You’re Dutch!

I’m several generations removed from my Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsche) ancestors, but even as I was growing up there were a few (derivative) German phrases that lingered in occasional use at our house.  Mostly they had to do with quitting something. “Quit rutching”  meant to stop sliding around in your seat (Rutschen is German for “to slide”).  “Quit Fressin’ around at dinner”  meant to mind your manners at the table (Fressen is German for “to eat” but usually applied to animals). Oh, and while we’re at it, dinner meant lunch and supper meant dinner.

There were also all sorts of curious English/German grammatical mash-ups like “Outen the lights before you outen the house” (turn of the lights before leaving), “The milk’s all” (there is no more milk) and the prodigious use of the word “once”  as in “come over here, once” (really meaning “now”). You can only imagine the violence this did to my understanding of English grammar.

And of course, if you were babbling or you weren’t talking any sense, my grandmother would exclaim “You’re Dutch!”

That’s the long way around to saying this: I’ve had Dutch tool chests on the mind lately and I’m thinking about building one. I also think I may not be talking any sense. I’ve worked out of a small floor chest for more than a year now, am I crazy to want to build something else? Here’s my case.

There are two big issues:

  • The floor chest holds most of my tools, but not all. It is not a full sized English chest so there is no room in there for my shooting plane or my saws. I can squeeze my backsaws into the chest, but not my full size saws.
  • The floor chest means there’s lots of bending over involved. I had back surgery three years ago, but I still have to keep it in mind while I work and honestly, the less bending the better. Combine this with the fact that the limited real estate on a 6′ bench means I have to put things on and off my bench more and there is a lot of stooping in my life.

I feel like a Dutch chest might provide some solutions here. I’m not sure what the cubic storage capacity of the Dutch Chest is compared to my current chest, but there is always the possibility of building a handy add-on cabinet like this. If I built one of these I would likely go the route of building the smaller chest with the “campaign” addition. The modular nature reminds me of loading my bass rig in and out of clubs when I used to play in bands (also before back surgery) and I like that.

This chest also promises to put my most used tools at a more accessible height reserving the bottom shelves for things that only see use on occasion.

The chest would be made to fit here in my shop below my nail cabinet where my metal tool storage currently resides. The Craftsman holds all of my non-woodworking tools and my few remaining (gasp) power tools. (Yes there is a trim router and a circular saw in there.) I can find a new home for that.

So am I crazy? Am I talking nonsense? Or am I just finally going Dutch?



9 Comments Add yours

  1. Saul says:

    I work out of a mini Dutch chest on my bench, with lesser used tools in my roll around. What ever tools I’m using at the moment are hanging on a rack behind my bench, and go back in the chest when I’m done. It helps keep the tool well from getting cluttered.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike Updegraff says:

    I have PA Dutch coming out my ears. My grandmother (maiden name Eichelberger) used to say things like “I daresn’t stoop”. I enjoyed reading this post! Embrace your Dutchness.


  3. Allan says:

    I am just completing the larger Dutch chest and I am very pleased with it. It also is too low for my back so I decided to build a small rolling cart to set the chest on so that the top will be about waist high. I will put a clamp rack on the back of the tool box so I’ll have nearly every frequently used tool within arm’s reach. I am looking forward to moving into it in a day or two. The biggest challenge for me is attaching the hinges to the top.


  4. I’ve also been feeling the lure of a Dutch Tool Chest, Jim. Mainly because it looks like a super fun build.

    One work of caution though. I recall a blog post in which a Chris said he had to buy panel saws for the Dutch Chest because his full sized hand saws did not fit (although you have a saw till already, so it may not be too much of an issue for you!).

    Looking forward to watching this build!


    1. The saws have really been the only thing holding me back. I have one Disston no7 panel saw filed rip so I would really only need a crosscut to match, but I don’t think I’ll ever abandon my full sized saws entirely.

      Being 6’4″ a full sized saw hangs right with me and panel saws always feel just a little too short.


  5. Allan says:

    I have some Japanese saws that fit inside so I made a till to hold them next to my hand planes. I also have some western saws that are too long as overthewireless says but it occurred to me that they may fit on the back. I have built the large Dutch chest. I am planning on making some measurements to see if I can put some brackets on the back along with incorporating some sort of brackets for clamp storage.

    Still struggling with the hinges for the top for now. I am using wrought iron hinges from Lee-Valley as some have recommended. I first notched the top edge of the back top board. Then I attached the strap to the back of the cabinet and then attached the top to the other half of the hinge. I suspect (as usual for me) that I did this in the wrong sequence. (I have a knack for doing things backward and make things harder than they need to be.) This ended up with the top unable to close. The top back board edge is square to the face of the board so the top goes down only to where it hits the forward edge of the back board. So, I removed the removed the screws from the strap and set the top in position (with some inventive clamping) and let the straps fall where they wanted to be. The edge where the top meets the top back board did not look right. There was a big gap between them. Then I realized that the top edge of the top back board was supposed to extend ABOVE the sides and also be beveled to match the angle of the sides. So now I am remaking the top back board. Good thing I did not glue it. I hope this will make the hinge strap fall in the right position without any more issues.


    1. Sounds like you’ve identified the problem. That top board is supposed to have the same bevel as the sides.

      I’m undecided on hardware yet, but very tempted to go with blacksmith hardware.


  6. I say go for it but it’s for selfish reasons:blog content. In the end, I’m sure you could sell it if you don’t like it. Good luck.


  7. jonfiant says:

    I can certainly relate to the PA Dutch thing having grown up in Lancaster and Berks counties . I still remember a little of it, but now I enjoy bringing good southern sayings home to my family when I visit from Georgia. To be honest, southern cooking beats PA Dutch cooking every time in my book. They have no concept of good BBQ. Glad I moved. I too have been thinking about the Dutch tool chest. I may even design one that’s a little bit larger, just to hold full size saws. I don’t like to bend either!


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