The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Dutch Resistance

Like nearly every other woodworker on the planet, I built a “Dutch” tool chest a few years back; in fact, I built two. I enjoyed both projects, and it was a good chance to work on several different skills: dovetail joinery, dado joinery, mortise and tenon joinery, joinery, joinery, joinery.

One of those chests I gave to my dad, the other I kept. For quite a while my chest was in my garage with most of my woodworking tools placed inside it. It sometimes sat on my bench, or under it, or under my feet. I bumped into it quite often, every now and again I would trip over it; I bent over countless times to get stuff out of it. Eventually, I smartened up, hung a cabinet and some tool racks on the walls near my work area, and put my Dutch tool chest in the attic.

Here is the plain truth that nobody wants to hear: working out of that chests sucked. It wasn’t a size issue; the chest was easily large enough to hold the bulk of my woodworking tools. It is a simple matter of logistics, too much bending over, reaching, stretching, dropping, knuckle banging nonsense.

I found the best way to work out of the chest was to put it on my workbench so that everything was at eye level. The problem there was it got in the way too much. Of course, I could put it back on the floor after I got everything out, but then all of that stuff was on the bench too. And who feels like picking up and putting down a 100 pound + tool chest four or five times? Not me.

I’ve seen videos where the woodworker removed all of the tools he/or she needed at the beginning of the project and put them on the bench. I suppose that works, but then all of the stuff is on the bench and in the way (unless you have a recessed tool tray, but they are bad news, right?)

Okay, I’m complaining, so what solution am I offering? The same one that has been around forever: mount your tools on a wall rack and store them in a wall hung cabinet.
Everything is at eye level, out of the way, easy to see and easy to reach. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: since I’ve mounted my tools on the wall I’ve become a more efficient woodworker. AND, my back feels a whole lot better.

So here is my expert advice: If, for some reason, you travel a lot with your woodworking tools, make a tool chest for transportation. And if you are like the overwhelming majority of amateur woodworkers with tools that very rarely leave your work area, mount your stuff on the wall over your bench. Nothing bad is going to happen to your stuff if it’s out in the open. I live in a high humidity area and I’ve had very few rust issues. Keep your tools oiled (as you should be doing anyway) and they’ll be just fine.

So why rehash a topic I know I’ve already covered? Well, a few weeks ago I was getting some things out of the attic and I saw my tool chest sitting on the floor. It still looked pretty good, and it will certainly still hold tools, so I brought it down the stairs, dusted it off, and sold it for a few bucks.

I mentioned a few posts back that I had sold off some tools (mostly duplicates) and how I surprisingly had no sentimental attachment to any of them. But when I sold my Dutch tool chest I very nearly backed out of the deal. My second thoughts didn’t stem from the sell cost, I was just very reluctant to let go of something I had built myself.

I’m hardly a great woodworker, but I put a lot of time and effort into my projects. For whatever it’s worth, and for all of it’s shortcomings, I thought that my tool chest looked great when I finished it. When I brought it down the attic stairs and briefly back into my garage, it seemed to “fit the scene”. But then I remembered why I put it into the attic in the first place, so I put sentimentality aside and did what I know was the right thing to do. And though I pride myself on being a person who makes the right decisions, the right decision in this instance wasn’t an easy one to make.

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Dutch Tool Box

Tot Ziens

When you’re a guy like me, and you woodwork at the back of a one-car garage, space is at an ultimate premium. The battle to remove clutter, create storage, and make the work area “work” is never ending. Generally, I keep my work space fairly clean and organized, yet, whenever I am working on a project, I always seem to notice something else that could be improved. And the past weekend was no exception.

This past Friday my daughter wasn’t feeling well, so I took the day off to stay with her. While she slept, rather than continuing my project, I decided to remedy something that has been bothering me for months.

My garage is “L” shaped, and the “L” section usually contains leftover paint, gardening supplies, and countless other items from countless other projects. Many years ago I built a three tier shelf from leftover “two-by” stock and slowly that shelf became more and more cluttered, no matter how-often I cleaned it. Most recently, my Dutch Tool Chest found its way there, and I decided to finally do something about it.

