The Dutch Tool Chest build is complete. What I thought would be a two-day project took me close to three months from start to finish. In fact, I still have one problem to solve, which I’ll get to later in case you don’t immediately notice it.
Overall, I’m really happy with the outcome. The chest is attractive and functional, and it provided a great learning experience. It may be my favorite thing I own, and that really is what woodworking is all about to me… building beautiful, real things. It’s an honest, analog balance to living in a disposable and increasingly digital society. As someone who makes his living with words, numbers and ideas, whose only product is persuasion, I find it exciting, challenging and healing to pick up a tool and make something real. To see and touch and use something that I built is an awesome feeling. Two months ago, this thing lived only in my mind and in a stack of lumber at Lowes. Now it is a useful product. I think that’s friggin’ awesome, and I know I am not alone in this. Throughout this project, I sought and received help and encouragement from the good people at Lumberjocks.com, and I am grateful for that support and the feeling of connection I have to a larger community of makers.
As far as the project itself, it is what I believed it would be: A great project for a beginning woodworker. It’s sufficiently challenging to build skills but simple enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed. It’s also extremely flexible, and while the project is basically just a box with a shelf in it, there is a lot of room for improvisation in the interior organization.
The interior tills and organization were the real learning experience. Almost each piece required two or three takes. And I’m still not happy with the saw till on the inside cover. As anyone with a good eye for detail will notice, the tills are open at the top, meaning the saws slip out when closed. This was the fourth attempt at a solution. The first three tries were closed, but did not have enough clearance to close the lid completely. The fact is, the chest is always open, so it’s not a problem. But I do plan on re-doing it so that it’s correct.
As for tools, I kept my promise of building the chest exclusively with hand tools and period-correct fasteners. The only power tool I used was a drill to bore the dowel holes that connect the breadboard ends on the lid.
The surprise for me was how interested I got in hardware… something new for which to hunt. In addition to learning that vinegar is great for antiquing stainless steel, I also found that Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple is great at turning back the calendar on zinc plated hardware. (It’s the citric acid… so you can just use that.) My original intention was to find period-appropriate hardware, but everything I found was just too expensive for an inexpensive woodworking project, which this was supposed to be. I managed to locate some hand-cut nails on Ebay and slot head screws at my local Ace hardware. The handles are from Lowes. I antiqued the screws with vinegar and gave the handles a bath in the Snapple, and they look great.
All in all, a great project. I recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging but achievable beginner’s woodworking project.
Now… I have to go clean up three months worth of mess in my shop.