Small toolchest – design

I am a member of the online community taking lessons at under Paul Sellers. A number of projects are worked through from start to finish. The best series of all in my opinion is the toolchest and I put it off until now.

Here is a photo of Sellers’ toolchest:


Making the toolchest helps one learn about dovetailing a carcass, making mortise-and-tenon joinery, raising panels, fittting drawers to a frame, cutting grooves and dadoes, jointing and planing wood to thickness etc etc.

I wanted to give this project a go, but I didn’t really need another toolchest. So, I decided to make a scaled down version of it.

At about 1/2 scale, the toolchest would have been 12″ long by 9″ deep by 6″ tall. To begin, I made a cardboard mock-up to test for size.


This was tested to fit in a wall cabinet that I just modified to hold my tools. The little toolchest would be put to use holding oddball tools that I couldn’t easily hang up: marking knife, dovetail layout tool, other small items.

I found it would be better to reduce the depth (front to back) to 7″ or so to get it in and out of the wall cabinet.

So, with this information, I went to the computer. I got a Sketchup model of the full-size toolchest that I had made some time ago. I scaled the model by 1/2 and edited the sides, reduced the depths of the drawers etc.

This gave me a model of a toolchest with 3/8″ thick walls, 1/4″ sides on the drawers etc. Quite a bit daintier than I had been used considering I had just finished making a 6′ bed.

I used up the remaining panel from my chopped up IKEA bed as the material for the toolchest.


I milled up the lumber, ripped it and cut it to length for the individual parts.


Also I made a full size drawing of the front of the toolchest and a cutaways of the side. This would help with sizing the joinery without having to reference from the computer all the time.


Here’s a screenshot of the Sketchup model:


Also, I made an exploded version to better take off measurements for drawers, tenons etc.


Up next: dovetailing


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