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Heirloom toolbox. This good-looking chest will likely be a pleasure to make use of and be treasured for generations to return – plus it’s a fantastic introduction to mixing hand and energy instruments within the store.

Combine energy and hand instruments to enhance your joinery abilities

Building a toolbox very like this one was an actual turning level in my woodworking profession. It was 1999 and I had begun lessons at Boston’s North Bennet Street School’s Cabinet and Furniture Making program. At the time, I used to be a fairly good carpenter and will construct plywood cupboards utilizing energy instruments, however I used to be fairly inexperienced when it got here to crafting high quality furnishings. Designing and constructing a toolbox was one among our first challenge assignments at college.

The expertise was for me far more than a challenge; it was my introduction at hand instruments and extra superior joinery. Years later, I notice simply how a lot this challenge influenced my woodworking. While constructing it, I used to be studying the concord of utilizing each energy and hand instruments.

Now, it’s one among my favourite tasks – and it’s featured in season three of my PBS tv present, “Rough Cut – Woodworking with Tommy Mac.”

If you’re new to woodworking, or haven’t realized fundamental hand-tool abilities, this challenge may have the same affect on you. Don’t fear concerning the joints being an ideal match. It’s a store challenge in any case.

Mill Your Lumber in Stages

Spring joint. A slight concave form planed onto mating surfaces of an edge joint permits you to clamp up with a single clamp throughout the middle of the panel glue-up. Aim for a middle that’s recessed about 1⁄64″.

I put together inventory in a pair periods at the least a day aside. This is supposed to attenuate wooden motion whereas additionally permitting for it. As a rule of thumb, keep away from taking greater than 14” of wooden off of the thickness of a board in a single milling. I name the primary session “rough mill” as a result of I reduce the elements out of the tough board leaving about 1″ over in size, 12” over in width and 18” over in thickness.

First, flatten one face on the jointer. Check the grain path of the wooden and look ahead to tear-out. Take off about 116” with every cross till the face is flat. Next, straighten one edge with the jointed face in opposition to the fence. Make positive the fence is 90º to the mattress of the jointer.

When the jointer work is finished, transfer to the planer and make the alternative face parallel (to keep away from tear-out, whichever finish trailed over the jointer ought to lead over the planer). Run every half by way of the planer with the jointed face down. Mill the boards to the sizes within the cutlist plus the overage described above.

Stack the elements with stickers between and align them vertically so every board is supported by the one under it. Leave the boards in a single day then repeat the milling course of to deliver the boards to ultimate dimensions. Note that some elements, such because the case divider fronts, have to be fitted to the field somewhat than reduce to dimensions now. After the second milling, take away any mill marks by skimming all surfaces with a handplane. Take gentle cuts to keep away from altering the thickness or taking it out of sq..

Spring Joints for Glue-ups

Pin spacing. To get dovetail pins spaced equally, stroll the compass throughout the work and make changes till the spacing is excellent.

The wider exterior case elements needs to be glued up from narrower boards; a full-width board could cup over time. Before edge-gluing, clamp every mating pair of boards head to head and handplane the perimeters to “spring” the joint. Take a brief cross alongside the center of the perimeters, then one other alongside extra of the size and a ultimate cross alongside the complete size. The boards’ jointed edges ought to contact at each ends with a tiny hole within the center, about 164“.

Glue up the boards beginning with a single clamp within the center. Add extra clamps if vital. After the glue has dried, clear up any extra and trim the elements to ultimate width and size.


Start by laying out the pins on the ends of the case facet boards. Set a marking gauge to the thickness of the case elements and mark across the faces and edges at each ends of every board. Then, lay out the pins on the ends of a facet board. Start by measuring and marking 316 from every edge. Then use a compass or dividers to make seven equal divisions between the 316 marks you simply made (above). Start on one line and stroll the dividers alongside to the opposite line. When they land instantly on the road, the area is evenly divided. The factors the place the dividers hit are the middle factors of the pins. Transfer the divider marks to the skin face. Measure 316” on both facet of the marks and, from that time, draw the dovetail angle throughout the top grain to the within face. Square the strains down the within and out of doors faces to the marking-gauge line.

Now you possibly can reduce the pins. Carefully noticed on the waste facet of every pencil line, then use a coping noticed to chop out the majority of the waste. Use a chisel to cut to the marking gauge line. Chop midway in, then flip the board and are available from the alternative face to complete the waste removing. Check the surfaces with a sq. and pare every cheek and shoulder till they’re true.

