This week, I built a lower cabinet for my small Dutch tool chest, a project featured in the October 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The unit I just built sits below the tool chest proper and does a few nice things.
1. It gives me extra space for tooling and hardware that I sometimes need to drag along to classes I teach.
2. It raises the main tool well of the Dutch chest about 12”, meaning I don’t have to put the chest on a sawbench to raise it to a pleasant working height.
3. Four 2” metal casters make the whole thing easy to roll around. The fact that the two units can be taken apart makes it easy to transport everything in my SUV.
I built this lower unit while simultaneously teaching a class on building the upper unit at Roy Underhill’s The Woodwright’s School – with the help of your helpful editor, Megan Fitzpatrick. Here are some details of the lower unit’s construction (a SketchUp drawing and cutting list can be found in this earlier entry).
The case’s sides, top and bottom are joined with through-dovetails – four tails to a corner to make things easy. The back of the case is made using tongue-and-grooved boards. That’s all pretty typical stuff. The front of the case, however, is a little unusual.
The front of the case has two rails – one at the top and one at the bottom – that are glued and nailed to the dovetailed case. Between these rails is a loose panel, called the fall-front, which is secured to the case with a sliding lock that works like a machinist’s chest.
The lock is simple. A thin slip of wood slides between notches and catches in the carcase and the fall-front. If you study the SketchUp drawing for 5 minutes, you’ll get a full understanding of the mechanism.
Several of the students asked about how the locking mechanism on the lower cabinet would work with the locking mechanism on the upper cabinet. Here is the answer:
They lock independently. When moving the chests, I’ll lock the top cabinet and put it in my truck. Then I’ll lock the lower cabinet and put it in my truck. When I get to my destination, I’ll remove the lower cabinet and unlock it. Then I’ll put the top cabinet on top of that and unlock it.
So yeah, I can’t lock and unlock the lower cabinet while it is below the top cabinet. And yeah, I could have gotten around this little tiny problem by using a cupboard lock on the lower cabinet. But I wanted the two cabinets to use the same mechanism so they look like they were made for each other. Which they were.
At the end of this three-day class, Megan and I loaded up the lower cabinet with nails and a bunch of extra detritus I’d hauled down for the class. Then we locked it up and rolled it out of the way. Nice.
When I get home on Monday I’ll paint the sucker black and start applying stickers to the new unit of the chest. Roy gave me a new sticker that features a toad that’s riding a stork. I think that’s what it is.
— Christopher Schwarz
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