A Hand Tool Cabinet: The Case

by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

This project marks a milestone for me.  It is my first project that goes heavy on the joinery.  The hand tool cabinet includes nearly 50 dovetails, through tenons, slip tenons, and rabbets.  As a result, it is proving to be a valuable learning experience.

While power tools speed the build process, hand tools prove indispensable.  Most noteworthy, is the humble chisel.  To say that this project has honed my chisel skills would be an understatement.  Chisels are vital for paring dovetail pins, chopping to baselines, and paring shoulders.

The Build

I began with the tail boards.  I cut these at the table saw using a special blade (click here for more information).  Then, I used the tail boards to mark the location on the pins on the pin boards.  Next, I cut the pins using a dovetail saw.  I removed most of the waste with a fret saw.  Finally, I used a trim router to remove the rest of the waste.  I’ll write a follow-up article on this later.

With the dovetails complete, I moved on to the tenons for the shelf.  These are through tenons, so layout is critical.  I cut the tenons on the table saw, and used the same router method mentioned earlier to get to the baseline.  Then, I used the tenons to mark the mortise locations.  I drilled out most of the waste at the drill press.  Finally, I cleaned up the rest of the waste with a sharp chisel.  I started fitting the tenons from the outside to avoid overshooting and producing gaps.  I did end up with a few minor gaps.  However, working from the outside definitely helped.  I believe this was the most difficult part of the build, so far.

With the case joinery complete, I cut the rabbet for the back at the table saw, and ganged up the hinge mortises.  For the hinge mortises, I used my cross-cut sled and a spacer.  I cut the spacer the same length as my hinges minus the kerf of my saw blade.  Then, I used the spacer with stop blocks to zip through the mortises.

Finally, I finished all of my surfaces with a wash coat of shellac and glued everything up.  Having the back already cut really helped to square everything up.  Before starting on the doors, I went ahead and completed the plane till.  I think it looks great so far.

Next up, doors and more tool storage.  Stay tuned for more of the hand tool cabinet.

You can check out my previous post here: Lumber Selection

Additionally, you can check out my next post here: The Doors