1. Really excited to make this one. I have a question. You mentioned cupping on one of the boards and I noticed in the video that the board you were working on was a little cupped. Should we be concerned if this happens? Will the joint pull together and draw the cup out? I’m assuming that the piece was perfectly flat at one point and cup slightly due to moisture changes. This question stems from me trying to learn how flat does flat really need to be. Simillarly how square does square need to be. I strive for perfection but to be honest you can plane a board to nothing trying to get it perfect and I’m not sure that is necessary based on what I read about 17th and 18th century work.

    1. Hi dmarshall83,
      Great question. Firstly, the boards Paul was using were fully seasoned, not green. So, the cup was likely only slight and from a temporary change in moisture. He had milled the wood the night before and left it lying flat on a surface. This made it absorb moisture from one side and not the other. This is not much of a problem because it will right itself when it is in a position to absorb moisture evenly.

      However, if the wood had been unseasoned then any movement is of concern. This is because it is likely to be more long term and damaging change in the way the wood will operate in its function.

      Regarding squareness. Make as square as you can. Your registrations for the square, marking gauge etc rely on the accuracy of the surfaces. There is no magic number because 1/2 a degree over half an inch is hardly noticeable but over several feet it could start to throw your work visibly out of square once you have transferred a few lines.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Dan and Joseph,
        I was watching for this answer because I too have a couple of cupped pieces. I think my case is a little different. I resawed and milled a 1″ cherry board to two 3/8″ pieces about 6 weeks ago. I then (foolishly?) laid both pieces flat on the bench, and left for a few weeks. Upon getting back to the shop, I found them cupped. The Cherry was only 3 or 4 weeks in my shop when I milled it, and I have no idea of how seasoned it was.

        The cupping did not cure itself when I turned the pieces over and stickered them for a week or so. Now however, I think I might have found a cure. While we’re generally cursing the clear sky 96° heat these days, I’ve been putting those boards out in the sun (crown up) and they’re settling down to flat. We’ll see if that’s the cure.

        1. Bob,
          Tage Frid mentions dealing with this in one of his books.
          Basically he recommends dampening the concave side with water to swell the fiber and flatten the board out and then while flat cutting the joints.
          I had acouple of boards that were cupped a little when making my beehives. I used these for the pin boards and oriented the cupping to the inside so that the tails would hold fast if it decided to cup again.
          I didn’t do this on one box and oriented the pin board toward the outside. The end pins pulled away when placed outside, being restrained on only one side.
          Hope this helps.

      1. Unless you’re using the handles to pull outward that doesn’t make sense to me. Even then you’d probably strip the mounting screws out before you could pull the dovetails apart.

        Lifting with the handles is a vertical motion, the joint is in shear and the direction of the dovetails on the sides of the case is irrelevant.

      2. I know this is a while after the fact, but I wouldn’t want another “newbie” like me to get the wrong impression here.
        If indeed the majority of the stress on the joint is going to be lateral, as would happen if you dragged the case by its handle, these joints are backward. You always put the pins on the board under the most stress, in this case the sides. That way you utilize both the strength of the glue and the mechanical properties of the joint.
        The vast majority of casework is assembled with pins in front and tails on sides, like a drawer box. It’s simply not applicable in this particular situation. Probably just force of habit.

  2. Fantastic episode and new project. Almost makes me wish I hadn’t already build my own chest. Always room for more though!
    The panel instruction is going to be particularly good! Thanks Paul & team.

  3. I enjoyed the episode.

    I already have some wide cherry flat sawn boards for the toolchest. Should I be looking for quarter sawn lumber for the rails and stiles of the frames?



  4. Paul is an excellent teacher. I know this because I’ve been in many classrooms in my life. Paul is a good teacher because he repeats things many times, such as when he demonstrates the making of a knife wall. Almost every project he repeats the method. It’s repetitious and that’s what transfers knowledge.

  5. We have just made this project here in New York. I made one too, but I made this new one only 14″ deep from front to back. It will work well for traveling with and also it will be smaller on my my bench. When I get back the whole filming area, which is really my work area, has been revamped with a smaller bench I made years ago. My toolbox will be suited to this I think.
    See you all in two weeks!

  6. Thanks Paul and Joseph I really am enjoying watching this project as I plan on this to my next major project after my bench build. I am really enjoying using the hand tools and really enjoy and appreciate the different methods you demonstrate. Keep up the good work Guy’s.


  7. Paul & team, great job as always. Thanks for guessing my question on using the coping saw. As I’ve seen many examples of woodworkers using the coping saw for speed but I’ve only heard experienced woodworkers talk about chopping out the waste. I don’t know if I’ll get to this straight away, as we are still remodeling and relocating but I will get to it later, I love the design.

  8. I see this technique is the same as the approach to cutting mortises.
    The chisel moves along the path of least resistance, thus even though the bevel is opposite the shoulder it will move away from it due to the chiseledout “knife wall”.

  9. Hi There Paul & Co!

    Thank you for sharing all this interesting knowledge with me / us. It’s beginning to get addictive, I’m spellbound. Last night I became a premium member to the masterclass and has already watched episode one of the toolchest project.

    Best Regards,

  10. Are you using a different chisel for cleanup than the ones you used to remove the waste?

    My Irwin chisels don’t pair very well after some chopping with a mallet. I am not sure if I need better chisels, better sharpening technique or lower expectations.


