Dutch Tool Chest Part 3: Finishing the case


With the dovetails cut and the sides and bottom attached, I honestly believed I would finish the chest in one day. What I had not yet learned about woodworking is that the closer you get to the end, the further the end recedes. There’s always another step, and as the work starts coming together well, I would move more slowly and deliberately to keep from screwing something up. I had too much invested at this point. But I motored on (without any motors.)

First, I had to cut the dadoes for the shelf that splits the Dutch Tool Chest into an upper and lower compartment. This is a straight-forward operation: Cut the sides of the channel with a cross cut tenon saw and chisel the waste. Except I was so nervous of cutting the channel too wide, that I cut it too shallow and was having a hell of a time widening it without a side rabbet plane.

By coincidence, it was at this point that decided to post on Lumberjocks.com a photo of an old plane I picked up at a flea market and asked for help identifying it. It’s a side rabbet plane.

I sharpened it up and set to work. After a few tests and trims, the shelf slid home. The sawdust faeries were looking out for me. But it was still two days later.


From there I added the front and rear boards with a few brad nails. My plan is to use cut nails to complete the construction, so the brads are temporary. In Christopher Schwarz’s version, the back of the chest is constructed of shiplap boards that run vertically. I simply don’t have the tools for that, so I went with two horizontal boards. I don’t foresee a lot of temperature or humidity changes in the chest’s future, and the cut nails should be able to handle any slight wood movement.


With the shelf and back in place, I cut the notches for the sliding board that will lock the unit together when the lower front is attached. Should have done the one on the bottom before gluing up the dovetails, but it came out fine anyway. For the bracket on the inside of the removable front piece, I used a piece of mahogany that I got in an Ebay grab bag. Marked the notch to fit the lock board, made several stop cuts along the length of the notch and chiseled the waste.

Well into my second weekend, it was starting to look like a chest. 



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