Tool Chest: Project Info

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Material dimensions:

Materials: Paul uses mahogany, as well as some 3/8″ and 1/4″ plywood, but you could use pine, oak walnut, cherry, maple, sycamore etc.

Main box:

Front13/4″ x 5 7/8″ x 24″
Back13/4″ x 11 3/4″ x 24″
Sides23/4″ x 11 3/4″ x 18″
Rail13/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 24″

Lid and bottom frames:

Long rail 43/4″ x 3″ x 26″ (allows 1″ extra length)
Short rail53/4″ x 3″ x 16″

Important Note:

Panel material will be sized to finished frames after joinery is completed as there may be some variation depending on individual sizing by participants. Suggest participants add 1/2″ or so to be safe and then cut and fit to exact size later.

Plywood panel for bottom frame:

Ply for panel1/4″ x 13 3/4″ x 19 3/4″

Solid panels for top frame:

Panels5/8″ x 8 3/4″ x 13 3/4″
Plywood compartment bottom3/8″ x 17″ x 22 3/4″ (must be cut and planed tight)
Panel support7 linear feet @ 1/2″ x 1/2″
Internal trim7 linear feet @ 1/2″ x 1/2″ quadrant or triangle


Fronts13/4″ x 3″ x 23″
Fronts13/4″ x 2 1/4″ x 23″
Sides21/2″ x 3″ x 17 1/4″
Sides21/2″ x 2 1/4″ x 17 1/4″
Backs11/2″ x 3″ x 23″
Backs21/2″ x 2 1/4″ x 23″

Tools list

  • Knife
  • Square
  • Combination gauge (or marking gauge and mortise gauge)
  • Chisel hammer
  • Chisels (at least ¼″, 3/8″, ½″, 3/4″ and 1″)
  • Router (hand router that is, you can see how to make a ‘Poor Man’s Router here)
  • Tape/Ruler (or both)
  • Smoothing plane
  • Jack Plane (optional but recommended if preparing your wood from rough sawn)
  • Winding Sticks
  • Handsaw
  • Tenon saw
  • No 80 Cabinet Scraper
  • Plough Plane
  • You will also need 2 or 3 hinges and some form of stay.


  1. Ken on 17 July 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I think a few of us have been waiting for this one. I’m not sure if I’m up to sawing the top of though. 🙂

    • JONATHAN WARREN on 17 July 2013 at 6:54 pm

      yes, indeed – I am with you there, Ken – I have been waiting for this one, too. 🙂

    • woodworker435 on 21 July 2013 at 12:01 am

      You’ll do fine Ken. Last week, I made mine in Paul’s month long in US. It was an easy thing to do, just takes a bit of time, patience, and energy.

      • Ken on 21 July 2013 at 3:04 am

        Thanks David, time, patience, and energy I have. Sawing skills I can saw to a line great, It’s getting the edge square thats the problem. 😉

  2. Ken on 17 July 2013 at 2:55 pm

    the top off, even 😉

  3. bavakian on 17 July 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Wonderful. I am very excited about this build.

  4. Scott on 17 July 2013 at 5:00 pm

    How very exciting! I’ve been waiting a while for this one…and just in time for my birthday. Thanks!

  5. aledpugh on 17 July 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Excellent, as the others have said. Very much looking forward to this. Thank you

  6. Mexiquite on 17 July 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Sawing the top off was quite some fun. Seems scary, but once you get going it’s pretty easy. Ofcourse, you’ll need to have a sharp saw 🙂

  7. garyprott on 17 July 2013 at 5:32 pm

    This should be fun. Thanks Mr. Sellers.

  8. John Verreault on 17 July 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I am truly looking forward to this project series.

  9. empeg9000 on 17 July 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Really looking forward to this. I have some other smaller projects I need to finish first though.

  10. Brian Loran on 18 July 2013 at 12:17 am

    Let’s get to it! Been waiting for this one too!

  11. John Guengerich Jr on 19 July 2013 at 5:50 am

    Alright! I’m with y’all, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this class!

  12. Anonymous on 19 July 2013 at 8:18 am

    I’ve been eying that toolbox since episode one of the clock!

  13. STEVE MASSIE on 19 July 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks Paul and Joseph for yet another great up coming project. I have really been waiting for this one so i can store my tool’s after i finish my bench ( Paul’s bench ) . Can’t wait to get started on this one.


  14. smfield on 20 July 2013 at 7:37 pm

    When I sawed the top off there must have been some internal stress relief because the top and bottom of the chest failed to a line when I put the hinges on!?

  15. David R. on 29 October 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Is there a list of tools and equipment required/recommended for building the tool chest? The other projects seem to features such an information, but I couldn’t find it here.

    • Philip Adams on 31 October 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Hi David, thank you for pointing that out. I will put one together.

      • tompslattery on 26 September 2014 at 3:07 am


        I know this is and old post but did the tool list every get uploaded? I can’t find it

  16. johnstodden on 28 August 2014 at 9:58 am

    I have not tried to source the timber yet, but presumably, if using hardwood, most of us will need to joint boards to get the required width (11 3/4″) for the back and sides?

    • George Bridgeman on 28 August 2014 at 11:53 am

      Hi John,

      That’s right. If you can’t find wide enough stock, edge-joining is the way to go.


  17. wpollock on 11 October 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Hello Boys,

    I’ve been following The Olde Master (“TOM”) for a short while now. I am so thrilled to finally become a member. I cannot wait to start creating my tool chest. I am very grateful to TOM for his commitment to the cause of real craftsmanship, i.e. The Real Woodworking Campaign. It has lit a fire in my belly that I have not felt for many years.

    Thank you, Sir, thank you very much.

    Cheers from New York City,

    PS anyone in the Westchester area, please reach out. I’d love to start a ‘guild’ with like minds.

