A smart and efficient home for your hand tools.


Mike Pekovich’s tool chest is incredibly well designed.  You can tell that he took a lot of time to plan the layout.  There is little to no wasted space and each tool has a specific place, making it far less likely that the toolbox will become cluttered and disorganized.

In centuries past, a well-constructed tool chest was the mark of a distinguished craftsman.  Woodworkers displayed their joinery prowess with finely cut dovetails, through tenons and pinned joints.  They often carved intricate designs into the top of the chest or used a variety of woods to inlay banding around the drawer faces.

There has been a resurgence in the design and use of traditional tool chests.  The Cabinet and Furniture Making program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston often uses a tool chest project to help students learn fine woodworking.

Christopher Schwarz, from Popular Woodworking and the Lost Art Press, has published a book titled “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest” that is a primary driver in the resurgence of the exquisitely designed and constructed tool chest.

Traditional woodworking giants such as Roy Underhill and Peter Follansbee also find merit in the hand built tool chest.


Designing and building your own small tool chest is a great project to learn new joinery.  It will also help you decide which tools are critical and which can be left in the cabinet.  It’s worth taking the time to build a cardboard mockup and trace your tools in pencil to figure out the most efficient layout.

At a minimum, your chest should include dedicated space for the following essential tools:

  1. Crosscut / Tenon saw
  2. Dovetail saw
  3. Coping saw
  4. Bench and Mortise Chisels
  5. Marking Gauge
  6. Square
  7. Sliding Bevel
  8. Bench / Jack Plane
  9. Block Plane
  10. Hand Drill and Bits
  11. Slotted and Phillips screw driver
  12. Small wood mallet

It is also helpful to install a bracket on the back of a small tool chest to secure a medium sized hand saw used for cutting lumber to rough length.  The modern induction hardened 20 inch handsaw common in home improvement stores is great for this.  The teeth are very sharp and it can even be used for ripping lumber in a pinch.



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