Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dutch Tool Chest - in Spain! Part I

I was able to spend some quality time the last couple days in the office with a new project, a Dutch tool chest!

This project started a few weeks ago with a trip to the local home center on the bus.
Jonas says these wheelie bags are only for old people.
I haven't yet found a lumberyard nearby that I can get to without a car, so I am stuck with public transportation. I was able to get all of this lumber in my wheelie bag normally reserved for grocery shopping!

I'm lucky that this home center has such nice plastic-wrapped laminated pine. They are glued from long pieces of wood.
If you dig through the pile, there are often boards as nice as this!
I came to Spain with a limited tool set, and when I went to Denmark, I seem to have left my combination square at home in Munich. When I mentioned the problem to Jonas, he suggested using a piece of printer paper.
Testing for square with a piece of printer paper.
Even though I have a pair of saw benches, there are some operations that still must be done on the floor. Shooting these wide boards is one. I think I am getting used to shooting this way - marking a square line and planing to it.

With the two side pieces picked out and the bottom cut to length, I can plane the edges. I made one edge smooth on each side, then clamped them together to gang-plane them in the hope they will all turn out the same width.
Here is where I really miss my square, but the eye is pretty accurate when it has to be.
With that done, I can start dovetails. Last time I risked the death penalty by sawing them clamped to our brand new sideboard. Now that I have some saw benches, I'll try some less-risky (to my health) work holding.
I did buy a pair of C-clamps.
This is the first time I ever gang-cut dovetails. It seems to have worked. And, I am amazed I can cut dovetails with the same saw I use to break down rough lumber.
Gratuitous Dick saw shot.
These saw benches make a world of difference. Getting things off the floor makes it much easier to work longer and requires less ibuprofen.
Chiseling out the waste after coping. BTW, I love having sun light in the shop.
Having low benches isn't perfect, but with a bit of thinking about a workholding problem, most things can be solved.
Marking the pins.
With no joinery planes here, I wasn't able to plane a shallow rabbet on the pins. I had to forgo that trick. Cross your fingers!
Cutting the pins.
With the dovetails done, It is time to cut the grooves for the shelves. I used a leg from the broken safari chair as a saw guide.
Once again, A4 paper to the rescue!
The chair leg worked brilliantly, but it was a bit too tall for my Ryoba Dick saw. I solved that problem by removing the handle.
Sawing crossgrain kerfs for shelf dadoes.
It takes a light touch, as there are sharp teeth on both sides of this blade. With a bit of care it can be done.
This is how I sawed the dado.

Approaching the line.
Sawing that way works great. All that is left is to hog out the waste with a chisel and clean it up with a router plane.
Oops! I don't have a router plane. I guess do it all with a chisel!
The next step is to cut the angle on the side pieces. I then clamped them together, clamped the whole works to a saw bench and smooth the ends.
Aren't self-timers a great invention?
Glue up. I didn't have a clamp wide enough, so I just glued the snot out of everything and pounded it home with a mallet.
I thought it was a booger, but it's not. (You have to say that out loud for it to be funny.)
Now I get to try my new tapered drill bit to make pilot holes for Roman nails!
Pretty, isn't it?
Well, while I was trying to take this fancy shot, the eggbeater fell on the floor and broke the tip off of the tapered drill bit. I was able to finish with it, but that bit now likes to wander all over the place.
Not sure this art shot was worth it.
Mike Siemsen left a comment on my Instagram recomending I just cut the head off of one of these nails and use that for a tapered pilot hole drill bit. Great idea!

I've been thinking of ways to keep the lid and the front panel flat with battens. I don't really want to use screws on this project, so I thought I would make a test to see if I could clench these Roman nails to join two pieces of this pine.
It works brilliantly!
So that means I'll be clenching some nails on those panels.