A few years ago Dutch Tool Chests were all the rage. I personally built two, one for my dad and one that I kept for myself. In fact, one of those chests actually made it to the daily top 3 on Lumberjocks. It was a fun project and contained all of my favorite joinery: dovetails, tongue and groove, mortise and tenon, and dados, as well as decorative cut nails. I enjoyed building it immensely.

BUT…

I found that I did not enjoy actually using the chest; it always seemed to be in the way, and once I made wall racks for my woodworking tools, the chest became a storage bin for rags and cleaning supplies, the only tool it contained being the head of an old ball peen hammer that I found. Considering that just a few weeks back I purged my wall cabinets of hundreds of magazines, I had plenty of room for those supplies, and considering the chest takes up a lot of space, I made the decision to put it into my attic and cover it with a sheet.

Even though I spent a lot of time on that chest, the decision to put it into storage was surprisingly easy. Just as I said goodbye to the Moxon vise without any regrets, I am now saying goodbye to the Dutch Tool Chest. I am not impugning either project, as I’ve seen many blog posts describing their virtues; they just didn’t work for me. Both were trends in woodworking that I mistakenly followed without doing enough research, and now both are just side notes in my woodworking history. And though I do regret the money I spent on the hardware for the Moxon vise, I do not regret building the Dutch Tool Chest. As I said, it was fun to build and the construction process made me a better woodworker.

The back corner of my garage is now a little more roomy, and a little better suited for my needs. I even took some of the leftover lumber from the shelf and made a quick little workbench to hold my grinder and drill press, two of the power tools I still actually use on occasion. It is a space I can put to good use. In fact, I hope to turn it into a dedicated sharpening station.

In the meanwhile, I did learn a lesson, and that is to avoid woodworking trends. Maybe there was a reason that items like the Moxon Vice and Dutch Tool Chest disappeared for such a long time. For my part, I found out the hard way that they weren’t for me. But then again, I would never have known if I hadn’t tried in the first place.

The Long and Winding Road.

Sunday, April 12th was the day I almost quit woodworking. There was nothing special about the day, aside from the lovely spring weather. In fact, the entire weekend was nice. I spent Saturday morning at Valley Forge Park working on one of the cabins as a volunteer. I got to install some true 18th century hinge hardware, and I got to use woodworking tools. We did a lot of nice work and it was an enjoyable morning. Sunday started out with a lot of promise. It was warm, sunny, and a perfect day for woodworking. But that all changed when I stepped into my garage.

For the past month or so I’ve been doing my best to organize my garage, prepare my woodworking tools, and otherwise do my best to turn the back of my garage into something of a real woodworking shop. My first attempts were successful. I reorganized my hardware, got rid of a lot of unnecessary clutter, and slowly but surely got my tools prepped for building furniture again. The next step I had planned was making a wall rack for hanging chisels, files, rasps, and marking tools. Currently, all of those things are in my tool chest. My tool chest has found a home under the right side of my bench and it is frankly a pain in the ass to keep bending over to pick things out of it. I felt a wall mounted rack would be an easy solution and the best way to keep everything safely out of the way but also within arms reach. I still had some scrap Walnut left over so that is what I used. And it pretty much went down hill from there.

Board in the rough

Board in the rough

Sawing to length

Sawing to length

Cleaning up the edges

Cleaning up the edges

Rather than break out the table saw I decided to do everything by hand. I won’t bore anybody with the details. I sawed, I planed, I chiseled, and I planed again. Let me just say before I continue that I generally don’t enjoy making “shop projects”. To me they are at best a necessary evil, at worst, a complete waste of time and energy. To continue, the next step was to lay out the holes for the tools. I marked the board and laid out a symmetrical pattern of 7/8″ holes roughly an inch and a half on center. After, I broke out the drill press to bore out the holes. Let me just say that boring out twenty or so holes using a drill press may have been one of the least satisfying experiences of my life, and this is coming from somebody who went through Basic Training. The entire time I was working I continually asked myself: “Why the F*** am I doing this? It’s nice out, and this completely sucks.” It then came to the question: “Why am I woodworking? Because right now I’m not enjoying it even a little.”

