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Thread: Toolchest Lid-Mounted Tools

  1. #1
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    Toolchest Lid-Mounted Tools

    Sawmill Creek is flowing sluggishly under the ice today, so I thought I would post something.

    Some of you may recall my mentioning in a post a year or so ago that I was reworking the methods of mounting tools inside the lid of my old toolchest. My day job has kept me very busy since then, but I finished the work over the holidays, and so at last I can post some photos.

    Some background first. I made this dovetailed and frame & panel toolchest in 1992 - 1993 of Honduras mahogany. The design is generally based on drawings I found 20 years ago in an old British book of woodworking instruction. One major departure from the British design was the addition of the 5" deep lid, a feature that, besides providing the most easily-accessible space in the chest, has been very effective in keeping the lid tight and warpage-free.

    The original varnish finish looked good when new, but it did not age well after 17 years of use and several international moves, so I refinished it with milkpaint in 2011 after reading The Anarchist’s Toolchest. I did not follow Mr. Schwarz’s example of topcoating the milkpaint with custom-mixed black latex paint, but protected it with only a thin coat of polyurethane ala Mike Dunbar. I think this has worked out well.

    I did follow Mr. Schwarz's example in refinishing the interior with shellac. This was a huge improvement over the old Watco Danish Oil.

    With this newest configuration, I can access 80% of the tools I use most often directly from the lid and top tray, without having to move trays or bend over at all. This saves me time, and my old back complains less as a result.

    Saws are stored in a standalone saw till, a frame & panel box with a hinged lid and a drawer, also per the British design, and which fits precisely into the well in front of the trays.

    This latest configuration of tools is the result of a lot of trial and error. I will continue to modify it as time allows and whimsy prompts, but it is good enough for now. As you can imagine, the hardest part was mounting as many tools as possible in easily accessible locations, but in a way that keeps them securely in place when the lid is opened and closed. There is plenty of room for improvement, but time and tide and all that rot.

    The lid contains 2 dividers, 3 straightedges, 1 caliper, 1 combo square, 3 precision try squares, a bevel gage, 8 marking gages (4 Kinshiro), a wooden crane & tortise sumitsubo (functional but mostly decorative), a wooden-handled screwdriver, 2 spiral screwdrivers with various bits and gimlets, an egg beater drill, 8 hammers and gennou, a protractor head, a brace and 20 bits, inkbottle, a 10-pc set of Kiyohisa oire chisels, and the indispensible sokozarai chisel at the far right.

    The hammers are held in their slots by super magnets. The marking gages are retained by sliding their beams, or one of their two blades in the case of the Kinshiro kama kebiki, up and locking them in place. The chisels are retained by both friction in their slots, and pressure from the sprung wooden panel behind their blades. The drill bits are stored behind this panel. Unfortunately not easy to get at. The sumitsubo is retained by a fitted wooden hook and a leather thong. Most everything else is retained by various kinds of latches. Everything stays in place, but I would probably need to tie the hammers down more securely if I had to roll the chest any distance over a rough surface.

    When the lid is up, I normally cover the opening to the lower portion with an old furoshiki cloth to keep out dust.

    If you have any suggestions for improving either the configuration or the methods of securing the tools, please let me know.

    Stan
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 01-24-2016 at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Man, that's a nice toolbox! And the way you've configured the lid maximizes every cubic inch of storage space. Being able to insert your plane till into it is a great idea too. The finish is beautiful. (I'm learning to really like shellac. On the right woods it just looks "warm" to me.)

    Stan, I'm curious about the tool that seems to have cotton and blue twine coming out of it - is that your tsumitsubo? What is that tool used for? The twine and wheel remind me of a chalk line, but I can't guess why a chalk line would need that cotton.

    Fred

  3. #3
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    Wow! That's a feast for the eyes
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  4. #4
    Very very nice!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    Man, that's a nice toolbox! And the way you've configured the lid maximizes every cubic inch of storage space. Being able to insert your plane till into it is a great idea too. The finish is beautiful. (I'm learning to really like shellac. On the right woods it just looks "warm" to me.)

    Stan, I'm curious about the tool that seems to have cotton and blue twine coming out of it - is that your tsumitsubo? What is that tool used for? The twine and wheel remind me of a chalk line, but I can't guess why a chalk line would need that cotton.

