Posts Tagged ‘tool chest #2’

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Lower Storage Unit – Part 4

March 3, 2015 Leave a comment

So when I decided to give the recently finished tool chest to my youngest to house her growing fossil collection I realized that I needed a stand for it. Briefly I considered using something around the house but when I saw Chris’ post on his lower chest, I was inspired to go ahead and build one for Alexandra.

Over the weekend, I felt like a furniture maker for the first time not because my skill sets are so developed or my design sensibilities so highly refined. No, I felt like a furniture maker because I began to think beyond cutting a piece to a certain length or pouring over a plan for what to do next. What I’m building is not my design to be sure, it’s inspired by the lower storage unit that Chris Schwarz blogged about for his Dutch Tool Chest. It is in fact Chris’ plan and simply adapted for my application.

Dutch Tool Lower Chest - C. Schwarz

Dutch Tool Lower Storage Unit – C. Schwarz

So with a picture of the Chris’ chest for example, I set to building.

Saturday’s Effort

Lower Storage Unit Sized for the 10 Drawer Chest

My Version of the Lower Storage Unit is Sized for the 10 Drawer Chest

I’m to a point in my journey where I want to try my hand at cutting some dovetail joints but for this project I wanted to use the same joinery (glue, screws and plugs) which I used on the upper unit.

Lower Storage for 10-Drawer Small Chest

Lower Storage for 10-Drawer Small Chest – Carcass

Cleats on the top should limit the travel of the upper chest, centering the upper unit from side-to-side. The foreground of the above picture shows the 3/4″ stock cut for the upper and lower face frame (front lips).

Sunday’s Work

On Sunday, I decided that my front lips required some detailing so I chucked up my router and cut chamfers along all the front edges. I then set about cutting the notches in the upper and lower lips that will hold the sliding lock which for my version is 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ stock. To cut the top notch I used multiple passes on my table saw using my cross-cut sled to steady the piece. The notch bottom was cleaned up with a sharp chisel and some sand paper. Cutting the stopped notch in the bottom lip was a bit more time-consuming as I chopped it out with a chisel. I attempted to saw the sides at an angle like you would do cutting half blind dove tails but I was only cutting to a depth of 1/4″ and this proved only partially helpful in defining the side walls of the notch. With a bit of patience and being careful to take my time I was able to cut a “perfect” notch. Perhaps it was this task alone that helped me realize the joy of being a passable woodworker.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about attaching the lips to the carcass. I suppose this would have been an appropriate use of biscuits had I a joiner. I do have dowels and I did consider using them but opted for a couple of small brads to keep the piece from moving around while the glue setup. You definitely want to predrill holes prior to setting your brads. Had I not done so, the brads would have never run true in the hardy oak. I didn’t mention it before but I also used some shorter brads to steady the top cleat when I glued them up on Saturday.

Front Lips Installed and Sliding Lock Fitted.

Front Lips Installed and Sliding Lock Fitted.

Notice the lips and cleats form a corner that will limit travel of the upper chest towards the front and sides. I plan to also rig up a stop for the back side but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Fall Front Panel Glue Up from 1/2" Stock.

Fall Front Panel Glue Up from 1/2″ Stock.

It was a happy accident that I happened to have majorly over bought on 1/2″ oak stock for the 10 drawer fronts. Turns out they were just what I needed for the fall front door. I used my seriously too long pipe clamps for the glue up and while the glue was drying, I made plugs and plugged the screw holes in the lower chest.

Last Task for Sunday was  Plugging Screw Holes.

Last Task for Sunday was Plugging Screw Holes.

What’s Ahead?

I need to make the fall front door. The panel is glued so it will need to be trued and cut to size and the lock and guides added to the back. The sliding lock is fit and cut to size but I want to make a finger-pull hole in the top. I’ll need to trim and flush the plugs. Lastly I’ll shape and attached a couple of trim pieces on the rear edges and add stops that have yet to be designed. The lower unit will ride on casters that will be attached after I finish this bad boy.

The height of the lower unit is about 15″ and was determined by how much was remaining once the 16″ top was cut from the 4′ length of 1″ x 12″. On casters it will be an inch or two taller.

One last thought. It isn’t lost on me that Alex won’t be able to open the lower door without removing the top chest, something that she’ll likely never do. Or, she may do it to shove stuff in there where it will be entombed for a future era. I’m OK with that. The main point of this was to build a stand for the upper unit and the fall front door was just an efficient way to get that done. Pull out drawers would actually be a more functional solution.