Cleats marked

Cleats marked

Cleats sawn and chiseled

Cleats sawn and chiseled

Bored holes, bored woodworker

Bored holes, bored woodworker

sawn out.

sawn out.

One hour and one big mess later the holes were bored out. Then came the even worse task of sawing out the fronts of the holes. After thirty minutes and even more mess that was finished. To add insult to injury, around the second cut in it occurred to me that my carcass saw needed to be sharpened, but I wasn’t about to do it then, so I instead used an old backsaw that was given to me by a friend of my wife. At that point I had had enough. The holes still needed to be cleaned up and rasped, the rack still needed to be smoothed and sanded, and the cleats still needed to be shaped. I didn’t do any of those things. I cleaned up, went and got myself cleaned up, and did my best to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

I will probably finish this project on Saturday afternoon, as my wife and daughter have somewhere to be. Not that I want to, but because I’ve already invested several hours into it I need to see it through. As this was all going on and I was completing the mind-numbing task I couldn’t help but to wonder who in their right mind would enjoy making a rack for chisels. But many woodworkers must because I’ve seen dozens of projects such as this in every woodworking magazine I’ve ever read. It then dawned on me that maybe I’m not cut out for woodworking after all. In any event I did the correct thing and walked away from it before It drove me from partially to completely insane. Maybe when it’s finished I will feel a little better about it. But right now I am four days removed and I still feel no enthusiasm. It will pass, I’m sure, but the next time I need a tool rack I’m going to buy it if I can, and the next tool box I make will be one that hangs on my wall.

Twist and Shout

More than a year ago I completed the construction of a Dutch Tool Chest. The DTC was and still is a popular trend in tool storage, and while I have a love/hate relationship with it, I can say in all honesty that it does a decent job of holding most of my woodworking hand tools.

When I constructed my chest, I basically followed the plans in Popular Woodworking Magazine. I did not change any of the joinery, but I did use decorative, wrought head cut-nails rather than screws, which I feel is a great improvement aesthetically. Other than that, the only changes made to the plans were the dimensions of the chest. The instructions for the lid were a little more ambiguous. For my chest, I used one wide poplar board as the lid. To keep the lid stable, I did not install battens or breadboard ends, which many other people who have built the chest did in fact do. It was my foolish hope that the long battens on the hinges would help control warp, but my hope proved false.

Yesterday afternoon I happened to take a glimpse at the chest sitting as it was sitting on top of my workbench and the lid was not completely shut. At first I thought one of the tools was keeping the lid from closing completely, but upon closer inspection I found that the panel had warped considerably. I measured the gap across the front and it was almost a perfect 3/8 throughout the entire length. I suppose I could attempt to install battens to help correct the warp, but my garage experiences the same temperature extremes that the rest of the area does: Hot in the Summer, freezing in the Winter, humid during the Spring, and dry in the Autumn. I think that adding battens will not completely solve the issue, and while I can’t say that I love the Dutch Tool Chest as a tool storage medium, I’m definitely not going to give up on it, as I spent a decent amount of time making it to the best of my ability, and I do feel it is a nice looking chest. I can’t speak for anybody but myself, but I do love a nice looking chest.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I should make a new lid. Plywood would probably be the most prudent choice, but even painted it would probably not look all that great. I have nothing against plywood, especially for case construction, but I wouldn’t want to use it anyplace where the edges would be visible. I will likely edge joint/glue two boards together to make up the width and add either bread-board ends or battens. This may give me an opportunity to possibly add a decorative paint scheme to the lid, though I still will ogee the edges, as I like that look. Either way, I will be making a new lid for my tool chest, and I will likely need to get started sooner rather than later.

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Enfield Cupbboard day 2.

I continued work on my Enfield Cupboard yesterday afternoon. I had planned on getting the face frame finished, as well as the case side arches sawn so I could glue up the carcase today. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, but I did manage to get the face frame ready to go.