When the pins are completed, scribe the tails. Stand every finish of the pin board on its corresponding tail board. Align the within face of the pins with the marking gauge line on the within face of the highest or backside board. Trace the pins utilizing a pointy pencil.

Square the tail strains throughout the ends of the boards then reduce rigorously on the waste facet of all the strains. Saw out the majority of the waste and chop to the marking-gauge strains. Lightly test-fit every nook and mark the place the joints are too tight to shut. Use a chisel to pare the tails to suit. Do not alter the pins.

Dados & Rabbets

Stop that rabbet. Set up stop-blocks in your router desk’s fence to register the back and front as you mill the rabbets within the again inside edges of the case sides.

First lay out the dados for the case dividers on the within faces of the edges. The high one begins 238” from the highest edge; the second dado is 478” from the highest; the third is 814” from the highest. The dados are all 12” huge x 18” deep and are reduce throughout all the face.

To reduce the dados mount a 12” dado stack on the desk noticed to chop 18” deep. Make positive to chop the dados on the within faces. Run the highest edge of every facet in opposition to the fence on all the cuts. Once all the dados are reduce, use a router airplane to wash up the dado bottoms.

Ready, set, assemble. When all of the case joinery, together with dovetails, dados and rabbets, is accomplished, the toolbox is prepared for glue-up.

Now lay out and reduce the 38” x 38” rabbets on the again inside nook of the case sides, high and backside. The rabbets within the high and backside run the complete size of the sting. The rabbets on the edges cease 38” from every finish.

Cut the rabbets on the router desk. Set a straight bit to chop 38” from the tabletop and the fence. Run each the highest and backside during. Now set as much as make the stopped cuts. With the router off, mark the back and front edges of the bit on the fence. Clamp back and front stops on the fence in order that the bit is not going to reduce previous both finish of the format strains.

Custom caul. To make sure that the dovetail joints seat fully, make a clamping caul that applies strain on solely the tails.

To make the cuts, set the again nook of the facet in opposition to the rear cease and slowly transfer the piece towards the fence and into the cutter. Once it’s in opposition to the fence, push the piece to the entrance cease then slowly swing the again of the piece away from the cutter.

Glue up the Case

Notch your clamping cauls across the pins so that they press solely on the tails. Glue and clamp the underside corners first. Once the glue begins to set, take away the clamps and glue the highest corners, checking for sq.. Now go away the clamps on till the glue has absolutely cured.

Make the Case Dividers

Frames divide the case and act as drawer helps. The exterior corners of the frames are joined with bridle or slip joints. The two higher dividers have a center rail with stub tenons.

Begin by chopping the slots within the lengthy stiles. The slots are 14” thick x 134” lengthy, and undergo the complete width of the back and front body elements, centered within the thickness of the elements. Put a 14“- thick dado stack in your desk noticed set to chop 134” excessive. Cut the slots with the elements on finish utilizing a backer board, resembling tenoning jig, to assist the piece. When carried out, reduce grooves for the stub tenons in the back and front items. Without transferring the fence, decrease the dado stack to 14” and reduce grooves on the within edges of the highest two frames.

Now reduce and match the body tenons utilizing your dado stack and desk noticed. Run the inventory flat on the noticed desk guided with the miter gauge. The dado stack needs to be set to chop simply 18” excessive. Cut the highest face of the tenons first, then match the joint by trimming the underside face. For the highest two heart rails, reduce the tenons concurrently the remaining. After all the joints are match, trim the tenons on the middle runners to 14” lengthy.

With the body joinery full, glue up the frames and match them to the case. Make positive the frames are sq.. If vital, clamp the slip joints closed so the joints don’t flare out. Once the glue dries, flush the highest surfaces on the joints with a handplane. Fit the frames to the dados within the case sides by planing the underside surfaces.

When the frames are carried out, glue on the cherry divider faces. Mill them simply thicker than the frames. Glue on the faces, permitting further size on every finish for the dovetails. Once the glue dries, handplane them flush to the frames. Lay out the size of the dovetails on the case sides. Now slide every body into place and mark the dovetail size and the underside of the dovetail dado on the face piece. When carried out, reduce every finish of the cherry faces to size.

