Tool Cabinet Q&A

Out of all the photos I’ve posted here, the one that always gets the most hits and questions is the picture of my tool cabinet. What’s in it? What’s that thing? What’s it made of? So I’ve decided to give a guided tour, while I’m waiting for the glue to set on the drawer for the Stickley Table.

The cabinet is 3/4″ red oak plywood, with red oak trim and edge banding. I built it over a weekend, at a class offered at our local Woodcraft. The class is listed as “Build an Old-World Hand Tool Cabinet”, and was a Christmas present from my wife a couple of years ago. It was an absolutely wonderful class taught by Howard Hale. The best part wasn’t even the cabinet itself; it was the tips and techniques he taught concerning things like how to handle large sheet goods on the table saw accurately. It was three very full days, and the other three students that signed up for the class all had to cancel… so I had the teacher’s complete attention. Can’t beat that.

The finish on the cabinet is two coats of Watco Golden Oak Danish Oil, followed by two coats of spray shellac. The tool holders are all made from scrap red oak left over from class, with brass hardware. Door latches (and some tool holders) are recessed rare-earth magnets. Three anti-corrosion emitters are inside the cabinet, to help fight the moist Texas air.

Left Door (clockwise from upper left):

  • Henry Taylor carving tools (late 19th-century, belonged to my great-grandmother)
  • Crown Marking gauge
  • Starrett calipers and dividers (all antiques)
  • Crown sliding bevel gauge
  • Groz machinist’s squares (set of 3)
  • Crown skew chisels (two, left & right)
  • Lee Valley spring-loaded punches
  • Veritas saddle square
  • Veritas double square
  • Stanley #62 brass & boxwood ruler (eBay; restored by me)
  • Woodcraft 24″ center-finding ruler (left side, attached w/magnets)
  • Crown bench chisels, old Fuller chisel (for rough work), two Japanese mortising chisels
  • Crown try square
  • Woodcraft Odd Job (Stanley copy)
  • Veritas wheel marking gauge
  • Veritas & Crown marking knives (I’m going to make a smaller one soon; the Veritas one is nice, but it’s too wide for fine dovetails)
  • Stanley scratch awl (junk; I really need to make a better one)
  • Screw starter (unknown, belonged to my grandfather)

Right Door (clockwise from upper left):

  • Mallet (first hand tool I made, maple and walnut)
  • Hammers (ball peen, plastic/rubber, miniature claw)
  • Stanley level (cherry and brass, gift from my sister-in-law)
  • Assorted bits (phillips, slot, square, torx)
  • Crown 4″ level
  • Countersinks (single-fluted)
  • Punches
  • Pin vise (made by my father from an old drill chuck)
  • Screwdrivers (Sheffield)
  • Woodcraft 6″ ruler)
  • Miller’s Falls “eggbeater” drill (eBay, restored by me – I absolutely *love* this drill. Has beautiful rosewood handles.)
  • Groz center finder
  • French curves
  • Combination square (really crappy, from Lowe’s – badly needs replacing)

Main Cabinet:

Top Shelf: 24″ jointer plane (spalted maple and bloodwood)

Plane Shelf (left to right):

Main cabinet:

  • Parker #55 coping saw
  • Garlick Lynx flush-cutting saw (behind the coping saw)
  • Dozuki saw
  • Bowsaw (curly cherry & padauk; from yet another class at Woodcraft)
  • Veritas dovetail saw (14 tpi)
  • Lynx Gents’ saw
  • Veritas Low-angle spokeshave
  • Assorted files and file card
  • Crown burnisher
  • Card scrapers
  • Notebooks, calculator, and digital calipers (black case)
  • Powdered copper (white bottle)
  • Tape measures & utility knives
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Bench brush
  • Setting hammer for planes
  • Super glue, machinist’s oil
  • Renaissance Wax
  • Pencils, pens, scissors, knives, brushes
  • Blue box: 1-2-3 blocks and brass setup blocks
  • Old chisel (blunted, used for prying and separating)
  • Leather strop and rouge
  • Japanese layout square

I absolutely love this cabinet. Part of the joy of using hand tools is in caring for them properly. They can be a considerable financial investment, but some of my favorite tools (like the mallet) cost nothing but a little scrap wood – and make me smile whenever I pick them up. Keeping them properly stored keeps sharp edges from getting chipped or gouging your work.


One comment on “Tool Cabinet Q&A

  1. Nice job on the cabinet! I need to put a couple of those together, and I have always thought that a large version, 36″ wide and 16″ deep, as tall as is convenient, and on casters, would make an excellent addition to a small shop.

    best regards,
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

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