    1. Hi Frank,
      You can use both methods. If you are doing it for the first time, or want more control, you can go with the piece in a vice/clamp, and go with the bevel up, as in the dovetail caddy episode 1 video. If you have a lot of dovetails to do, such as on the toolbox, you can cut them as Paul shows in the video, which can be more efficient as you don’t have to go in and out of the vice/clamp. I would suggest trying both out and seeing how you get on.
      Hope that helps.

  11. Paul, I started building this box this week and I wanted to build the taller box as you did to have that extra room in the too compartment. I had also noticed some comments from others here that the top compartment was not tall enough to stand their planes up. I started mine by glueing up boards to make the 15 inches you described. Are there any particulars to a glue up for this box that you would suggest? I’ve drilled and glued dowels between the boards to give it some strength and tried to avoid placing them where they might rear their ugly head during sizing or cutting the dovetails. Any lessons learned would be great.

    1. Sandy-

      I am surprised that Paul’s design does not allow for a 5.5″ Stanley plane to fit standing up. I am glad to discover that before proceeding too far. Instead of gluing up a wider panel, I may just leave one drawer out of the design since I plan to build a second drawer chest anyway.

      For tool chests, I have read from a couple of old sources (Hayward, Hasluck) that it is best to not have the glue seam meet at the corners of a chest. In their view, the back should be flipped upside down relative to the sides (or vise versa). Perhaps that was more important before stronger glues were invented…


  12. I laid out and cut my dovetails on my oak tool chest today. It’s amazing how much easier this method using the backer board is! I got more accurate dovetails than on any of my other projects prior to this. Thanks for the excellent instruction!

  13. Paul,
    great videos. A question:

    If you were making a tool-chest as a paid-for job, and not as a demonstration to learners, would you adopt the same techniques, or would you take a few short-cuts? Ie would you leave off the backing board? Would you cut to a knife-line without making the knife-wall first?

    Thank you!

    1. I pretty much use the knifewall all the time and make the recess step-down with the horizontal cut too. Sometimes I will cut 1mm from the knifewall. This then compresses the endgrain into itself and I end up on the knifewall dead on. Subsequent cuts retain perfect alignment to the knifewall because of the consolidation of the wood through this added step.

      I am not really a shortcut man but I do work a little differently when not working to camera because working to camera means always being conscious of what the viewer sees and not necessarily what I can see. It can be difficult sometimes and people might not realise how much effort goes into maintaining continuity that would otherwise be quite irritating to the viewer but we always get there in the end.

    1. Spacing for dovetails is a matter of personal preference. Refinements deep end n the work in hand. For an everyday chest of drawers I generally maintain a 3/8″ in pin at the narrow side and a 1″ to 1 1/4″ at the wide end of the tail. On a highly refined piece `i like the look of thin pins but usually don’t go less than 1/8″ at the narrow end. The tails are rarely narrower than 3/4″ at the wide end.

  14. Hi and thanks for this video, I spotted Paul’s tool box at The Ally Pally wood working show a few years ago, and made a mental note of the construction,
    Its certainly on my bucket list of projects, once more many thanks Larry.

  15. I’ve made a variation on this tool chest for my daughter over the past couple of months. I made it much larger (900mm wide) and put 4 drawers in instead of 2. She uses it for storing all her baking equipment, of which she has loads. I wanted to make it in Oak, but I couldnt buy even rough sawn for less than £300.00 so resorted to building it in pine instead. The finished product, finished in Sanding Sealer, Shellac and wax actually looks fabulous, so I can’t complain. I’m now making another one to Paul’s exact dimensions, which will become the toolbox I use for myself, but this time I’m using some teak that I’ve had in the workshop for about 20 years waiting for a suitable project (I inherited this from a chap who was building himself a yacht, but sadly passed away before he completed the project). I’ve never worked with teak before, so I know I’m in for some fun. I managed to completely blunt (actually ruin) a set of thicknesser knives when I initialy prepared the rough stock, but the teak is now at 3/4 inch and looking lovely. I’ve done some research into working with teak, and am cleaning all joints with acetonbe prior to applying any glue. I’ve ended up with 4″ planks, which I’ve glued together to form the panels for the toolbox. The joints were are cleaned with acetone immediately after planing then glued with Titebond original. They seem to have glued very well and I’ve now surface hand planed them ready for the dovetails. Hopefully, the finished article should look wonderful.

    One question for Paul please; can I use 2 coats of sanding sealer, follwed by a couple more coats of shellac then finished with wax polish? Do I have to clean the finished box with acetone prior to applying the first coat of sanding sealer?

    Many thanks

  16. Paul doesn’t ever say what piece it is that is in his vise that he starts working on. I cannot figure it out, please someone assist. Which piece is it, you can’t just jump into it and assume that we know which part you’re working on. Some of us are novices!

  17. If you look at the marking-out process, (about 12 minutes in) he is marking ‘tails’ on this particular piece in the vice.

    Refer back to the assembled piece at the start of the film and look closely; you will see that he has chosen to put the tails in the sides.

    Therefore, the front and back parts on this piece contain the ‘pins’, the sides have the ‘tails’.
    So, here, he’s working on one of the sides.

    He chooses to mark and make the tails first and then use them to mark the pins.

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