Hang with me, you’ve been making stuff with the Turtlecovebrewer

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Build Redux – Part 3

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Things were pretty mellow in the shop over this last weekend. Saturday was spent getting all 10 drawers working smoothly. In that vein, I was successful for 9 o of the 10. During that time I also had another chip break off where the drawer dado meets the face. I’m not exactly sure if this is one that I had glued earlier in the process but it might have been. Anyway I glued it back on and I hopeful that this time the fix will last. Having had my fill of relieving edges and smoothing drawer operation, I moved on to running the upper and lower beads on the drawer fronts. You might recall that last time I made the mistake of attaching pulls prior to this operation, so I learned to route first. Everything went very smoothly only my bench top router table is so small the drawers tended to tip off the edge unless I was very careful to hold them steady for the entire length of the face. It made for a couple of imperfections but the overall effect turned out nicely and way better than my last effort.

After beading it was on to making and attaching the drawer pulls.

And this is where my judgment just might have been clouded a bit. You see I have this tree that I collected from my neighborhood in Melrose (Turtle Cove). The tree had been taken down and the wood cut into logs and folks were basically invited to take wood so I did. Upon cutting the wood up on my band saw I found it had an interesting spalting. So I figured that I would use this spalted wood to make plugs and pulls to accent the oak. The more conservative approach would have been to use the oak dowels I had already purchased at the big box store. They would have looked nice and it would have been much quicker than making my own plugs, etc. So anyway, I had already made the plugs from this spalted wood so I endeavored to make the pulls from it. My fears were however, founded in that the wood was very spongy and “unpredictable”. Having started down the path, I continued.

Pull made from 1/2" spalted wood.

Pull made from 1/2″ spalted wood. Very rough and spongy.


Installed pulls prior to adding the superglue.

Installed pulls prior to adding the superglue.

I used my 1/2″ plug cutter and freed the pieces at the band saw. The plugs were basically impossible to sand effectively and they were almost the consistency of cork. I came up with the idea of applying some thin superglue to see if that would strengthen them a bit. I emptied one of those small tubes into a cup and added a few drops of acetone until the mixture was watery enough to brush on. I started with a disposable pipette but the liquid was very thin and ran everywhere so I opted to brush on the mixture with an acid brush. I was able to be a bit more precise using the brush.

After applying the superglue. Improvement?

After applying the superglue. Improvement? Maybe, at least a bit sturdier.

Well at least the pulls were given a bit of extra strength although they are still pretty very ugly. Perhaps I shall call them “rustic” rather than “ugly”.

Sunday was a pretty easy day. I sanded the carcass and drawers and applied the first coat of poly which I thinned with mineral spirits to wipe on.

Semi-gloss poly, thinned and brushed on then the excess was wiped off.

Semi-gloss poly, thinned and brushed on then the excess was wiped off.

On this build I decided to put one coat inside the carcass and drawers.

On this build I decided to put one coat inside the carcass and drawers.


The chest is coming along. I’ll add a couple more coats of poly to the outside and see what I can do about that one problematic drawer then call it done.

While spending a moment with Susan yesterday I asked her if she wanted to help me paint Alexandra’s book-case. You’ll recall from a previous post that I had made book boxes for Erin (they share a room) and I thought it a brilliant idea to fix and paint the remaining book shelf with the left over paint. Alex was on board with this because wanted a place to display her fossils. Somewhere in the back of my mind it occurred to me that it would be neat to make a display case for Alex’s treasures. Susan suggested that a chest like the one I’m building would be ideal to store and preserve them. Hummmm…. I could build another one….. or I could give her this one which is what I’ve decided to do. Now I have built something for each of my three girls. The only question remaining is what to do about a base for it. I could take the easy way out but I’m thinking I should build something from oak to make a matched set.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,

10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Build Redux – Part 2

February 16, 2015 Leave a comment

In spite of the fact that last Saturday was Valentines Day, I was able to get two full shop days in toward the second small tool chest build. My wife is awesome that way and she had to work on Saturday any way. In general the thesis I proposed in my last post had true and having built the unit once before I was able to work more purposefully and with greater precision than on the first attempt. That was until I got to the glue-up of the case. At that point, reason left me and for the life of me I couldn’t seem to piece together how I had used the four corner clamps to hold the work. In retrospect, I now wonder how I could not have seen it. Anyway things were a bit dicey as I figured out a new way to assemble the case using my brand new assembly squares. They were on sale and I bought two of them but should have bought four. I actually wanted to buy two 0f the mini versions but they were on back order so I held off.