I started out by laying out the mortises for the top rail. I decided to chop them out by hand because there are only two. That part went fairly quickly, but the poplar I’m working with is stringy, and it wasn’t easy to get the mortises cleaned out. I then made the tenons on the rail by using the table saw jig I built a few weeks back. It worked well, but I did have to wax the runners of both the jig and the table saw fence to get it to slide more freely. Before I go on I will admit that I hate making mortise and tenon joints. Firstly, I’ll say that I’m not all that great at fitting them from the get go, and I always have to spend the extra time getting them fit properly. In this case it was about 15 minutes of added work with a router plane. I would much rather make ship lap joints, which I’m good at and are much of the time just as strong. In any event, it was finished and I moved on to sawing the arches at the bottom of the stiles.

Mortises laid out

Mortises laid out

Mortises chopped

Mortises chopped

To lay out the arches on the stiles I followed the measurements on the original Enfield plan. I marked some guidelines, and used a French curve to draw the arch. I sawed the first arch with a jigsaw, used it to mark the second arch, and did the same. I then clamped both together and cleaned up the cut with a spokeshave and some light sanding. Before I glued up the face frame I planed the edges, just a few passes, with a smooth plane and gave it a very light sanding. I then glued it, clamped it, and let it dry overnight. Today, I hope to get the case sides finished, though I’m not necessarily sure about gluing it up yet. It’s quite cold right now, and the temperature isn’t expected to rise much above freezing. The case is too large to bring inside to dry, so I’m going to play it by ear.

Face frame fit

Face frame fit

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On another note, last winter I built a Dutch Tool Chest. I felt it would be both useful and fun to build. It does a nice job of holding tools, but I have to say that it is really getting on my last nerve. What is the problem? I have nowhere to put it. The chest always seems to be in the way, and I’m constantly moving it whenever I woodwork. Considering that the chest weighs around 120 lbs, this part isn’t fun. One solution I’ve seen is to attach a French cleat and hang it on the wall, which I might do, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose? It is too deep to be a wall cabinet, at least in my garage, and too large to be unobtrusive on the floor. If I had the time and money, I would make a proper wall cabinet for tools and be done with it. Live and learn I guess.

****once again, sorry for the lack of photos. My charming little photographer wasn’t home again****

Dutch Tool Box, A Reflection…

When I completed my tool box project a few weeks ago I posted some pictures on Lumberjocks. One of the commenters mentioned that while the box looks great for transporting a decent amount of tools, it didn’t seem as good a solution for a home woodworker to keep his or her tools stored and ready to use. I would have to say that I agreed with his opinion. If I were a woodworker with a larger garage or dedicated workshop, and I also had a larger set of tools, The Dutch tool box probably wouldn’t be the way to go as far as a permanent tool storage solution. I personally believe there are much better methods for the home woodworker to store stuff. If my garage were bigger and set up a little differently, I would think that a wall mounted rack or stand alone tool cabinet would be the best way to go about keeping my tools stored yet well organized and close at hand. Some people prefer tool chests, and while they look great and hold a lot of tools, I don’t think they work as well in a smaller workshop, and they also force you to either dig through them, or remove all of the tools you think you may need before hand. I think a dedicated wall rack and dare I say, a tool tray on your workbench, are much better ways to keep all of your tools nearby yet out of the way. So why build a Dutch Tool Box?

Firstly, the box was fun to make. It uses dado, dovetail, tongue and groove, and nailed joints, so if you are looking to practice your joinery and still make something worthwhile it is a good project to start with. You can also make the tool box with power tools, hand tools, or a combination of both. It’s also fairly easy to build, and if you aren’t as good at sawing dovetails as you would like, you can either use the box as practice, or make the case itself using only dado and nail joinery, which would be nearly as strong and somewhat easier to put together. It holds a nice amount of tools; nearly every hand tool I own is in mine except for a some of my hand saws, and if you don’t have an overly large tool set(and don’t plan on any massive expansion) it will probably be all that you need for most of your basic hand tool storage for a long time. Another good thing is that the tool box is easy to modify, and you don’t need to follow any strict plans. It is easy to take the basic layout of this box and customize it to whatever you want. With all that being said, would I build another, or recommend another woodworker making one?

