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.