I’ve always had a difficult time buying jeans and getting the fit right. As a tall, non-skinny person I can generally find the length I need or the waist size, but finding the two in the same pair requires some sort of rare astrological alignment and this happens so infrequently that when I find a pair of jeans that fit, I wear them until they literally fall apart.
Imagine my delight when I found that the Dutch tool chest was a perfect fit.
Although I still have to get down when I’m getting tools from the lower compartments, with the auxiliary cabinet in place I’ve found that everything in the top section of the chest is exactly at hand height. This is something akin to the revelation of finally working on a workbench that is the right height for hand tools. I can stand beside the chest, put my arm down along my side and my hand rests right on the tote of my hand planes. I can reach forward and my marking tools are all just at the height of my hand. The back saws follow suit and each and every time I reach for one I think, this is just right.
It’s the “Goldilocks” of tool chests: Not too tall, not too short, deep or wide. I’m not going to belabor this point, but now that things are so easy, the most important thing for me is not to complicate them too much.
What I mean by that is, I don’t want to add unnecessarily complexity to the interior space, but I do want to add just enough delineation to keep things in their place. After studying several other Dutch tool chests ranging from spartan to stuffed, I decided to begin with a simple grid on the floor of the chest to keep the planes in line and to integrate the saw till into that construction.
I began by putting things generally where I wanted them and re-sawing some scraps on the band saw into 3/8 divider strips. I pre-dimensioned the strips with hand planes, but the band saw leaves a much finer kerf than anything alcohol powered in my arsenal and I wanted to maximize the thin material. A few swipes of the no. 8 and all traces of my mechanized sin were eliminated.
Speaking of the no.8, that’s really the reason I was waiting to do this. I had ordered one a month ago at Woodworking in America 2016, but it was on back-order for a while. I didn’t want to begin based on a measurement. I wanted the actual tools in their actual places so that I could put actual dividers between them and see how things came together.
There is very little joinery to the dividers. the two long dividers are held down by cross pieces at either end of the top compartment with lap joints. They, in turn hold down the one divider between the smoother and the jack with the same principal. The two end pieces are screwed into the sides of the carcase at two points and the till is notched and screwed into the long divider. The till is also screwed into the back of the carcase with a single screw through a back cross piece (not pictured).
Really, with the exception of the till, it could almost fit together with friction alone.