Tommy Mac’s Toolbox Cut List

No.ItemDimensions (inches)MaterialComments

t w l


❏ 2 Top & backside 5Eight x 14 12 x 28 Cherry

❏ 2 Sides 58 x 14 12 x 13 14 Cherry

❏ 3 Divider fronts 12 x 1 3Four x 27 Cherry

❏ 3 Divider backs 12 x 1 3Four x 27 Secondary

❏ 6 Divider sides 12 x 1 3Four x 13 38 Secondary

❏ 2 Center runners 12 x 1 34 x 13 38 Secondary Trim to suit

❏ 3 Divider faces 12 x 34 x 27 58 Cherry Leave lengthy

❏ 1 Vertical partition 12 34 5 Cherry Leave lengthy

❏ 2 Center drawer guides 12 x 12 x 13 Secondary

❏ 4 Backs 38 x Four x 27 12 Secondary Shiplap


❏ 2 Fronts (higher) 34 x 1 34 x 13 18 Cherry

❏ 4 Sides (higher) 38 x 1 34 x 13 12 Secondary

❏ 2 Backs (higher) 38 x 1 14 x 13 18 Secondary

❏ 2 Fronts (slender mid.) 34 x 2 x 13 18 Cherry

❏ 4 Sides (slender mid.) 38 x 2 x 13 12 Secondary

❏ 2 Backs (slender mid.) 38 x 1 12 x 13 18 Secondary

❏ 1 Front (huge mid.) 34 x 2 78 x 26 34 Cherry

❏ 2 Sides (huge mid.) 38 x 2 78 x 13 12 Secondary

❏ 1 Back (huge mid.) 38 x 2 38 x 26 34 Secondary

❏ 1 Front (decrease) 34 x 3 78 x 26 34 Cherry

❏ 2 Sides (decrease) 38 x 3 78 x 13 12 Secondary

❏ 1 Back (decrease) 38 x 3 38 x 26 34 Secondary

❏ 4 Narrow bottoms 38 x 14 58 x 12 34 Secondary

❏ 2 Wide bottoms 38 x 14 58 x 26 38 Secondary

❏ 12 Drawer stops 18 x 12 x 58 Secondary

Drawer Divider Front

I take advantage of a “ramp block” that helps me make the dovetails for the drawer divider entrance. To make it, mill a chunk of scrap to 34” thick x 4″ huge (and ensure it’s a scrap that permits you to work a secure distance from the blade). On the sting, mark 12” from one face. Tilt the desk noticed blade to 10º and set the fence simply over 58” from the underside of the blade. With the scrap on edge, rip the angle into the piece. Skim off any noticed marks with a handplane.

Clamp the ramp block and divider as proven under. The block needs to be perpendicular to the face piece and tight in opposition to its finish. Chop down on the dado mark and take away chips till the chisel rides flat on the ramp block. Repeat this on the highest and backside of each ends of all the dividers.

When carried out, match the dividers to the case. Slide every divider in place then use a pointy pencil to hint the dovetails onto the entrance edges of the case. Remove the dividers, sq. the strains down the within face and mark the 34” depth of the sockets. Saw, chop and pare the sockets till the dividers match snugly.

Partition & Guides

Frame-up. The case is split utilizing frames with slip joints on the ends and stub tenons the place wanted for a middle divider. These frames assist the drawers and slot in dados.

Mark the size of the dovetails and dados on the case high and second body. The tails are 516” from the within edges of the highest and body. The dados are 18” deep x 12” huge, and centered within the case. Use a sq., knife and chisel to filter out the 34“-long dados. Make positive the partition matches tightly within the dados. If not, both widen the dados or handplane the partition to suit. Once the partition matches, clamp the highest divider to the second with the shoulders aligned on the ends, and scribe the dado throughout the face of the highest divider. Cut the 12“-deep x 34“-wide notch within the high divider and match it to the partition.

Now reduce the partitions to size. First, dry-fit the frames within the case and measure the size of the partition. Dovetail the ends utilizing the ramp block that you simply used for the dividers. Mark the 14” dovetail size on the ends of the partitions. Set within the shoulders on the again and take away about 18” of the again of the tails. Use these notches to check the partition within the dados. Once the shoulders match, reduce the tails with the ramp block as earlier than.

Guided chisel. As an assist to chopping the dovetails on the divider fronts, use a shop-made “ramp block” to information the chisel and assist obtain constant sizes and angles.

