planes would work with the suggested dimensions. You said you had to remove some material to fix your sawing inaccuracies when you removed the lid. How much did you have to remove? Is that the reasons you need to lay your planes down?


    Thanks for the kind words, gents. The work I see everyone post here on the forum has been a great inspiration to just start making stuff. You only get better by practicing.

    Jason- Yes, I definitely lost a little clearance with my corrections, but that 1/8th was not enough to make the planes fit. My stock was 1×12, so I only had 11-1/2″ to start with. Had I had the full 12″, it would have been closer, but I think I’d have to make the big drawer smaller to really have enough room for the planes in the top compartment. I have seen Paul post pictures of a narrower, taller version of the chest.
    Here it is.


    Obviously, any of the projects here can be modified to suit, but I just didn’t factor in the height of the planes before I put this one together. Next time 🙂

    Greg Merritt

    Joe, your tool chest looks fantastic! I like the red, very bold. Thanks for posting about it.



    Yep the red color makes your chest, Now, I am thinking on what color I will paint mine….

    From El Salvador, currently living in Guatemala


    Nicely done gents, they look fantastic!



    Nice box! Thanks for posting.

    New Brunswick, Canada

    Mark Armstrong

    OOH like a lot well done guys.

    Dagenham, Essex, England


    Very impressed with your joinery Joe, well done and many thanks for sharing it



    Your through dovetails and frames look flawless. I love the red…I was just thinking the other day about painting a tool chest that color.

    May it serve you well!

    -Scott Los Angeles

    Eddy Flynn

    well done Joe that joinery looks brilliant great job

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

    Brian Loran

    Great looking chest Joe! I like the color choice too. The contrast of the pine and bright red looks cool when opened.

    I built my tool chest to Paul’s specs and was also shocked when my planes did not fit in the top when closed. I assumed they would but wish I double checked… May build another one at some point but for now I will put my joinery planes (rebate, plough, router, etc) and other smaller items in the top.

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