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A Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest part one

A Cabinetmaker's Toolchest

A Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest

I was recently asked by a gentleman in the USA if I would build him a toolchest- more specifically, a ‘cabinetmaker’s toolchest’.

If you know my first book, ‘Made by Hand- Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop‘ you’ll remember that this is the first project from it. I’m excited to revisit the design and pleased to share this first video with you.

This version of the tool chest will be made with some cherry I’ve had in my shop for a few years. I’ve been waiting for the right project to use it on and this fit the bill just right. The plank is large enough to get the full carcase panels out of without any edge joints and I’ll be able to run the grain continuously around the box. (assuming I don’t screw it up!)

I’m using flat sawn cherry for the main carcase and quarter sawn stock for the handles and frames etc…it’ll be nice to see this project in an alternate wood species as the first time around I used maple and walnut.

The nice thing about this design is portability. It’s large enough to carry all of your hand tool ‘essentials’ while light enough to carry¬† by yourself.¬† I made my first version of the toolchest in 2008 and have toted it from job site to job site over the last 5 years.

If you’re interested in commissioning your own version of this tool chest then drop me a line; I’d be happy to make one for you!

With that, here’s the first video installment of the project- rough sawing the plank and dimensioning the stock.





  1. Posted by Dan McKenzie on Jan 22nd, 2013

    Interesting saw bench!

  2. Posted by stephen melhuish on Jan 22nd, 2013

    Tom, loving that music…funky stuff.

    A general question here Tom, not necessarily about this new project but perhaps because you’re right at the first stages of dimensioning, i just wondered for you what’s the most important part of any project?…of course i know for myself there are many, but i just wondered if you could put your finger right on the crucial bits for you?….too basic a question perhaps, but thought i’d raise it anyway.

    Nice to see you working on a live commission, always exciting.

  3. Posted by Jason on Jan 22nd, 2013

    Hi Tom:

    Great timing! I am getting ready to start this project in cherry as well. It will have spalted maple as the accent wood. I want to make mine a few inches longer to hold a sash saw instead of a carcass saw.

    And I want to thank you. A few years ago, I was looking for a way to express my artistic side, but found most woodworking books spoke in terms of production and power tools. Your book was just what I was looking for and I have been going strong ever since. Thanks for the inspiration.


  4. Posted by David Gendron on Jan 23rd, 2013

    It will be a nice one to follow! Thank you againTom for taking the time!

  5. Posted by tom on Jan 23rd, 2013

    Thanks for the comments everyone-

    Dan, the sawbench is the first project in my next book and after a year and a half of use and abuse – I can honestly say it rocks! The variations I made to the original English form are very useful and make a world of difference.

    Stephen- most important part of any project? I’d have to say that stock selection is pretty high on the list; if you start with shoddy material you’re not doing yourself any favors.

    Jason- good to hear you’ll be building a toolchest as well- it’s a fun project and very adaptable to custom changes.

    David- thanks again!

  6. Posted by Justin on Jan 23rd, 2013

    Tom, What type of plane are using to smooth the face of the panel in your video? Is it a jack plane? I also really like the music!

  7. Posted by tom on Jan 23rd, 2013


    that’s the Veritas low angle Jack- my work horse here in the shop. It’s a great tool.
    thanks for the comments on the music. Just a little something I whipped up~; )


  8. Posted by Charlton on Jan 23rd, 2013


    What’s that thing in the corner of your shop behind the bench? Is it a lathe of some kind? Did you build it yourself and is it human powered? :)


  9. Posted by tom on Jan 23rd, 2013

    that is indeed a lathe and it is human powered!
    I didn’t build it but purchased it from CME Handworks Inc.


  10. Posted by Charlton on Jan 23rd, 2013

    Thanks. I searched and actually found that you posted about CME a couple of years ago. Thanks! :)

  11. Posted by Tyler on Jan 27th, 2013

    Tom, I like the plane you are using with your shooting board, who makes it? Thanks for the great posts!

  12. Posted by tom on Jan 27th, 2013

    Hey Tyler,
    thanks for the question. It’s the Lie Nielsen Iron Miter plane based on the original Stanley No. 9. It’s a wonderful plane to use on the shooting board due to the large sides and ‘hot dog’ attachment for the handle.

  13. Posted by Adam on Feb 18th, 2013

    Tom, Is that a cutting mat you’re using to cover your bench during your chiseling? If so, (or not for that matter) can you tell me a little bit more about it?


  14. Posted by tom on Feb 19th, 2013

    Hey Adam, thanks for the question. It’s a ‘self-healing’ mat I picked up at my local art supplier. It would work for protecting your bench but in my case, I’m actually using it to protect the work! My bench is, ( as you may have noticed ) full of scars and blemishes from hand work. I was never one to ‘baby’ my work bench. It is a work bench after all!

    The mats are great for chopping as well as veneer work, leather, paper etc…

    hope that helps!

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