Fit the partition to the case. With the dividers in place, slide the partition into the dados and scribe the tails on the case and second divider. Mark the 58” depth of the tails as nicely. Remove the partition and divider to chop and match the sockets. When carried out, glue within the dividers and partition. Start by sliding the dividers in virtually fully then apply glue to the entrance 2″ and the dovetail. With the dividers in place, glue within the partition. Glue the middle drawer runners on the highest two dividers instantly behind the partition. Use a sq. to ensure they’re flush to the width of the partition and sq. to the entrance of the case.

Make the Drawers

Dovetail socket. The socket for the case dovetail is positioned on the finish of a shallow dado that homes the drawer divider.

On the within face of every drawer half reduce a 14“-wide x 316“-deep groove 14” up from the underside edge. Once the grooves are reduce, rip the backs to width, chopping them flush to the highest of the groove. Next, dovetail the drawers. Lay out the half pins on the drawer fronts. Set a marking gauge to 916” and, from the within face, mark the top grain on each ends of every drawer entrance.

Use the identical setting to mark across the entrance of the drawer sides. Reset the marking gauge to the 38” thickness of the drawer sides and mark the within face on each ends of every entrance. With the identical setting, additionally mark across the again of every facet and round each ends of every drawer again. Lay out a 14” half pin on the highest and backside of the drawer back and front. Also mark a 38“-wide pin within the heart. Mark the dovetail angle on the top grain and sq. the strains down the within faces.

Upper drawers divided. A vertical partition divides the case for the 4 narrower higher drawers. It is dovetailed just like the divider fronts on the ends, and it’s let into the center of the highest drawer divider with a easy notch.

On the drawer fronts, noticed at an angle taking care to not reduce by way of both marking gauge line, then chop out the waste, working right down to the lap line on the fronts. Pare the pins till the cheeks are flat and perpendicular to the ends. Mark, reduce and match the tails simply as you probably did on the case.

Glue up the drawers ensuring they’re sq.. Clean off all the glue and flush all the surfaces with a handplane. Make positive the drawers sit flat on a flat floor. Test the drawer in its opening. Plane the highest edges of the edges till the drawers transfer simply of their pockets.

Glue the Drawer Stops

With the drawers match, align the drawer fronts flush with the case and dividers. Apply a small quantity of glue to every cease. Reach by way of the again of the case and place the stops on the tops of the dividers. Make positive the cease is tight to the again of the drawer entrance. Once the glue units, check the drawer and trim the cease if vital.

Cut the bottoms to slot in the grooves. Set the desk noticed to 6º with a zero-clearance insert and a featherboard in entrance of the blade. Set the fence to simply beneath 14” from the blade. Bevel each side and the entrance of the underside. Adjust the fence till the underside simply begins to slip into the drawer. Cut all the bottoms and fine-tune the match with a airplane. When the bottoms match, trim them flush to the again of the drawer. Cut a 12“-long x 18“-wide notch within the heart of the again edge of every drawer backside. Insert a screw by way of the notch into the drawer again to pinch and maintain the underside in place.

Shiplap the Back

Rip the backboards to 4″ huge. On one edge of every reduce a 316“-deep x 38“-wide rabbet. On two of the boards, reduce the identical rabbet on the alternative face of the alternative edge. Fit a single-rabbet board on the underside of the case within the again rabbet and screw it alongside the underside edge. Lay the double-rabbet boards in subsequent so the rabbets overlap, leaving a 18” reveal in every joint. Screw these boards in on the ends, close to the place they overlap the board under. Trim the unrabbeted finish of the ultimate board till it matches in place with the identical 18” reveal and screw it in place.

Sand & Finish

Make positive all of the glue has been cleaned off of the surfaces. Address any tear-out, dents or gouges earlier than you begin to sand. Then completely sand starting with #120-grit paper and progress by way of finer grits stopping at #180 or #220 grit. Then ease all of the sharp edges. Apply the end you favor following  the producer’s directions. When it’s dry, set up drawer pulls of your selection (mine are iron; 34” for the highest drawers, 118” for the underside drawers).

When your toolbox is accomplished you’ll have realized most of the important woodworking abilities. And when you’re like me, your joinery tolerances could have tightened up loads simply studying the ins and outs of dovetailing.

Product Recommendations

Here are some provides and instruments we discover important in our on a regular basis work across the store. We could obtain a fee from gross sales referred by our hyperlinks; nonetheless, we now have rigorously chosen these merchandise for his or her usefulness and high quality.

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