when history opens its pages…

I finished the trays for the chest. I’m pretty excited about that. There’s a confession to be had there but that will be for a future post.

What this means though, is that woodworking is largely done and that it’s time to fix hardware and paint. I started laying things out to get a sense for them this morning. The hinges are 12″ blacksmith made strap hinges by Nathan’s Forge. The hinges are wonderful and the service was excellent, so I highly recommend them if you’re ever building one of these for yourself.

I ordered these primarily because I wanted something that looked like the hinges Chris Schwarz used on the example in the plans. I considered all sorts of options for these hinges and kept coming back to the simple, blacksmith-made straps as the best option.

Here’s a picture of Chris’ chest for reference:

(image from Lost Art Press)

And then yesterday I was digging around over at Joshua Klein’s blog The Workbench Diary when I stumbled upon this post which lead me back to this post at Lost Art Press and the tumblers began to fall as history unlocked her secrets.

Joshua has been working on a (highly anticipated) book about congregationalist minister, polymath and woodworker extraordinaire Jonathan Fisher, and in his research has uncovered all sorts of interesting things, not the least of which is this tool chest:

(image from The Workbench Diary)

And here’s a better angle from Lost Art Press

Look at those hinges. Hmm. Check out that nailed rabbet construction. Lid battens, check. And, although the example Chris built has iron hinges, beckets like the ones on this chest are also mentioned as a traditional option in Chris’ plans for a boarded tool chest.

To be fair, these construction techniques are ubiquitous on similar chests. I saw similar joints and hinges on at least a half-dozen antiques over the past few weeks. I just think it’s neat that there is so much similarity here.

I have no idea how much the Fisher chest played into Chris’ design for the boarded tool chest. I don’t really have a great way to contact him and ask, but would love to know more about the influence it may have had on his work for this simple reason; I am fascinated by the idea that the chest I am currently building shares some of its design DNA with Fisher’s tool chest. As a pastor myself who is endlessly dabbling in other intellectual pursuits and has a passion for woodworking, Fisher gives me a historical reference for someone who (although far more accomplished than me) encountered the world in the same way.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. James,

    Fisher’s chest was one of the inspirations for this tool chest. It wasn’t the first chest I’d examined that was constructed like this nor the last. But I did like the look of it. My dimensions are significantly different than Fisher’s, as is the interior and lifts. But the “feel” of the chest is from that chest.


    1. Chris, thanks for the response on this one. It really just struck my fancy when I ran across the posts on Fisher’s tools because, as you said, the two had the same “feel.”

      Thanks, by the way, for sharing your plans. Having done historical work in the literary field, I can only guess at how much work and research must go into something like that. It was a gracious gift and I’m enjoying this build immensely .


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