Free Project Plan: Country Chest | Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Shop Blog


Building a well-proportioned project is one of the most gratifying things about woodworking. I don’t care if you own a circular saw and a hammer or a robotically controlled multi-axis router set-up, you can build something nice and useful that will last.
That’s the idea behind our “I Can Do That” column, which appears in every issue of Popular Woodworking (and will be the subject of book this fall). We show you how to build a professionally designed project using a few simple tools, such as a jigsaw, drill and hammer.

And we do it all in just two pages of the magazine.

How do we do that? Well, we have a free on-line manual that works hand-in-glove with the published project plans. The project shown in each magazine gives you the blueprints for the project; the on-line manual tells you everything you need to set up a shop with just a few tools and shows you how to perform all the basic operations. It’s a 69-page book, but it grows as we add new techniques.

I know that a lot of beginning woodworkers are frustrated by how many expensive machines it seems you need just to build something. I remember how that felt myself, but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t true. The manual shows you how to really stretch a basic kit of tools. I also know that beginning woodworkers get frustrated when they try to purchase materials for a project. Specialty hardwoods can be tough to find if you don’t know where to look, and some hardware has to be found by mail order. However, we have a solution to that problem as well: Every project we build uses materials you can find at any home center store or well-stocked hardware in the country.


Every issue, we drive down to our local Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick our materials for the “I Can Do That Column.” And we build the project using the tools and processes shown in our manual. And you know what? Despite the fact that many of us here are long-time woodworkers, we think it’s a blast to build the “I Can Do That” project. We get to build something nice using basic tools and materials , and it gets done in a couple afternoons of work.

If you haven’t experienced our “I Can Do That” column yet, I’d like to make you a special offer. Download our free manual here. Then download the free project plans from the February 2007 issue, a Country Chest that Megan Fitzpatrick and I built (and had a great time doing it). It’s a great project , so much so that some friends of Megan saw the chest and immediately commissioned her to make another one for them. We’ve created two versions of the plan. One is a high-resolution file; the other is intended for dial-up users.

ICDT_LO.pdf (196.34 KB)
ICDT_HI.pdf (1.09 MB)

We hope you enjoy this project (and the manual). And, as always, let us know what you think.

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 3 comments
  • Christopher Schwarz

    We are conscious of the safety issue. The first paragraph of the story reads:

    "This rustic hinged-lid box is a design traditionally used as a basic tool chest, but I thought a scaled-down version would make a great chest for stashing toys (with the addition of a safety hinge) or extra grocery bags in the kitchen."

    Several of us have kids and are well aware of their propensity to pinch their own fingers.

    Thanks for the note!

  • rob

    If used as a toy box (as suggested by the picture) I would heartily suggest slow close pneumatic assists, or some other method of slowly closing the top. I still remember getting my fingers crushed by a similar toybox as a child when the lid would come swiftly down. (happened more when my brother was around. hmmm….)

  • vfaulk

    Great project: I teach woodworking in my spare time. BUT the download isn’t down loading. This would be a usful and easy project for a first time wood worker to build. I thank you for this and future projects… back to trying to download. This falls under..things happen…I know ALL about that.I learn from my mistakes, some times I have to do them many times to learn. LOL<br><br>Vince Faulkner<br>Winter Park,Fl.


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