    Fred
    Thanks, Fred.

    Shellac is great stuff! I hadn't used it until this project. I only wish it was more durable.

    As you said, the tool you mentioned is indeed a sumitsubo, meaning "ink pot" in Japanese. The one in my toolchest is a traditional Kanto (Tokyo area) style model with a crank on the reel. There are many different varieties. Mine has the traditional turtle carved on one edge of the "pond" and a stork on the edge and nose opposite. In Japan, the stork is said to bring happiness, and lives for a thousand years, while the turtle is a fortuitous animal said to bring long life, and lives 10,000 years.

    The silk tow soaks up the ink, and the blue silk line (new and as yet unused in this case, so its not yet black), runs from the circular reel at the back through the ink-soaked silk wadding, and out the mouth. There is a bit of wood with a steel pin at the end of the line to attach the line to the wood to be marked. After that, it's used just like a chalk line.



    This is a link to a really large and fancy one, with an added tiger as well, made by a famous carver. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVbmz5p3p0w

    The sumitsubo has the advantage of making a darker, narrower line compared to a chalk line, which tend to be wider and fuzzy. You can buy ink in black, red, white, blue and orange, and in even some in waterproof formulations.

    For rougher work, such as laying out lines on concrete slabs, chalk lines are frequently superior, IMO. But for woodworking, at least where one needs a straight line longer than the length of a straightedge or framing square, the sumitsubo works best. I'd be lost without mine.

    Below the wooden sumitsubo in the picture of my toolchest's lid, you can see a blue plastic modern version. Much more practical, less mess, the ink stays wet longer, it has a spring-loaded reel, and it's a lot cheaper than my hand carved traditional one. You should give one a try sometime. You never know... you might get to like having black lines on your fingertips!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h70nm9allo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw8ydOnOyHU



    I'll try to post some pics of the sawtill later if you're interested.

    Stan
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 01-24-2016 at 11:42 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    The finish is beautiful. (I'm learning to really like shellac. On the right woods it just looks "warm" to me.)Fred
    One more bit of clarification about the decision to use shellac inside the toolchest when I refinished it.

    I wrote I used Watco Danish Oil originally. I don't know if you have noticed, but in an enclosed space like a toolchest or cabinet, oil or resin-based finishes line BLO, WDO, varnish or polyurethane stink horribly for literally years, something Mr. Schwarz pointed out in the Anarchist's Toolchest. But the shellac he recommended smells pleasant from day one.

    I highly recommend it.

    Stan
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 01-24-2016 at 10:38 AM.

  7. #7
    Stan, thanks for explaining that and the links! I enjoyed learning about this.

    Yes, if you have time, I'd like to see that saw till sometime.

    Thanks again,
    Fred

  8. #8
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    Nice box, nice photos and thanks for the ink pot explanation. What do you recon the box weighs when fully loaded out? What do you do with it when shipping it internationally - just close it up and send it away or does in need any type exterior strapping to ensure it stays closed or any interior buffering with soft stuff? Does Customs bother with it?
    David

  9. #9
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    Beautiful box bud. Found a lot of room under the lid there.

  10. #10
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    That is a healthy tool addiction Stanley!
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  11. #11
    Hope you have some strong hinges!

    It looks great, almost Studleyesk, allthough I hope you have easier access to your tools.

    BTW, I know about the lingering smell of oil finishes. One of my kitchen cabinets has that smell. Allthough I made sure to only use oil on the outside, some must have gotten inside as well.

  12. #12
    Stanley, that is an amazing tool chest and some clever tool holders. What is that neat axe in the bottom of the chest?

  13. #13
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    Stan,

    Beautiful job. By the way, I think you have more tools in the lid of your chest than I do in my two carpenter type boxes. Very impressive, beautiful workmanship, and impressive in the way you stored the tools so they stay in place and are accessible.

    Yes! Please add photos of the saw till if you get time. I hope to learn something from the way you made the till. If and when I ever build a chest, if it is 1/3rd as well organized and 1/2 half as nice I will be extremely pleased.

    Stew

  14. #14
    Super job on something almost all want. I think making one is easier than designing one, looks like taking things out and putting them back in the right spot is a real possibility!

  15. #15
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    Superb job Stanley - nice work and nice tools.

    Dave B

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