There are a few things I would change; I would have made mine a little wider, around 3 inches or so. The height and depth are fine. I also would change the way the lid sits. The most difficult part of the construction is attaching the lid flush to the angled back. I had thought about squaring off the back and attaching the lid to the level section, but that little overhang would have possibly interfered with removing chisels from the rack. Once the case was already assembled, I didn’t want to take a chance and end up making a huge mistake. If I ever build another one, I will incorporate the new lid into the design. I changed the depth of the front compartment, making it around two inches deeper than the original plan in Popular Woodworking, and I’m glad that I did, as the added depth allowed me to put my gouge chisel and files in the tool rack. Had the depth been shortened, the chisel rack would have been less useful. I also used decorative cut nails to fasten the front panel, as well as reinforcing the dado joints for the shelf. I think the nails look great, and to pat myself on the back a little, mine is the only Dutch tool box I’ve seen with that feature. The bottom compartment is a little shallower than the plans call for, yet it has not interfered with anything I’ve tried to put in there. I had some reservations about the weight when the box is fully loaded. I put it on a bathroom scale and it came in at just under 112 lbs without any of my joinery saws. I have no trouble picking the toolbox up and moving it where I want, though I wouldn’t want to carry it up and down a staircase all day.

So all in all I’m glad I made the tool box. It was fun to build and offered a little bit of a challenge without being overly difficult. The box is small enough to keep out of the way and not take up too much space, yet large enough to hold nearly all of my hand tools. I think it is a good project for a new to intermediate level woodworker. If you have nice sized garage, or a dedicated workshop, I would again recommend making a wall mounted tool rack right above your bench, or a stand alone tall cabinet that you can keep nearby. Either one of those does a great job of tool storage, and will have enough room so you never outgrow them. For the smaller work shop, this tool box is a good choice, and if you take woodworking classes it is a nice way to transport your tools as well as show off your handy work a little. So I say if you are thinking about building a Dutch Tool Box then go for it. Even if you don’t plan on using it you can always give it away as a gift, or you could just go to Sears and buy one of their roll around tool carts. I have one and I love it.

Dutch Tool Box

Dutch Tool Box

Tools in their place

Tools in their place

It’s finally %*@#&% finished!

Just around two weeks ago I got sick; I don’t like being sick. I missed a week of work and generally felt like death warmed over. In the meanwhile, our frigid winter has continued and with it we’ve gotten lots of snow. In fact, in just over a weeks time we’ve gotten more than 3 feet. It has not been a friendly environment for woodworking. I still do not feel great, my garage is freezing, and even when I’ve managed to feel somewhat normal I’ve not had a place to woodwork. The main problem right now is the snow. My wife is parked in the garage, and I am parked in the driveway. My street has 5 feet of snow piled on either side and my little town more resembles Alaska rather than Pennsylvania. But today I caught a bit of a break. I had off from work and my wife did not, and that meant that I had a place to park along with an empty garage. So at long last I had the space and an hour of free time to get my Dutch Tool Box put back together.

In essence, this project was finished more than two weeks ago. Just before I got really sick, I took it apart and painted it. So all I really did this morning was put it all back together. I did end up adding an ogee to the lid, and for the record the lid still is not attached, but that is only because I decided on another coat of paint for added protection, which I did just a few hours ago. Other than that, I attached the handles and bottom cleats, and added my own little personal touch to the chest.

My logo!

My logo!

I had been on the lookout for a decorative touch to add to the front panel of the tool box. While the cut nails do a little to break up the flat black paint, it still is somewhat boring. I had many ideas, from inlaying a coin, to a flag, to Captain America’s shield, but I couldn’t find a suitable item that would fit the bill. Just as I was about to give up, I looked into having something made, and discovered a web site: plaquemaker.com. I only needed to submit a design/drawing and they could convert it to a plaque sized to my choice. So I decided to submit my own design/logo rather than using a pre-made image, and I felt that “The Slightly Confused Woodworker” was as good a choice as any for my tool box. The company was easy to deal with, the plaque was inexpensive, and they also keep the image on file for future ordering, so If I like I can install my “logo” on future projects.