That's all I have completed so far.
Well, it holds tools!
I was trying to figure out how to make tongue and groove or shiplap with no joinery planes for the back boards, and was inspired to spend thirty minutes making Paul Sellers' version of a rabbet plane out of construction pine. We'll find out tomorrow how well it works.
A Paul Sellers tool on a Christopher Schwarz tool chest.


  1. I think this will be a very beneficial project. I personally love my dutch toolchest - even when it is build from plywood. The formfactor makes the difference.
    Interesting to see your limited tool build procedere.

    1. Thanks, Wolfram! I agree about the benefits. I work out of an ATC in Munich, and honestly I miss my tool chest more than I miss my workbench.

  2. Nice work! You and Jonas seem to have become the leaders of the "No Excuses" movement. Although you may get yourself into trouble waving your Dick saw around so much. ;)

    1. Haha! Thanks, Greg! I've always thought that you should get woodworking with whatever resources you have, but Jonas has definitely been an inspiration.

  3. I love that you transport wood in that senior citizen's shopping bag :-)

    The build looks great so far. I am amazed that you out of the blue just make a good looking plane like that for planing rabbets.

    Figuring out how to do tasks with a limited tool set really requires some ingenuity, like removing the saw handle and inventing new work holding methods.
    Another option to the work holding is to do the pins first. That will get the job done with a bit of balancing. I just had to say that, since my dad isn't on blogger to make a comment about it.


    1. Haha! I can hear your dad now, talking about "cowboy tricks." I actually like pins first for exactly that reason. I just wanted to give gang-cutting pins a go.

      I've found that I do have a few tools I left behind that I rely on. My rabbet plane is one. Once I remembered the Sellers video, I had to try it. I'm sure this plane won't syrvive long, but it should last long enough for this.

      And don't make fun of my wheelie bag! 😀

    2. I wouldn't dream of making fun of a bag that automatically gets you 10% discount on the bus plus ensures that young people get up and leave their seat for you :-)

    3. Senior citizen shopping bag tst tst, Jonas, you go wash that mouth of yours with soap young man! :-)

      Great display of ingenuity, keep up the good work..... without risking endangering your life with the Frau ha ha :-)

      Bob, back home to a snow storm, yeah.....

  4. Brian,
    Paul Sellers have a video on "poor man's drill bit" just like the 'Noviseatall-Guy' tip.

    Great project!

    1. Hi António! I couldn't find that video with a quick search. Do you have a link?


    2. Her it goes:

  5. Paul Sellers has also various poor man's router: one with a chisel and one with a sharpened screw.

  6. What about "Spanish windlass" where you otherwise would need long clamps for glue up.

    CD/CD-ROM/DVD jewel cases are perfectly square, although A4 paper is bigger.

    1. Good idea. I've used CD cases before as a square, but believe it or not, I don't have one here.


  7. "no-excuses-woodworking". YEAH!
    I often hear the elder or the professionals saying, that it is the ability of mind and hand that lead you to a craftsman.
    Although you got access to all "the good stuff" you show us (and yourself) that there are many ways to work wood. Thank your for that.
    By the way: Do you remember, it's been only a few years ago, that people scoofed at the travellers who were pulling their luggage instead of carrying...?!
    So, go ahead young man and turn the best of every age into something workable.

    1. Haha! That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!

      I appreciate it.

  8. Hi Brian,

    Jonas and you show how to do great woodworking without a big workshop full of tools. Very cool.

  9. Another great post, Brian. I was thinking about buying a set of Harbor Freight chisels ($10) for the rabbet plane, seems like a good match. I also like Greg's phrase -- it reflects the way you work. (Jonas, too, except for the wheelie bag bit.)

    1. Thanks, Jeff! I wouldn't buy a whole set for a rabbet plane, a 1/2" or 5/8", or whatever you already have should do.

  10. what about your ATC? why didn't you bring it over?

    1. It exceeded the luggage limits from the airline. 😀

      Actually, I left most everything in Munich. We are only here temporarily for 2-4 years, and it was clear I didn't have a proper shop here.