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A Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest part thirteen

backsaw holder with magnets.

What a difference seven days can make.

About this time last week, on Tuesday the 26th, we celebrated my wife’s birthday.

It had been a ‘Mama needs new shoes‘ kind of weekend so we were all still recovering a little from the Sunday afternoon, fashion district on the west side of Toronto, hangover.

By Tuesday evening, we had a quiet supper with family, a small cake from a local bakery, and we’re all the better for it.

A good night sleep with a hint of warmer Spring time weather on the winds.

On Wednesday, we woke to find it a little colder than the weather man had predicted.

Late that evening I received word that a good friend, and fellow musician, passed away suddenly in his hotel room.

Jay Smith was still under legal drinking age when I started playing with Sunfish, some twenty or more years ago on Cape Breton Island. He once told me that he used to sit outside the clubs and listen to all of the Sydney Sunfish shows. Every time I remember meeting him I remember smiling. He would always have positive things to say with an instant sense of humor that came across his crooked little smile.-; )

Jays guitars on stage in Halifax.

Jays guitars on stage in Halifax.

Years later, whenever Sunfish would get together again, to play an occasional show, Jay would be there, to share the stage with us. The fourth member of the band, in effect making the whole, playing guitar, note for note on every tune we had ever written and to be honest, playing those tunes better than I ever did!

Another decade seemed to go by and I released my album, ‘a boy called fish‘.

I played a few shows in Halifax where Jay had been living at the time and once again, Jay was there, playing all the right notes along the way,  sharing the stage and I was better for it.

He is missed by many, especially his two children.


and that was Wednesday.



1971 Vintage Port

1971 Vintage Port

By Friday, the holiday was here in Toronto with a very welcome long weekend.

The chocolate bunny eggs, the family, the food and the gathering was plenty and good for the soul!

It was all in good timing as I had been anxiously waiting for a gathering with a few good friends and a bottle that was somehow missed a year and a half ago on my 40th.

We cracked a 1971, Metala Vintage, Australian Port.

It was a very good year indeed.

At any rate, seven days can certainly carry you away and then back again, to ‘ol lucky thirteen, the final installment of the Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest series that I meant to post a week ago when life somehow, got in the way.

Well, what can I say?

The screws up through the bottom hold the feet in place and thus reenforce the handle.

They’re silicon bronze and I’ve been using them in boat building for a decade. They’re an ideal choice for this toolchest application and available at any decent chandlery.

The saw holders on the back panel of the carcase are shaped to fit inside two backsaw totes, with long flat brackets that carry Rare Earth magnets. The magnets attract the saw plate and hold them in place on the toolchest back.

All of these tool storage components are attached with screws for ease of removal and are highly subjective to the things you’ll be carrying in your own chest.

I hope this series has been both educational and inspirational, if you have other questions on the toolchest project, pick up a copy of my book, Made by Hand. It’ll be helpful when you build your own tool chest.


Cheers to another Tuesday-

make everyday a master piece.



  1. Posted by stephen melhuish on Apr 2nd, 2013


    the ups and the downs of life….always make the most of the time we all have. Sorry indeed to hear of Jays passing.

    …..Well done on completing the toolchest.

  2. Posted by Jason MacDonald on Apr 2nd, 2013

    The final tool chest is a beautiful thing. I have been following the build since the first video, and have checked daily, anxiously awaiting the next installment. You make it look so easy and effortless, but I know from my own feeble attempts how difficult a lot of the tasks you do really are. Thank you for keeping hand woodworking alive and well, your site is the reason I began using hand tools in the first place.


    PS I am sorry to hear of your friend passing.

  3. Posted by Jozef Babjak on Apr 3rd, 2013


    It’s really nice. Please, make one video showing the toolchest with all tools later when filled up. :-)

    It seems to be very robust in construction, so my question is how much does it weight empty? And with tools?


  4. Posted by tom on Apr 3rd, 2013

    thanks for the comments. I hope the person I made the toolchest for will send pics once he puts his tools inside. !!
    I have this image showing the tools I carry in my own version of this same design.
    The cherry toolchest weighs 16.4 lbs. empty- as for a weight once full ? , that all depends on the tools you put inside!
    ; )
    thanks again for the comments.

  5. Posted by tom on Apr 3rd, 2013

    Thanks Jason-

    very cool of you to say~; )

    all the best in your wood working.

  6. Posted by tom on Apr 3rd, 2013

    Thanks Steve, you’re right- you never know do you?
    enjoy the day.


  7. Posted by Michael Redmond on Apr 3rd, 2013

    Hi Tom,
    Lovely work,
    Sorry about your friend.
    What was the piece of music that was playing, it was so relaxing.

  8. Posted by tom on Apr 3rd, 2013


    thanks for the kind comment.
    The music is a piece I wrote and recorded one day last week. It’s an open ‘C’ tuning on both the electric and acoustic tracks. I messed around with some loops off the lap top as well for the drums and back ground ambiance.


  9. Posted by Stephen on Apr 3rd, 2013

    Amazing work Tom! I hope to be creating things like that someday.

  10. Posted by tom on Apr 4th, 2013

    Thanks Stephen, comments are appreciated.
    ; )

  11. Posted by SteveH on Apr 7th, 2013

    Hi Tom-

    Sorry to hear of your friends passing. It’s a hard thing to experience the loss of a friend.

    The toolchest is very impressive. Seeing you proceed fluidly from step to step gave me hope for some projects I am working on. Your dovetailing and planing were informative.

    I do have a question about how you avoid having your forstner bitr rotate in the brace. I try to tighten as best I can, but they still slip around. Is there an insert you use to interface between the bit and the brace? or a specific forstner bit with a hex shaft?

    Thanks for series,

  12. Posted by tom on Apr 9th, 2013

    thanks for the comments.
    This is a popular question. I tried to highlight my brace and bits in a previous video but to answer your question- no, nothing special at all. I don’t have any inserts and/or hex shafts on the bits. The jaws on the brace are tight enough that I haven’t had any issues with bits slipping. Sounds like the jaws on your brace may need to be replaced. All the best.

  13. Posted by john on May 7th, 2014

    Wow this is a amazing chest. One day i aspire to be as good a woodworker as you!

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