Chris Schwarz's Blog

Quick Like a Dutchman

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During the last year, I have been trying to figure out how to build the Dutch Tool Chest in two days during a class without sacrificing any of the joinery or important handwork lessons.

I think I have it pretty much nailed. If you are interested in building one of these chests (featured in the October 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine) during two long days, here’s how to get it done.

1. Use only four tails per corner when you cut the dovetails that join the bottom and the sides of the chest. Yes, 12 dovetails will impress members of the opposite sex more, but they will be painted blue at the end. So go with four.

2. Commit to assembling the bottom and sides at the end of the first day. This means you should have the dados cut for the shelf or shelves and all the interior surfaces planed up. This is a do-able goal. Today while teaching a class to 13 members of the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association, everybody reach this goal – even people who had never done any woodworking before.

3. If you want to save time, affix the front pieces and back pieces with cut nails or modern screws that are driven with a drill/driver. While in California, I built one of these chests using square-drive screws and clocked all the screws so they looked like diamonds. It didn’t look crappy.

4. Skip the breadboard ends on the lid. They look nice, but battens seem to keep the lid just as flat.

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5. Get the case square in stages. Squaring the case is important, but it can be difficult to do it when you do the first glue-up. Get it close. Then bring it closer when you attach the front piece and the bottom lip. Finish the squaring when you attach the back pieces.

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6. Use an Alaskan dovetail saw, as shown here.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Tomorrow we’ll finish up the tool chests on our second day of class. They will be ready for racks and dividers for the planes. And a paint job.

2 thoughts on “Quick Like a Dutchman

  1. apbeelen

    In true Dutch fashion…make it better and faster.

    I’d like to see a side by side comparison between the Alaskan dovetail saw and Roy Underhill’s single stroke dovetail saw by Lie-Nielsen…and maybe a chainsaw too.

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