So now that this project is finished I’m not sure what is up next. I want to make a blanket chest for my wife, and I also want to make some new tools, and while I’m at it a new workbench might be on the horizon. But for now I am not doing anything. I still don’t feel all that great, there is still a massive amount of snow on the ground, and the cold weather is not expected to break any time soon. I don’t want to make any decisions until I feel better, and maybe more importantly, until I actually have a place to woodwork. At that, this winter cannot end soon enough, because until it does I will not start another woodworking project.

Tool box ready to go (the lid was still drying as of the publishing of this post)

Tool box ready to go (the lid was still drying as of the publishing of this post)

Paint Job

The super bowl, the flu, and the impending doom of nearly a foot of snow didn’t stop me from hitting the garage yesterday morning to get my Dutch Toolbox painted. Before I go any further, I have to be forthright and admit that I sold out. Saturday afternoon I went to the craft store with the intention of picking up some cobalt blue paint for the chest. Unfortunately for me, they only had that particular color in the small sizes, and when I say small I mean the size you may see in the pencil box of a kindergarten student. In the “adult” sizes the color choices were much more limited, so rather than compromise with a blue that I didn’t like I went with the old stand-by; black. I’m not happy with the black to be honest. It looks fine, and I’m sure it will hold up just fine as well, but it’s been done before so many times that I wanted to try something different. In fact, I nearly left the store, but my wife pointed out that yesterday (Sunday) was going to be the last somewhat decent day we are expecting for the next few weeks, and if I didn’t pick up the paint, it would be weeks before I had another chance. Besides that, I do have something that I believe will set the box apart and make it special (at least to me), but I don’t want to say anymore until I know for certain.

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The only thing I have to report on the paint job is the fact that there is nothing to report. The paint went on easily enough and left a satisfactory chalky/matte finish. In fact, I had planned on adding two coats but after the first coat dried I only needed to do some touching up to get the look I wanted. All in all it took less than an hour to paint the whole chest. After the paint was dry I installed the cut nails and the corner brackets to protect the bottom of the chest. The only thing left to do now is reattach the lid, handles, and bottom cleats and this chest will be officially finished.

painted, with nails installed

painted, with nails installed

Front cover installed

Front cover installed

The only thing left now to do is decide on my next project. My wife wants a blanket chest that will fit in the living room. I can handle that, but with this never-ending winter in full swing I may wait for warmer weather to get started. In the meanwhile, I’m thinking of making a few hand tools, perhaps a brass hammer and a shoulder plane. I haven’t decided as of yet. I’ve been under the weather for weeks now, and I don’t want to make any decisions until I feel like myself again, and until this long winter finally is over.

I found my finish.

Being a parent isn’t easy sometimes. I don’t need to tell anybody that; I’m just reaffirming it. I can live with the whining, and the Disney Channel, and the One Direction CD, but I don’t like clutter or messes. Unfortunately for me, my daughter has a lot of stuff and if my wife and I don’t keep it under control it ends up in the four corners of our house, and that tends to get me upset. So last night I was doing a little cleaning and organizing and came upon a tool box I made to carry my daughters craft paints and found something interesting.

The other day I had mentioned my finishing of the Dutch Tool Box and the need to find a suitable paint for it. A few commenters made some good suggestions, one being a company called DecorArt, Americana Décor. I was intrigued enough to check out the company web page and found that I liked the chalky finish and “old fashioned” colors that were available. I also noticed that I could order the paint directly from the web page. Just as I was about to place the order my wife happened to point out that the very paint I was about to order was in the toolbox I had just put away. So I brought a small container into my garage and painted a scrap board…and it turned out nicely ( I tried to take a photo but it wouldn’t turn out). I asked my wife where she got the paints and it turned out to be a local craft store, A.C. Moore, which is just a ten minute drive from where I live. Being a thorough guy, I even checked the AC Moore web page and found that they do stock the color I wanted in larger containers. I was genuinely excited over paint!