Clamp-it Assembly Square

Clamp-it Assembly Square

OK, so I well realize that you can make your own version of these guys and I had “intended” on doing that for a while now and still haven’t. The two I bought were an impulse buy to be sure but I’ve already gotten my money’s work out of them. They are large, actually a bit too large for this scale of furniture but I was still able to use these two to great advantage. I used them in the case glue-up and later to glue up the drawer frames which brings me to my next new toy. The Rockler 3-in-1 Bar Gauge kit.

Rockler 3-in-1 Bar Gauge

Rockler 3-in-1 Bar Gauge

Originally I was looking to purchase a pair of trammel points for this build but I was also in the market for a functional bar gauge. I lusted after the fit and finish of the Woodpecker version but who has that much coin to blow on such a simple device? Comparing the two is like the difference between a Porsche and a Yugo but for $25 you get two sets of tips (wedge and flat) and trammel points. The tips are plastic which doesn’t exactly scream precision but the telescoping holders are made from attractive aluminum blocks. I also don’t like that the tips are held in by set screws which require a hex wrench to tighten. If the tips didn’t require this and were made of metal you’d have a real winner. You have to provide your own rods so I picked up a length of steel rod but I haven’t yet cut it in half so I used an oak dowel to get started.  I used it to transfer the case width to my table saw fence and was very pleased with the ease and accuracy of this way of measuring. And BTW, I also “intended” on making one of these but instead I’m happy with this purchase also.

So after two weekends in the shop this build is fairly far along. The case and drawers are complete although I have still have some fitting to do on the drawer slides as well as a piece of trim I need to fit above the top-most drawer. After I route the upper and lower beads on the drawer fronts and attach pulls the piece will be ready for finishing.

10 Drawer Small Tool Chest #2

10 Drawer Small Tool Chest #2

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.


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10-Drawer Small Tool Chest – Build Redux

February 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Don’t be hatin’ but I’ve decided to build another 10-drawer small tool chest. When the decision was made to give the first one as a gift, I had it in the back of my mind that I just might build another one and consequently I made sure to keep all my notes, story sticks and templates which I had assembled in the process. These tools along with the experience of having made it once, have proven to be of great help. Rather than documenting the build again I’m going to jot down a few of my observations.

Build it more than Once

One of the Shop Talk Live “favorite techniques of all time, for this week” was to build it more than once. There was also a discussion regarding the benefits of building a prototype/life-sized mock-ups. I can definitely see the benefits of mock-ups which if made correctly can be used as templates and if made “incorrectly” provide valuable information on what to fix before building the real thing. In the old days, models were often used to work out some of the bugs and they can be useful but most of use now build our models on the computer using SketchUp. The beauty in this is obvious, speed of development, ability to scale adjust and tweak the design and to have plans when the time comes to build it. As an exercise, I put this tool chest plan in SketchUp and although I haven’t had need to refer to it, I think doing so helped me solidify the design.


I consciously preserved the simple templates which were used in the first build. One such item was a hardboard shim with several wraps of duct tape around it. This shim plus the width of the saw blade allowed me to cut the dado required for the drawer slides in three passes of the blade. To this I added a new trick, I cut two  1-7/8″ spacers to represent the drawer height. Instead of lining up the cut each time to the blade and setting the stop block, I simply used the spacer to “advance” the work-piece and then relocated the stop block to the work-piece. One of the sides had layout lines for each of the ten drawers (Note: both the drawer and dado slot where marked). I didn’t trust myself to cut blindly so I used the reference marks to keep me honest but used the spacer for accuracy and consistency. After cutting a slot on the marked piece I relied on the stop block to cut blindly on the second. I was pretty confident in the system but ONLY after testing it on a piece of scrap before making the first. Failure to have tested and worked out the bugs would have resulted in disaster. I also used the test cuts to tweak the width of the dado before cutting for real.

Previous Mistakes

It sure helps to remember your previous mistakes and if wise to devise new strategies to prevent repeating them. The drawer spacer was one such example which will (hopefully) make my drawers much more consistent in their size. Individually cutting and fitting the 10 drawers was painful last time because the dados were somewhat inconsistent. I am hopeful this will speed the cutting and fitting drawers this time.

