Medium Tool Chest Retrospective

I didn’t keep track of how many build hours the Medium Tool Chest took, but I can’t imagine it was more than 75 (not including travel time to and from my thickness planer).  I enjoyed the making, but as you all probably know, I won’t be using the chest for my woodworking shop.  It’s just not the right size for my set of tools.

I ordered one more hinge for the top.

I ordered one more hinge for the top.

I think, though, I’ve caught the tool chest bug (slightly more manageable than the workbench bug?).  So my next tool chest will be a custom size more like to the Anarchist’s Tool Chest than the current one.

I learned quite a bit from the project, though.  Some of it is apropos of an apartment woodworking shop, and the rest is just a workbench confessional.  Here goes:

1.)  Cut Nails are awesome.  They hold well and look great.  I think my previous aversion to metal fasteners was mostly because I’d never used real nails before.  I still dislike screws, though.  Even flathead.

2.)  Hand-cut Rabbets are fun.  The tool trays are both rabbeted/glued together (because I’d had enough of dovetailing by the end).  I didn’t own a fillister plane at that point, so I ended up splitting the rabbets (just like you’d split a tenon) and then fine tuning to depth with a router plane.  End result: parallel, uniform rabbets all around.

3.)  Never skimp on flattening.  I thought the oak bottom for the lower tool tray would pull the tray carcass into wind, but I was wrong.  7/16″ oak just isn’t rigid enough to straighten out 11/16″ pine.  I should have flattened and/or thinned the tray carcass boards before joining.  As a result, the lower tray rocked, even when full of heavy tools, which took some flattening.

4.)  Measure twice – cut once.  The upper runners for the tool trays are 1/4″ shorter than they should be.  Because and only because I set my combination square wrong and didn’t check it again before ripping them down.  Sometimes we all need a reminder of the oldest woodworking adage.

5.)  I really do need a larger workbench.  The Milkman’s Workbench is great, but I made the transitional slab (with Veritas planing stop) to handle the longer stock in a (sort of) vice-less approach.  It’s worked well so far, in conjunction with a DIY moxon vise.

Like I always say: now what?


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