Dutch Tool Box – Yellow Pine – 2015

Shelves are apparently not my things.  It wasn’t until I dry fitted the carcass that I realized that I had two left sides.  I’d love to tell you this was the first time that I made this mistake but than I wouldn’t have a chance to show off the matching fir bookcases I made almost ten years ago.  That’s what happens when you end up with two left sides – you end up making two right sides.  If only there were a solution for two left feet.  This time around, I sent one set of sides to Brian and we end up making matching toolboxes.  While we started with two identical pieces, our boxes took on different courses from that point forward.  Like twins separated at birth or that 90’s movie duplicity starting from the same origin doesn’t necessitate the same result.  So yet again, I am going to write a dual post, my chest first and than his

There was a point this summer, David and I were building rival toolboxes, his a classic english style and mine more continental but in both cases very much designs revitalized by Christopher Schwartz.  As a guide I followed Schwartz’s plan, although I broke one of his personal pet-peeves and elected to add dainty drawers for special gadgets and piece.  Besides holding gadets and all – it just felt like toolbox need at least some dovetails not covered in a health dose of paint.
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Opened and closed.  The boxopens to display all the treasures.  Unlike the english chest the lid does not become another surface for stuff to congregate.



I took special attention to align the grain in the drawer faces.  The walnut speaks for itself.  Although I matched little else, I did use the same drawer pulls as my tool cabinet.

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The top section – holds my saws and the bottom section is available for planes, and all of the other accessories that one seems to collects.  For those considering this project, may I suggest checking on some great tips on tool storage here.  The challenge with building a new tool box is that you have more temptation to acquire additional tools.


Revati and I purchased the antique lock from a collector in Lancaster County, PA.  The handles we found at an antique shop in Havre De Grace.  So nice to see all of the pieces you collect over time, finally finding a home – even if it take a whole lot longer than you expect  for everything to come together.  Its a life long project for lots of us not to collect too many things that we will use one day.


My Dutch Toolbox:


First step, I trued up the edges.  David looks “eagerly” on.


Why does my face look to pained as I do such a wonderful activity: chop out the waste between dovetails.  Also, can we collectively delude ourselves into believing that I am holding that chisel at 90 degrees and it looks ten degrees off because of the camera angle.  The bottom of the box is held by a dozen or so dovetail on each side to hold it together, so much work to slop a coat of paint over.  The dovetails are splayed out into the bottom board making this thing bomb-proof.  I mean nothing short of a hurricane, termites or maybe prolonged exposure to water is going to break this thing apart.


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Cut the dados with a cross cut saw and than cleaned up the remains with a router plane.  This is where I made the mistake – you need sides to mirror each other!  I broke with Christopher Schwartz’s advice and added a set of drawers to the tool box, he prefers wide open spaces, I like a chance to show off my dovetails.

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The frame is built.  I assembled the shelves and the center piece between the drawers before assembling the entire chest.


Hard to imagine – with the box finally assembled I drove some nails in to re-enforce it.  It seems like sacrilegious to drive fasteners in where joinery would do but that is the tradition.  Woodworking is like relationships – sometimes you need to push your comfort zones.


Painting a box is much harder than you would expect!  Rather than wiping danish oil across the piece milk paint require a lot more deliberate action.     In the end summation I really like using milk paint, I like the look, its not for every project but maybe I have been too stubborn in my choice of finishes.  Check out some advice on using milk paint here.


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Revati has the touch – I really like these photographs.  The finish dries on the box and drawers alike.  The front face has two grooves so two thins strips of left over osage orange can hold the box closed.  Its sort of an ingenuous design the front face – is freed by accessing the slides in the top.  If you are making a dutch chest remember to place the clasps as high on the front plate.



This is actually a photo of another project, but I sort of like how the chest stands proudly at work in my shop.  Before the final nail was driven in, the tool box was already put to work giving shelter to the tools without a home.

Matthew Rae

Brian’s Dutch Toolbox

I would be lying if I said this was the first time I have benefited from one of Matt’s woodworking mistakes. Truth be told, I probably would not have picked up this project if the pre-cut sides had not arrived at my house one day. However due to my growing tool collection, and the major leaks in my shop, this project had great timing.

I did the bulk of the project over a three week period while I was solo parenting. After putting my son to sleep, I worked from 9pm to 11pm everyday and thoroughly enjoyed the design and woodworking style. The highlight for me was the construction of the fall front door, which opens into the bottom compartment. Its simplicity and the sense of a secret door tied me to the design. This is the first project in a while I built solely for my use.  Having a secret with the piece also gave me pride in the work, one which I am reminded of at every use.

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The combination of dovetails and dados with nails and hardware took some adjusting to. I am not use to driving nails into my work, however I thought the antique(ish) nails that we chose were beautiful and add to the piece. I did predrill each hole as the nails were quite thick at the base and were prone to splitting the pine. In addition to the long leaf yellow pine, I opted for regular pine with a fir backing. I repurposed the pine from old siding, which also contributes to the antique feel of the piece.

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For the finishing, I did what many craftsman before me have done… check what paint was already on had. I found a maroon masonry paint that was used to paint my fireplace, and it has worked surprisingly well. The matte finish gives the box a rustic feel while looking sharp at the same time. It was not my intention to have a colour that was so close to Matt’s however, it is fitting given how the boxes started out as one project before an error allowed me to create an additional toolbox. Hopefully the two boxes will have a joint photo shoot sometime 



I opted for a similar interior design then Matt, creating narrow shelf for my carpenters’ and forest axes while utilizing a prebuilt box for small tools and oils. For the top compartment I created a double decker rack to hold chisels files and like tools. I am at near capacity for my planes, given how this is likely to grow, I may design a shelf for this compartment.

Brian Rae



4 thoughts on “Dutch Tool Box – Yellow Pine – 2015

  1. Pingback: Helper’s Tool Box – Mixed Woods – 2016 | raecreation

  2. Pingback: Chisel Cabinet – Cherry – 2018 | raecreation

  3. Pingback: Backsaws – Beech and Mesquite – 2018 | raecreation

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