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Thread: Ideas wanted for wood to use on machinist tool box

  1. #1
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    Ideas wanted for wood to use on machinist tool box

    I am planning to build a machinist tool box for my son, you know, the type with graduated drawers and a removable front with a hinged top. I hope to use some mahogany he got for me (1/2 in and 5/8 in thick, 3 to 4 inch wide pieces, 1 and 2 ft long). Tool box will be something on the order of 15 inches tall, 20 inches wide, 12 inches deep. There is not enough mahogany material to build both the box and the drawers out of the material I have. I'm thinking that I would use the mahogany for the drawer fronts and then find a complementary wood to use for the box top and sides and the removable front. I will use poplar or other secondary wood for the drawer sides, backs, and bottom, as well as the interior casework. Not having worked with mahogany before, I'm not sure what other woods work well with it though. Do you guys have any favorite combinations that llok well paired together with mahogany?

    Another option might be to use mahogany for the entire exterior but resaw it to a bit under 1/4" thick and laminate it to a structural base for the box sides and top. What material would be a good substrate for this? I suppose some BB plywood would work as a substrate but not sure if I would need to laminate to both sides of it to make it stable (less prone to warping). Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Most of the wood machinist's chests I have seen in the workplace have been made of oak, if that means anything to you. But eschewing that tradition, or whatever you want to call it, I think that mahogany contrasts nicely with lighter colored woods. It tends to darken with age so if you choose something dark in color you might lose some of the contrast between the woods over time. I would think something like maple or lighter colored cherry would be nice.

    As for resawing and laminating, I don't have the experience to offer an opinion.

  3. #3
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    Hi Pat,
    At my local hardwoods dealer the Mahogany and Sapele are stacked next to each other Sapele is a bit darker but the same grain type . If you wand contrast Red Grandis has the same type of grain but pinkish in color and I understand that it takes stain well.
    Of course I prefer to use contrasting woods, just some thoughts.
    Rick

  4. #4
    Ebony --- look to Studley: https://lostartpress.com/products/virtuoso

  5. #5
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    Gerstner uses QSWO and has for many years It's the reference standard for machinists boxes.

    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Malakoff View Post
    Hi Pat,
    At my local hardwoods dealer the Mahogany and Sapele are stacked next to each other Sapele is a bit darker but the same grain type . If you wand contrast Red Grandis has the same type of grain but pinkish in color and I understand that it takes stain well.
    Of course I prefer to use contrasting woods, just some thoughts.
    Rick
    I said complementary but contrasting would be nice also. Like Matt said, one of the ideas I had in mind was maple, but that might be too light. I need to look for examples of traditional mahogany cabinets with other species, either contrasting or complementary.

  7. #7
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    Found a Gerstner tool box in mahogany. Here is link:

    http://gerstnerusa.com/restoration-and-repair
    Last edited by Pat Barry; 10-23-2017 at 8:13 PM.

  8. #8
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    Pat,

    I think that the Mahogany box looks outstanding!
    Rick

  9. #9
    Mahogany is a symbol of luxury that will not tolerate equality. I would make the whole box case of mahogany. Drawer fronts of satinwood would be acceptable if there is not enough mahogany.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    Mahogany is a symbol of luxury that will not tolerate equality. I would make the whole box case of mahogany.
    I work with it regularly. I love it. If you are going to buy more wood, I'd buy more mahogany. It will sure be beautiful. With that said, I suspect QSWO would be more durable - mahogany tends to dent and ding more easily than oak.

    Regardless, Id love to see a build thread if you're so inclined.

    Good luck Pat.
    Fred

  11. #11
    Frederick, the quality of mahogany 4/4 is lower now than what was available in '60s. The thicker stuff is still pretty good.
    The real picky guys sometimes avoid the 4/4 and resaw thicker stuff. I've got small beautiful scraps I've had since mid '60s. It can be dented but actually resists wear pretty well. Early mahogany furniture was often finished with oil ,and tool chests made of oiled mahogany are just so pleasant to use.

  12. #12
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    I've heard that Oak tannins and iron don't mix.

    I'm sure it's not an issue if it was lined like that machinists box in the post above.

    I wish I was in a position to give you some Australian Red Cedar.
    Now that would make a nice tool box.

  13. #13
    Anyone has build diagrams of the machinist tool box?

  14. #14
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    Pat, I have FWW issue on building furniture. There is a section on wood pairings. They suggest that Cherry, Curly Maple and Satinwood pair well with Mahogany.

    Mahogany, Cherry; Rich red coloring and subtle grain help these woods complement each other. Leaving the mahogany pores unfilled creates additional contrast in surface texture. An ebony or rosewood bead would enhand the paring.

    Mahogany, Curly Maple; The golden hue of the maple lights up against the reds and browns of the mahogany. The rippling curly maple figure adds further interest.

    Satinwood also contrasts well with mahogany- itís a traditional, high-style pairing.

    It also suggests that itís often nicer to have darker woods frame lighter ones.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    Mahogany is a symbol of luxury that will not tolerate equality. I would make the whole box case of mahogany. Drawer fronts of satinwood would be acceptable if there is not enough mahogany.
    I was going to say I really like the look of quarter sawn white oak, but I basically agree. That chest will be a major investment of time and effort, and if I liked mahagony better, I would seriously consider getting more so the whole chest could be made of the same material.

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