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So after a little running around today we are going to stop at the craft store and pick up the paint needed to finish my tool box. Even better news is the fact that while it still isn’t warm outside and won’t be for a while, the temperatures expected today and tomorrow are at least seasonable and not arctic. There is a real possibility that my tool box will be painted this weekend and I can finally install the hardware, cleats, and cut nails that will finish this thing up. I was expecting to wait at least another week. My wife reminded me that if it weren’t for my daughter and all of her “stuff” that I wouldn’t have been able to sample the paint, and I also would probably never have set foot in a craft store. With that, a few helpful comments on my post, my wife, and my daughter’s stuff brought me some good luck last night. All in all, I’m really glad I got my wife pregnant eight years ago.

Dutch Tool Box Finished.

Yesterday morning I completed the construction phase of the Dutch Tool Box I started a few weeks back. I didn’t have much left to do: cut and fit the front panel, and attach the lid. While the work I completed yesterday didn’t take a long time, it was somewhat frustrating.

The first thing I did was make cut the front panel to length and width, and then size it to fit. I cut the width a bit oversized and then used the jointer plane to get a nice fit. After it was jointed I did take a couple of passes with the smooth plane just to make it look pretty. I then used a scrap piece of oak to make the catches that would hold the sliding lock and keep the panel in place, which for some odd reason Christopher Schwarz calls ‘bits’ in the magazine article. Anyway, I measured and cut the kerfs with a hand saw, but rather than chisel out the waste, I used the table saw to nibble away at it. I installed one, made sure the fit was correct, and installed the other. The last thing I did to the front panel was install two cleats which act as hinges to help keep the panel flush. Once I installed them and attached the front panel, it seemed that they made the top pull away a little. Before the cleats were installed, the panel sat nice and flush, after, it seemed loose. I’m undecided on keeping them and fooling around with them until the fit is correct, or just removing them completely. The front panel is less than 7 inches wide, so I don’t believe it will need the cleats to cut down on warp. Last thing I did was chamfer the top of the front panel with a block plane just to ease the edge.

Planed to fit.

Planed to fit.

Why are these called 'bits'?

Why are these called ‘bits’?

Front sliding lock fits.

Front sliding lock fits.

Chamfering the cleats

Chamfering the cleats

The next and last task was to finish the lid. I had already cut the lid to size last week, so I only needed to install the hinges to get it finished, which is easier said than done. Installing hinges on a flat chest is fairly easy, but the angled lid makes it somewhat trickier for this box. First thing to do was saw the mortise to set the hinge in, which was the easiest part of the job; the tools used were a marking knife. a carcase saw, a chisel, and a router plane. That portion was finished quickly, but actually getting the hinges on was a lot of trial and error, about an hours worth actually. I used everything from clamps to blue painters tape (which I don’t recommend). In the end, I still haven’t found a simple solution. To compound the frustration, it turned out that one of my hinges was bent. I did my best to straighten it out with a hammer, but I still couldn’t get it perfectly flat. Nonetheless, I got the hinges installed, and of course the side with the bent hinge does not sit perfectly flush like the other. There is little I can do about it for now, and the only way to fix it properly would be to purchase new hinges and make a new lid. If I do go that route, I will install the hinges on the lid first and fit it from there, rather than the opposite.

Kerfs sawn in the mortise

Kerfs sawn in the mortise

Hinges installed, the right side is the bent one. You can also see where the front panel is pulled away.

Hinges installed, the right side is the bent one. You can also see where the front panel is pulled away.

Finished box

Finished box

The only things left to do are give the box a final sanding and then paint it, after which I can install the cut nails. As far as the tool rack is concerned, I have all the pieces cut, but I ran out of time when it came to assembling them. I may install a latch on the front, but I’m not sure yet. But just in case I made the lid with very little overhang in the front in order to make the latch installation as easy as possible. I may also route a decorative edge on the front lid, but chamfers may do just as well. Once again, I’m still not all that sold on making shop projects. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun, but I don’t get the satisfaction out of making them that I do when I make a piece of furniture. The good news is that the materials costs were low, only around $100. I’m hoping to have it painted next weekend and then onto my next project. Once again we are in for a stretch of bitter cold weather, so anything I do probably won’t start until it warms up somewhat. In the meanwhile, I could always attempt making a tool or two.

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