The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Going Dutch


After work tonight I was in the garage doing a little visualizaton of my hopefully soon to be new workbench top. For a moment I had a scary thought, and that thought was building an entire new bench, but I think for the time being I will just stick with the new top idea. If it comes down to it and I feel the need to build an entire bench then that’s what I’ll do. That bridge will be crossed when I come to it. In the short term I need to figure out a new way of organizing my tools. The new bench top will be at least a foot longer than my current top. As of now, I keep some of my most used tools stored on the floor at the left corner of my bench. Unfortunately, if I want to keep my bench centered on my garage window, which I do, it’s going to make it a lot more difficult to reach down into that corner to grab tools and hardware. A few months back I installed two 36″ wide cabinets in the back corner of my garage, and they have helped greatly in storing tools and parts that I don’t use every day, but want to keep close at hand. I also received word that a nice, very large pantry cabinet is soon to be at my disposal. I have a feeling that I will be using that cabinet to store typical garage odds and ends: cleaners, paints, my electrical tools, and other miscellaneous items that every garage manages to accumulate over time. The pantry cabinet will hopefully do two things: get my garage even more clean and organized, and also free up a roughly 3ftx3ft area to the right of my workbench. This soon to be Shangri La of square footage has me thinking about a new way to store my tools, and that way is looking more and more like a Dutch Tool Chest.

The Dutch tool chest has gained popularity by….I don’t want to say for fear of being sued. Anyway, it was a design I really liked when I first saw it. Firstly, it doesn’t have the large footprint that a traditional toolchest has. If I got rid of my tool cart I would theoretically have room for a full sized chest, and while I have nothing against them at all, I really don’t want one. I don’t own enough tools to fill a full sized chest and won’t for a long, long time. To me, those chests work great if you have a full set of wood moulding planes; most traditional chests I’ve seen have a large area set aside just for that purpose. I have one wood moulding plane, and while I would love to have a full set, the only way that is going to happen if somebody dies and leaves me a lot of spare cash. Secondly, I don’t want to get rid of my tool cart. My garage isn’t just a place for woodworking in my house. My wife parks in there, I keep my non-woodworking tools in there as well, and my tool cart does a great job in storing certain important items, and because it has an integral power strip I use it to keep my battery charger and my Ipod dock. The top is also a great place to sharpen and keep pencils and fittings handy. So with the toolchest option out I believe that the Dutch Tool Chest is the way to go.

I unfortunately don’t have a plan to use as a guideline, only some photos I’ve seen on the net. From what I can gather, the Dutch chest isn’t a complicated design, and I should be able to get the proportions I need by using a little math and a little common sense. I figure a chest of 33 inches wide, by 30 inches tall, by 1 foot deep should suit my needs, though that is just a rough estimate. Those dimensions should keep all of my most used tools close at hand (and elevated off the ground, I don’t like to bend over if I can’t help it, which is another reason I don’t want a traditional chest) while at the same time not becoming a floor space hogging liability. I think I will make the case itself out of plywood, and “frame” it in Poplar. The area of PA I live in has hot and humid summers and cold, dry winters, in other words, a fairly harsh environment for furniture being kept year round in a space with little climate control. I think a plywood case will hold up much better over the long haul, and it will also help to keep the material costs down. I also have a set of casters all ready to be added to the bottom. I would love to post a photo of a completed Dutch chest, but yet again, I don’t want to upset the wrong people.

I’m not sure when I will start this project. It should be sometime at the end of this month, which I hope will coincide with my new finished workbench top and the start of The HandTool School online courses. Whatever the case, I will start making up sketches and taking measurements as soon as possible. It will be much easier once my pantry cabinet is installed. But until then, I will have to rely on some educated guess work, and some hopeful measurements. Either way, it’s time to place an entry in the future ledger.



  1. orepass says:

    Bill, have you looked at Paul Sellers Blog Lately, his next masterclass
    Project is a tool chest that sits on top of a cabinet. May not be what you want,but worth taking a look. I saw it in person and it is an excellent size. There is also a description and cut list for the cabinet underneath the toolchest on an earlier blog. You may want to look at the master classes along with the hand tool school. I have enjoyed both and learned a lot in a short period of time.

    • billlattpa says:

      The elevated tool chest sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’m going to have to check it out as well as Seller’s master classes. I’ve watched some of his you tube videos and I am very impressed. His shooting board video was probably one of the best short woodworking videos I’ve ever watched, and I wasn’t even planning on making a shooting board when I watched it. Thanks for the tips, believe me I’m always open to good advice. Bill

  2. Jonas Jensen says:

    I think it sounds like a good idea with the tool chest. I made the ATC at a class once and it is very large. So if floor space is kind of limited, a smaller foot print chest is a good idea.
    Jonas (who don’t get much woodworking done those days)

    • billlattpa says:

      I liked the Dutch tool chest design pretty much right away. It seems much more practical than the ATC. And I like the height of the top compartment, which seems like it will eliminate a lot of stooping and bending. I’m in the same boat as you as far as woodworking. I have so many nagging little projects I need to do around my house that it’s really cut into my free time on the weekends. I have some time off coming up that I hope will allow me to get all of those projects out of the way in just a few days time. The Big one is replacing the wainscoting and trim in our bedroom. That one is probably going to take the good part of a day to get done. Thanks, and hopefully you are back in the shop soon.

  3. Art Watson says:

    I have found the lure of a Dutch chest very appealing as well. Please don’t forget to take notes so you can share your design with us 🙂

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June 2013
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