Build a Tool Chest
with Christopher Schwarz

Anarchist's Toolchest by Chris Schwarz

Hand Toool Woodworking Series Level: Level II


Aside from a workbench, a sturdy tool chest is one of the most important things to have in your shop. It organizes and protects your tools from damage, rust and loss. While many woodworkers have attempted to improve upon the traditional chest design that emerged 300 years ago, the old form has remained the absolute best way to keep the most amount of tools in the smallest space.

Class Description

In this five-day class you will build the shell of your own traditional tool chest using hand tools and techniques. This is an excellent first project for a new hand-tool woodworker. Skills you will learn in this class include:
  • Truing up panels using bench planes
  • Traditional through-dovetail joinery
  • Cutting basic mouldings by hand
By the end of class you will have all the skills you need to complete the interior of the chest at your workshop at home, whether you want to make just a few sliding tills or even a full-blown interior cabinet with dovetailed drawers.


Required Tools:

  • Smoothing plane
  • Marking gauge or cutting gauge
  • Marking knife
  • Dividers
  • Try square
  • Sliding bevel 
  • Dovetail saw or dozuki
  • Chisels
  • Mallet
  • Rabbeting plane or a large shoulder plane
  • Hammer
  • Coping saw, fret saw or small bowsaw

Optional tools:

  • Jointer plane
  • Block plane
  • Router plane


We encourage you to bring your own hand tools and learn to tune them and use them better. However the School has an extensive collection of hand tools and every workbench is equipped with a working set of hand tools which you are welcome to use.

If you would like to ship your tools to the School please check our Shipping Guidelines

Materials / Cut List

You can build either the traditional full sized tool chest or the travelling toolchest.
We will provide kits for the tool chests. Please pay a deposit on a kit during registration and we'll let you know the final cost when we select the stock and price the kits in July 2013.  We guess the costs to be in $200- 300 range. We'll be looking for good wide boards of local fir, pine or alder.

Full-size chest

2    Front/Back                         7/8 x 24 x 38
2    Ends                                  7/8 x 24 x 21-7/8
      Bottom                               3/4 x 38 x 22 (multiple boards, shiplapped)
3    Battens                              1/2 x 2-1/4 x 22
2    Base skirt (front, back)       7/8 x 6 x 40
2    Base skirt (ends)                7/8 x 6 x 23-7/8
2    Top skirt (front, back)         7/8 x 3    x 40
2    Top skirt (ends)                  7/8 x 3 x 23-7/8
1    Dust seal (front)                 7/8 x 1-1/2 x 40
2    Dust seal (ends)                 7/8 x 1-1/2 x 23-7/8
2    Lid stiles                             7/8 x 4 x 38
2    Lid rails                               7/8 x 4 x 21-7/8
1    Lid panel                             7/8 x 14-3/8 x 30-1/2

Traveling chest

2    Front/Back                           7/8 x 13-1/4 x 38
2    Ends                                    7/8 x 13-1/4 x 18
      Bottom                                 3/4 x 38 x 18 (multiple boards, shiplapped)
3    Battens                                1/2 x 2-1/4 x 18
2    Base skirt (front, back)        7/8 x 4-3/4 x 40
2    Base skirt (ends)                 7/8 x 4-3/4 x 20
2    Top skirt (front, back)          7/8 x 3    x 40
2    Top skirt (ends)                   7/8 x 3 x 20
1    Dust seal (front)                  7/8 x 1-1/2 x 40
2    Dust seal (ends)                  7/8 x 1-1/2 x 20
2    Lid stiles                              7/8 x 4 x 38
2    Lid rails                                7/8 x 4 x 21-7/8
1    Lid panel                              7/8 x 14-3/8 x 30-1/2

More Information about the Class

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $750
Materials Deposit $25

2013 Classes:

September 2-6, 2013  
Build a Tool Chest


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200 Battery Way | Fort Worden | Port Townsend, WA 98368 | (360) 344-4455 | email

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Any donations made to the School are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.