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Cherry till with leather lined bottom and maple dowels.

Cherry till with leather lined bottom and maple dowels.

In this sixth installment of the toolchest build I finish off the till. The till nestles in the top of the toolchest and is the place to store lay out tools, chisels and a small mallet. The till is a dovetailed box with two dowels sandwiched between the side walls to serve as handles. This makes picking up the till easier when it’s in the chest. For this version, I thought I’d elevate the design a little and cover the bottom panel with a high quality leather. This will add an aesthetic embellishment to the till but also help protect the tools inside.

The video begins with sawing the ‘horns’ on the ends of the two outside walls of the till. These horns will rest on cleats fit inside the chest later on. The horns need to be laid out and the area sawn away before the pin side of the dovetails can be transferred over. Following the horns, the pins are scribed and the dovetails are complete.

You’ll notice I use my winding stick to prop up the end of the tail board when transferring the tails onto the pin board. Another small detail and ‘trick’ that makes lining-up the parts easier, I use a small shim and place it in the bottom grooves on both pieces- this makes lining the pieces fool proof !

The holes for the dowels are drilled using a Forstner bit in my brace. My standard auger bits have long, lead screws and would no doubt puncture through the side walls before I reached the required depth. The Forstner bits are slower but safer for a stopped hole in thin sidewalls!

Once the holes are complete, the maple dowel is cut to length and the edges on the components are cleaned up with a block plane. The corners are rounded as this will be ‘in hand’ often and sharp edges aren’t friendly to the touch.

The till is glued using liquid hide glue and Old Brown Glue is my first choice. If the till didn’t have dovetail joinery I would use hot hide glue but the dovetails require a longer open time and the OBG fits the bill.

I let the glue dry over night and then plane the dovetails flush in the morning. The ends of the till, due to the horns at the top, make planing a little trickier. I use my skew block plane without its fence. This allows me to work right up to the bottom of the horn much like a rabbet plane would. I make sure the nicker, used for cross grain work, is out of the way and not engaging the work.

Once the dovetails are flush, I do a final clean up and apply the hand rubbed, oil finish. The finish is an oil/varnish blend I use for 75% of my work. Tried and True- a reliable product and again my go-to finish especially for ‘work shop furniture.’



Here are some links to a few of the products used in this video:

4″ Precision Double Square

Striking Knife

Veritas Block Plane

Veritas Skew Block Plane

Old Brown Glue

Tried and True