This guest-post is by my newest oldest daughter, N.
For Christmas I was given several nice tools and all I had to put them in was a majestic plastic purple crate.
Okay, so a crate in the corner of my room isn’t exactly a majestic place to keep tools, and my dad knew that, so he told me my project was going to be to make a tool chest. He pointed to his (giant) collection of Popular Woodworking magazines, a copy of The Anarchist’s Tool Chest, and various other tool chest guides, and told me to pick one I liked. As an amateur woodworker—and by “amateur” I mean I could work a spokeshave and occasionally saw a seemingly-straight line—I had to be realistic about my skill set as well as conscious of how much space I really needed to have. And after researching, I decided on a Dutch tool chest. (We followed Chris Schwarz’s plans from a Popular Woodworking article.) I began practicing sawing straight lines and making dovetails, and although I was nowhere near what I considered to be capable of building a tool chest, we began working on it over Spring Break.
The first step was cutting the sideboards and baseboard to size. I was scared to cut the diagonal line so I let Papa do it, then we cut a dado for the shelf, and after that, it was my turn to make my first set of real dovetails that would have to hold the weight of the entire chest…no pressure or anything. My first few attempts at dovetails prior to the tool chest were on scrap pieces and they did not turn out too incredibly well, but I must admit that I was relatively pleased with how they turned out on the chest, and even more pleased to know that my joinery skills were not quite hopeless. When we pieced it together, we only had to use three shims along the bottom!
We then made a quick sprung joint to edge-glue the two pieces for the lid together, and while that dried, we worked on the tongue-and-groove joints for the back panels.
I cut the panels to length, and cut them straight while wearing a golf skirt! (I was about to leave for the driving range with a friend.) It was quite a victory and I learned that the saw benches are my best friends. However, I ended up letting Papa do the actual tongue-and-groove joinery because I’m left-handed and struggled using a right-handed plow plane. I nailed the boards into place on the back, and cut the boards for the front and the door for the bottom shelf. The design in the magazine showed a drop-front for the bottom shelf, but I knew I couldn’t do that on my own, so I just used hinges and a latch.
Papa attached the top lid with hinges while I drilled holes for screws in the handles, and then it was ready for tools.
But I wanted to decorate it a little. I painted a Gothic-style “S” on the top of the lid and painted the base of the handles black to match, and after a few coats of lacquer, it was done!
The chest ended up looking beautiful, and I can now say that I can cut a straight line, successfully operate planes (the tools not the aircrafts), and make functional joints.
A very special thanks to my dad for all of his help and patience, and to the people on WoodNet who sent more tools to fill my new chest!