Chris Schwarz's Blog

Boarded Scandinavian Tool Chest – Too Cool


It takes a special tool chest to get me to sit up straight – I’ve spent the last six or seven years of my life researching and writing about tool chests. But this one, presumably Swedish, is fantastic.

It was recently sold on this auction site for an astonishing sum.

While the composition of all the tools, burl handles and color scheme is nice, what is most fascinating is the way the box is put together with screws and beadboard. The ends of the chest are framed – perhaps with mortise-and-tenon joints. But the majority of the chest is built by layering pieces on top of one another and screwing them together.


Also clever is the lid with the hinged doors. After studying the photos it looks like the left door is shut first and locked in place with sliding locks. Then you close the right door (there’s a dust seal on its front) and lock that to the other door with a wooden catch.

The hinged doors create a nice space that I would guess is nice to work out of.

If you look close you can also see how the chest has been changed several times in the last 100 years or so.

Thanks to Richard O. Byrne for digging this one up for me.

— Christopher Schwarz

10 thoughts on “Boarded Scandinavian Tool Chest – Too Cool

  1. ChrisB

    My brain is already trying to convert that lid idea to suit the chest I am designing following Chris’ design approaches … There is definitely mileage in this, but I’m thinking slightly shorter doors to allow for easy till removal.

  2. wpostma

    Have you ever seen handles like those? The straps appear to be constructed so that the weight of picking up a full tool chest is distributed across the side panel more than it would otherwise have been distributed. I love those handles. I would build this chest if I could find cool looking handles like that.


  3. tailwagger

    Too cool indeed! I love to gatefold lid doors that prop the lid to create a sweet space. Like the colors. Not sure about screwing into end grain. How in the world did that hold up over the years? And why are there tacks or nails in the end boards of the top of the lid? Was it canvas covered at some point in its history?

    It would appear the lid was cut out of a fully assembled box. Yes? Not an unheard of practice, but I’m trying to decide if that’s offputing for me as tends to look like what it is, a kerf rather than a fit line. But I reckon that could be part of it’s intended character by showcasing sawyer skills. Plus, I guess the box-to-lid fit is kind of built in so it’s very functional.

    1. Merl

      tailwagger, I have to agree with you about the lid.
      I’m afraid it doesn’t look so much like a demonstration of the work mans skill, as it does that the box was fully assembled and then it was realized it didn’t have a lid to open.
      I really like the idea of cutting open the completed box to create the lid but, perhaps not in this case with the framed ends (?)
      I like this chest though. It feels very inviting and familiar.
      With the green paint and the slats behind the hanging tools, it reminds me of being a boy and sneaking tools from my fathers work bench. I think with the “wings” of the lid open wide it be just like our old garage !
      Thanks for sharing this one, Chris.

  4. BobGroh

    I really like the idea of the foldout tool holders – very neat idea. The foldouts would also hold open the top. Such a neat idea in a tool chest.

  5. comboprof

    I guess by “an astonishing sum” you mean very cheaply, 6600 Swedish Krona is about $805 U.S. Dollars. Considering it came with all the tools included, the auction winner got it for a song.

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