Wednesday 26 October 2016

Yet Another Toolbox

A new project is knocking at the door.
It is a toolbox for a special occasion.

But that's not all what's going on...

This is the third time I'm editing this post. Why? I'm struggling!
I'm struggling with my pace. I'm struggling with my time. I'm struggling with writing about it.

Actually this toolbox is for a special occasion. Honestly I don't know if I will be ready in time. So many things are getting in my way actually, that it is challenging to plan my freetime.

Nevertheless, I will build this toolbox. Or better, I'm building because I have started already.
A fall front toolbox is on my list for a long time. Now time has come to build one.

This box will be a present and I'm not only building it. But I will fill it with some of the tools I've found during all our flea market visits this year.
Maybe you were already wondering what I want to do with all these planes, braces, saws, etc.
Well, now the secret is lifted.

Yes, I think that is a good plan. I will build it and report about it. Should I get ready in time I will lift the secret about its purpose.

Design Considerations

That said, the tools are defining roughly the dimensions of the box. It will be about 550 mm wide, 400 mm high and 200 mm deep.
The width is determined by the length of the planes and the panel saw which will be stored in the box.
A German wooden jack plane is 240 mm and a smoother is 220 mm long. With 550 mm width I can store them in a row.
The main case will be a simple box, jointed with dovetails. The lid and the back will be frame and panel constructions.
The box will receive one or two drawers in the top area.
All I've planned so far are the outside dimensions. All other parts will be made to fit.
Finally the toolbox will get a chalk paint finish. And I think I will paint it black.

Making The Case

I will use Spruce to build this toolbox. For different reasons. First of all it is lightweight and secondly stable and flexible. It's easy to get and to work with. Enough said.
Like every project, also this starts with preparing the material. I have material in pretty good (in Germany it is called cabinet makers grade) quality.

Rough Spruce Boards

So I had only to scrub the rough boards and could start to dimension them. Nothing special. I observe that I'm pretty much following the procedure Richard Maguire from the English Woodworker recommends. For me that's a good approach and I can prep my boards well enough.

Board prepping means a lot of shavings

Here are some of the boards for the case. Two to go and then I'm ready for cutting dovetails.

Top and bottom and some of the filling


I've gone to cut dovetails with templates only. This technique was shown by Mr. Sellers and I've adopted this technique. It works well for me and improved my results in cutting tails.

Dovetail template

So, this is my template. Five tails this time with pretty narrow pins (at least for me).

Sawing tails with a template

I've ganged up the two boards and the template and just sawed down the line. The nice thing with the template is that it keeps one  straight while sawing and additionally you don't have to care much about the angle because the template is guiding you. One end done you just have to flip over the boards and to clamp the guide to the opposite end.

The first row of tails chopped

What's Next?

Actually this project is pretty straight forward. Nothing I haven't done before. Just a matter of doing it.
The pins have to be cut next and then I'm almost ready for gluing up the case.
One question I haven't answered yet is about the drawer runners. I would like to have two drawers in the top area of the box. Therefore I need some runners. Would you just glue and screw them in or would you do some housings to set them in? Your opinion is very appreciated.

Then I have to build two frames for the back and front. Sounds not too difficult.

Beside of this toolbox project I'm still working on my video project. That's challenging me too. All guys doing videos on a regular base do have my respect. Maybe it is because of the learning curve but there are a lot of topics getting in my way. It starts with underestimating the need of storage, leads over to messing up a take (no, you can't repeat it, because you haven't got a spare part) and ends not with synchronizing the voice over your video take. Anyway, it is a lot of fun. And it is on its way. Bear with me!

Sneak peak

Stay tuned!


  1. Well, your writing made me read all the post in no time!
    So if it was a struggle, I didn't notice!

    P.S. From time to time I stop at looking for 'Hobel' - I like to try one ;)
    Is there any noticeable (in the real world) difference between jack plane beeing Ulmia or ECE brands?
    After your post I quit on the cheap "Pinie" idea!

    1. Olá António,
      Thanks. Glad that you like my writing :-)
      I was struggling with the content of my last posts.
      Regarding the planes. As Wolfram wrote below. From my point of view ECE and Ulmia are on the same level. In Germany every tools which are sold for professional purpose have to follow a standardization rule. So the dimensions are close to equal. I believe that Ulmia started first using a metal counterbearing. But pay attention, planes with these kind of wedge holding often have got a split body.
      The ECE fits a tad better to my hands. I would say it is slightly slimmer.
      Regarding the Pinie. Don't get my wrong. The scrub plane is one of my working horses now. But is one of my favorites? Don't think so. If you will invest the money for a Pinie jack plane in a second hand ECE then you will get one in excellent conditions.

      All the best and keep me updated.

  2. Ulmia and ECE are on a almost similar level. It is like BMW vs. Mercedes - more a question of your personal style. I see both brands as similar

  3. The comment from Matt somehow got lost on Blogger.
    So here is what he wrote:
    Matt McGrane has left a new comment on your post "Yet Another Toolbox":

    Stefan, I was just reading about drawer runners in Bill Hylton's book "Illustrated Cabinetmaking". The main thing to consider is wood grain orientation. If the sides of the case have grain vertical, then gluing a runner to the side would be bad. You could screw the front of the runner to the case side and used slotted holes to screw the middle and back of the runner to the side. Typically drawer runners at the sides of a case are housed in dadoes and they have to be free to allow the side to move with humidity changes. If you will have a rail that divides the drawer area from the rest of the case, then the runners can be mortised into the rail. I did this on my "Mini Chest of Drawers" (;postID=6755381209116517786;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=23;src=postname), and I did not glue the runner into the rear rail mortise. I also made the runner about 1/8" shorter than usual so that the shoulders do not quite meet the mortise edges at the rear.

    1. Hi Matt,
      thanks for your comment. This is a real good advise and I will keep that in mind.