On the last build I spend a lot of time laying out the sides. I suppose I could have printed a full-sized template out of SketchUp, that would have really been nice. The experience of the first build helped keep me on track this time. On both occasions I started at the top and marked in the direction toward the bottom. After the first such attempt this weekend I saw the error in this. Starting at the bottom allowed me to layout all the essential components which included the cutout for the feet, the panel for the case bottom, the drawers, and case top. Whatever was left-over would form the non-critical decorative arcs. The drawers were quickly laid out by leap frogging them up the side panel making this work quick and accurate.

Revised Methods

I had some trouble getting the drawers to side smoothly on the first build. The dados were actually too small for 1/4″ chisel or router blade and I didn’t become aware of the issue in earnest until after the carcass had been glued up. This time I wanted to do a better job so I found a piece of 1/8″ hardboard and used it as a sanding block. I kept working each dado until the drawer bottom scrap piece moved smoothly trough the entire length. A couple of the grooves needed work and it was good to have caught it before case assembly.

The first time through, I cut the center arch out of an oak board and THEN glued it to the plywood back. This made cutting the arc using the band saw a simple process but it did make clamping the arch to the plywood panel more challenging. Last time I accomplished this by using the arch cut-offs as a clamping caul. This time I glued the oak board onto the plywood first which made clamping easy.  It also allowed me to hold the back panel up to the side panels and make adjustments to the center arc before cutting it. On the first build the arcs were a best guess based on the plans and a make-shift trammel I cobbled together. This time I had printed a template out of SketchUp from the model which saved a lot of time and guessing although I am kind of sad I didn’t get to test out my brand new trammel setup from Rockler. (Actually not true trammel points rather the Rockler 3-in-1 Bar Guage kit which can be setup as a trammel). Instead of cutting the (now large) panel on the band saw I used my jig saw and faired the curve on the belt sander.

On a similar theme, the plywood case bottom has a 3/8″x 3/4″ oak strip glued to the front. Rather than guessing the exact final thickness of the strip, I cut the bottom slightly over-sized. Once the strip was set, I used the oak top panel to precisely mark and cut the bottom to proper size.

There are two main points here I think. First thinking a couple of steps ahead in the process can save a lot a trouble down the road. For example gluing the oak top piece on before cutting saved trouble both clamping and setting final dimensions. Second having built previously built a piece provides much useful feedback both for what worked and what didn’t on the previous go.

Planing Ahead

I made a few mistakes regarding the pulls last build. Perhaps they weren’t mistakes per se but they were decisions that I’d like to improve on this time round. I didn’t make my own redheart pulls from plugs rather I opted to cut lengths of poplar dowels. The dowel I selected was smaller than the 1/2″ diameter pulls used in the plans. This made fitting a dowel a bit more of a challenge. The plans have a nice jig used on the drill press so a centered hole can be drilled to accept the dowel but mine was off-center. As I installed each knob, I rotated them until they were centered on the drawer front and lowest from the mid-line. This time I plan on using larger pulls and getting the holes centered before proceeding. My plan is to drill a 1/2″ recess in a piece of scrap using a Forstner bit, where the center point pokes through represents the center of the dowel. I can then insert a dowel in the recess and mark the center from the backside. Or better yet, I’ll drill a 1/2″ recess in a  clamped piece of scrap on the drill press. I’ll then change the bit for the dowel and adjust the stop to the proper depth. I can then use the recess to hold the 1/2″ pull while drilling the center hole for the dowel. I’m not trying to make it complicated but last time I couldn’t find the center of the dowel to make the simpler jig used. After my trip tool hunting at Christmas I now have a center finder attachment that would probably work also.

One of the more onerous mistakes I made in the last build was to install the knobs before routing the upper and lower beads on the drawer fronts. The knobs interfered with the bit causing sloppy work and the requirement to hand carve the bead surrounding the knobs. The problem was so worrisome that I considered sawing off the knobs and starting over. I would have done so if I though I could have done a clean job but I was concerned that I might dig a deeper hole if I started down that path. Ugh, won’t do that this time route first, then attach.

Tool Chest Redux

Tool Chest Redux – let’s make another one

You have been reading shop notes of the Turtlecovebrewer

Categories: Woodworking Tags: ,