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Thread: Plans or experience building a wood tool chest

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    65

    Plans or experience building a wood tool chest

    I am fairly inexperienced but have found that practicing on my own shop cabinets, etc.. is a good way to learn (usually what NOT to do.. but that is for another day).

    I was looking at tool chests recently and am shocked by how much good chests cost. I was toying with the idea of making my own (wood) toolchest, but I have two questions:

    1) will this end up costing me more money that if I just bought the darn thing

    2) does anyone have any plans they could point me towards?

    Thanks,
    George

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Central Illinois
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    297
    What do you want to store in the chest? This could help to determine what plans to point you towards. It will also determine how much money you will spend on it.

    Mike

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    I was thinking more along the line of smaller drawers, and not too much height (gee... kinda like a most tool chests

    I am very restricted in space.. so being able to put away a lot of the measuring stuff, small tools, the $2000 worth of small tools and gadgets I don't know how to use but HAD to have, etc...

    I think most of the heavy stuff (routers, jigs and the like) will just be going in a open cubby style shelving.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Plymouth County, Massachusetts
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    If you are talking about a machinist's tool box, like a Gerstner, it would be cheaper to buy. Very labor intensive.
    Gary K.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Trinity County California
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    Smile Wood Tool Chest

    The Toolbox Book by Jim Tolpin (Taunton Press) has a series of plans in the back.

    My dad was a machinist and I always admired his Machinist's chest. Thus, as a new woodworker, guess what my first project will be. While training in a cabinet shop as an unpaid apprentice, my friend the owner reminded me that most furniture is simple a box within a larger box. And so on.

    Knowing what I wanted to make, I bought a machine called the WoodRat which makes joints such as finger joints and dovetails. You could do as well with the Leigh or Akeba jigs. As to cost of making one, if you add up the hardware prices in Lee Valley's hardware catalog, you'll easily equal the price of a Gerstner. Cutting and fitting the felt inside is what scares me.

    Gary Curtis
    northern california

  6. #6

    Machinist chest hardware & plans

    Try Woodsmith`s newest issue # 183 It`s a beautiful 17" seven drawer , turn of the century mission style .Modeled after the Union toolchest works co. of Rochester NY.The guys that set the standard in chest building.

    Here`s a link to the supplier selling the hardware kit.

    WWW.MACHINISTCHEST.COM

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    "1) will this end up costing me more money that if I just bought the darn thing."
    That depends. If you consider your time free, then you might come out on the positive side if you use a reasonably-priced cabinet hardwood for the drawer fronts and a low-cost secondary wood for the drawer sides, bottoms and other internals.

    But this assumes that you build an all-wood tool chest. If you include metal drawer slides and other hardware, it's extremely doubtful that you'll spend less than going to Sears and buying a good Craftsman metal tool chest (or to Home Depot and buy a Kobalt chest, or whatever).

    If, however, you consider your time to have some value, you may be better off purchasing a very nice, $1200 ball-bearing slide metal chest and build other things instead. It's what I did.

  8. #8
    There's a 50% off sale at FWW.
    Jim Tolpin's "The Tool Box Book" is on sale at $12.47
    http://store.taunton.com/onlinestore...in-070394.html

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    The Hartland of Michigan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Keedwell View Post
    If you are talking about a machinist's tool box, like a Gerstner, it would be cheaper to buy. Very labor intensive.
    Gary K.
    Not really. Took me a month to build mine by doing one step at a time. Even took a week or so off for vacation during the build.

    This one is from Shopnotes #49 vol 9.
    Never, under any circumstances, combine a sleeping pill, and laxative on the same night.

  10. #10
    +1 for Jim Tolpin's "The Tool Box Book"

  11. #11

    Chest plans

    Woodsmith`s news stand price is only $4.95...MC

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Rohrabacher View Post
    There's a 50% off sale at FWW.
    Jim Tolpin's "The Tool Box Book" is on sale at $12.47
    http://store.taunton.com/onlinestore...in-070394.html

    I only see a price of $24.95. Is there a coupon somewhere?

  13. #13
    I built this one from Rockler a number of years ago. Turned out very well.
    The price is right too.

    http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=464

    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Virginia
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    2,879
    George,

    Consider how you might be using the chest, and where it will go, and that will help guide your design. For instance, I made a simple chest of drawers (three up, two down) meant to sit out of the way under my workbench, riding on the two stretchers that connect the base; using it like that, a top that opened up like a blanket chest wouldn't have worked, so I didn't incorporate one.

    As an unanticipated benefit, I found that the tools I kept in the drawers, usually my better tools, avoided the rust that occasionally plagued some of the stuff out in the open.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Mid Missouri (Brazito/Henley)
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    2,761

    BUILD! Don't BUY!

    Hey George! Building a nice tool chest will be a project that give you great experience with measuring, cutting and fitting many precise parts, making small dovetails, and fine tuning so everything works!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Keedwell View Post
    If you are talking about a machinist's tool box, like a Gerstner, it would be cheaper to buy. Very labor intensive.
    Gary K.
    Money Can't BUY Everything!! There is great pleasure in spending time wisely to accomplish what can be bought for Hefty $ums! Sometimes Time is much more available than Ca$h!

    Included are some pix of a Gerstner-style chest I built from Popular Mechanics plans wayyy back in the '80s. It is white oak, with purchased hardware. The brass strap-parts were hand-made from an old door kick plate!

    Although deemed a machinist's chest, I built it for my daughter to store her oil-painting supplies! Many painters or make-up artists used these style chests to organize their stuff before the EMT/tackle box style came in vogue.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

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