  18. Michael Barnes on 29 October 2014 at 7:45 am

    Brilliant series, loved every episode and learned so much. I would like to ask this though…does anyone have a rough guid to how much the materials for this tool chest would cost? Obviously the price would differ from wood to wood but let’s say for argument I could choose between Oak, Pine and Mahogany….roughly how much might this tool chest cost to make in each wood…..I’m very new to wood working so I have very little knowledge about sourcing wood and how much I should be paying for it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  19. petervalcanas on 12 December 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I remember many many years ago when I was just starting out as a machinist I wanted a Gerstner tool box but never could afford one, now perhaps I can make my own facsimile.
    I really want to make this box maybe not quite the same but very similar. Now all I need are the skills.

    Thanks for this Paul,

  20. diracasaurus on 11 May 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I’m excited to start this project, but I don’t have a plow plane and I’m already buying a router to get started. Has anyone substituted a flat board for the top and bottom panels instead of the raised panels and plywood? This would eliminate the need for the plow, but might add some extra weight to the box overall. Any thoughts?

    • liamc on 10 August 2017 at 2:40 am

      I did a very serviceable job with a tenon saw and a chisel/poor man’s router. Takes a lot longer though. I just ran a pair of gauge lines down the centre of the piece I wanted to plough, then slowly worked along the cut with the saw and removed the waste with the chisel. The depth is a bit variable, however

  21. bruno on 6 July 2017 at 10:22 am

    Hallo Paul Seller (and the rest of the group),
    You’re doing a very good job, thanks.
    I wonder if there is also a plan for the tool chest and I cannot simply find it.

    Thanks for all the really fantastic teaching you do Paul.

    • Philip Adams on 7 July 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Unfortunately there are no plans available for the early projects.
      Best, Phil

  22. Matt Kollar on 12 January 2018 at 5:43 pm

    I know it’s an old project, but were there ever any drawings made up for this that I can download? Thanks!

  23. John Padgett on 21 December 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Can we get drawings for this one?

  24. Jonathan Ard on 30 December 2018 at 4:37 pm

    For the life of me, I can’t find where Paul lays out and cuts the dovetails on the front upper panel of the box. Was this skipped over or am I missing it somewhere?

    • Jonathan Ard on 1 January 2019 at 1:17 pm

      I answered my own question: Paul covers layout at 22:00 in episode 2. Fortunately, he laid it out the same way I did; yesterday I cut the dovetails!

  25. kisser on 17 August 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I’d like to be able to access more episodes. All I can get now is the intro. Once I got e1 but not anymore

    • Selva on 17 August 2019 at 8:34 pm

      As explained elsewhere by Joseph, this may take a while to get fixed. For now follow the instructions in the “LOOKING FOR THE OTHER VIDEOS IN THIS SERIES?” paragraph at the bottom of the introductory description of each project.

      For this particular project that would take you to which will show links to all tool-chest episodes. Tedious, but useful until they fix the navigation.

  26. Colin Scowen on 18 January 2020 at 7:21 pm

    I have a question that is related to one of the other toolboxes that was shown. It is the third one, pine or something similar I think, the one with the door that opens down and the tills in the top. I’m pretty sure I can see that the door and the back panel are frame construction, but I am curious how the frame and panels are attached to the sides.

  27. Patrick Pepperell on 24 February 2020 at 2:34 pm

    This too chest will be perfect for all the tools I have to go out and buy to build it!

  28. William Fariss on 2 June 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Was there an adjustment to the dimensions later on in the series? It would appear that the short rail length is listed as 16″. However, the Main box side length is 18″. Did I miss something or have I read something wrong? I realize that this series is 7 years old, but I find that I need just this type of tool chest.

    Also, do you anticipate any drawings for the series in the future?

    • Joseph Sellers on 4 June 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Hi William,

      Happy to help.

      Those short (16″) rails you are referring to are part of the lid frame and because the are joined into the long rails they via a mortise and tenon that isn’t a through joint they don’t span the full depth (front to back) of the box which is why they are shorter than the depth (front to back) of the box. This should all make sense when you watch the part on lid joinery.

      Drawings are something we added part way through producing WWMC and it would be quite a bit of work to go back and complete drawings for past projects. I don’t rule it out altogether but our focus is on the current and future series.



      • William Fariss on 6 June 2020 at 12:59 pm

        Thank you for the response. I had forgotten when I watched videos that he did mortise and tenon work for the lid.

  29. Andrew Sinclair on 24 May 2021 at 5:51 am

    Are there likely to be any problems with widening the case to 30” or so? I’m guessing the existing sizing is so it can be got out of an 8 foot board with a bit of leeway. But I’ve realised, from a pic in the gallery, that a typical 20” or 22” panel saw will not fit, so am thinking to widen it accordingly.

    Btw I find this the most inspiring project in the whole of WWMC! I have been deferring it until my skills improved to meet the challenge – and I believe that time is now! (Or actually, as soon as I’ve sourced the lumber, hence my question!).

    • Izzy Berger on 10 June 2021 at 9:35 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Paul says:
      No problem. I have several such tool cases in use that are 24” long and more. The idea of this one is that it is a traveling joiner’s toolbox and that meant carrying it into homes and offices or on a bus or train.


  30. Andrew Sinclair on 10 June 2021 at 11:34 pm

    Brilliant, thank you Izzy, and Paul. It’s a good point that there’s a tradeoff in portability, particularly if carrying solo!

  31. CJ on 15 August 2022 at 11:48 am

    I notice that Paul lays out his dovetails on the two end pieces for this project, but the older tool chest he displays in this “project info” video has the dovetails cut on the front and back sections of tool chest. Is there any structural advantage to the tails being cut in the two ends, or is it just a matter of preference?

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