A Revelation

I knew that when I began considering building a tool chest, that such a thing would change not just the way I store my tools, but the way I work as well. The latter is yet to be seen, but I am finally beginning to understand the former.

When I read the Anarchist’s Tool Chest I made mental assent to nearly every idea in that book. It connected to the way I think and the way I want to do things. Building a tool chest (and starting to store my tools in it) has reminded me that reality is not always so neat as the ideal.

It has also reminded me that I probably still have too many tools, but we’ll tackle that another day.

What I wanted to do today is reveal the finished chest. Of course I’ll spend the next several months fitting and refitting tills, racks and holders, but the chest and the main trays are done and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it has come out.


I painted it using milk paint and finished it with a couple of coats of hand rubbed furniture wax. I wanted something that would protect it, but not be too precious because this is, after all, a working tool chest. It does look fine though, and I had to keep asking myself:

Have I created a beautiful thing that also happens to be useful or a useful thing that also happens to be beautiful?

In any case, it’s bigger on the inside. Or at least it seems that way because of the deep blue exterior.



The trays are just the right size and they slide beautifully. The blacksmith hardware works like a charm and the bottom is just the right size for my working set of planes, specialty planes, a roll of chisels and some backsaws.

I had briefly considered mounting two full sized saws on the lid, but I really have more saws in rotation than would fit and I’ve got something else in store for the lid anyway.

I thought about stowing them in the bottom as I would in a full-sized ATC, but alas the handles are just slightly too tall to clear the bottom tray.

I’ll probably still build a wall till for my saws because that’s where I like them for everyday work. I only really need to take them with me when we move and we only move every couple of years or so.

Back to the details. I mentioned the hinges in the last post so I’ll fuss over the lifts in this one. These are reproduction (read cast, not forged) lifts but they’re solid and they really do the chest justice. Especially with different screws:


And yes, every screw on this piece is clocked 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Don’t worry, I’ve already fixed the screw on the bottom right in the picture above.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to start filling it up and figuring out where things will fit. I already appreciate the advice not to be overly fussy about dividing up the trays because I’ve moved things around a bit and curiously, things just find their own place.


The adventure is just beginning, but I’m already starting to catch myself thinking “if this doesn’t fit do I really need it?” 


7 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s a good looking chest, Jim. And I agree entirely, having a tool chest (particularly one you built yourself) does change the relationship you have with your tools.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. auswimkc says:

    Where did you source the handles/lifts? And the pyramid screws? Gorgeous cheat


    1. The lifts were from a local antiques/restoration store but you can find similar lifts at both Lee Valley and VanDykes restoration hardware. The screws I used on the lifts came from some reclaimed cabinets my neighbor was throwing out, so I don’t really know where to tell you to go for those. Hopefully someone else will chime in.


  3. Nikolaus says:

    can’t see the pictures! Can youb please upload them again?!


    1. Hopefully that fixed it. Not sure what happened there.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s