This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
Tool-chest. A convenient chest for holding cabinet-making tools is shown in Fig. 682, as described by Cabe in Design and Work. It is 3 ft. 1 in., by 1 ft. 8 in., by 1 ft. 8 in. inside measurement, with a till the full length of the inside, 9 in. broad and 10 1/2 in. deep. The body of the chest is made of 7/8-in. best yellow pine, with a skirting of oak round the lid. The till and the inside of the lid are veneered with rosewood and walnut. The 2 sides are squared up 3 ft. 3 in. long and 1 ft. 8 in. broad, and the 2 ends 1 ft. 10 in. long and 1 ft. 8 in. broad. They are previously slipped on the upper edge - that is, a thin slip of plain walnut, say 3/8 in. thick, is glued on what is to be the upper edge of each piece. These 4 pieces are dovetailed together, the dovetails 1 1/2 in. apart and all going quite through the thickness of the wood. Before glueing the pieces together, 2 fillets a of mahogany, I in. broad and 5/8 in. thick, with a groove in the centre, are glued and screwed to the inside of the ends at a distance of 10 3/4 in. from the upper edge; these are to receive a sliding board 11 in. broad, which slides underneath the till, which, when pushed back, covers the planes and tools in the space b, and, when pulled forward, covers the tools in the space c.
This board may well be left out. A partition board d between b and c comes nearly up to the sliding board, and is grooved into the 2 ends. A second partition e in the middle of the space b is 4 in. broad, and is also let into the ends. These 2 partitions are made of 1/2-in. wood, and these grooves must be made in the ends to receive them before the body is knocked together. A stain of Venetian red and ochre, with a little glue size, is made somewhat thin, and applied hot to the wood with a piece of cotton rag; then, after standing for a few minutes, as much as will come off is rubbed with another piece of rag, stroking always with the grain. In a short time this stain will dry, when it is sandpapered, using the finest. The body is next put together with thin glue, using a small brush for the dovetails, and taking care that no glue gets on to the inner surface, as taking it off afterwards leaves an unsightly mark. It must be borne in mind that in dovetailing a box such as this, the " pins " are always on the end pieces; consequently they are cut first. In "rapping" the body together, a somewhat heavy hammer is used, and always with a piece of wood to protect the work from injury. The 4 corners are glued and rapped up close.
The box has to be "squared." A rod of wood, made like a wedge at one end, and applied from corner to corner diagonally inside, is the readiest method of squaring, a pencil mark being made on the side of the rod just where the side and end meet; then the rod being placed diagonally from the other 2 corners, the pencil mark will show at once whether the box is squared or not; and, if not, the long corner must be pressed or pushed to bring it to the square. A bottom / is nailed on of 5/8-in. wood, with the grain running across - i. e. from back to front. Then a band g of wood, 2 1/2 in. broad and 1 in. thick, is nailed over the bottom, and flush with the outside of the box all round. The 2 long pieces are nailed on first, and the end ones are fitted between them. To secure these bars or bands properly, a few l 1/4-in. screws should be passed through the bottom from the inside into them. The box is then planed truly on the outside all round, finishing with a hand-plane and sandpaper. A band h is made to go round the sides at the bottom, and another i at the top or upper edge; that at the bottom is 3 1/2 in. broad and 5/8 in. thick, and that at the top 2 1/2 in. broad and 5/8 in. thick.
It makes the best job to dovetail these bands at the corners, making them of a size to slip exactly on to the body of the chest. The upper edge of the bottom band, and the lower edge of the upper, are moulded either with an "ogee" or "quarter round." When the bottom band is in a position for nailing, it covers the bottom bars and the edge of the bottom, coming up the sides of the box about 2 in. The upper band is fixed 3/8 in. below the edge of the body; this forms a check for the lid, the bottling for the lid being made to check down on this band. The lid is made of pine, 7/8 in. or 1 in. thick; it has cross ends, 2 1/2 in. broad, mortised on. These prevent the lid splitting or warping. After they are glued and cramped on, the lid is evenly planed and squared to the proper size, which is 1/16 in. larger than the body of the box on front and ends, and \ in. over the back. The lid is fitted with 3 brass butt hinges 3 in. long. The lid, being temporarily fitted, is taken off, and a skirting put round it - that is, on front and ends. This skirting is 1 1/4 in. broad, and 7/8 in. thick, of hard wood - oak or black birch. To make a first-rate job of this skirting it should be grooved, as also the chest-lid and slip feathers inserted. It should also be nailed with fine wrought brads.
After it is firmly fixed and dry, it is rounded on the outer edge. The extent of the rounding is found by shutting down the lid and drawing all round at the edge of the band, over which the skirting projects about 5/16 in. The inside of the lid may be panelled. This panelling is simply a flat veneered surface, the 2 panels being root walnut, and the borders rosewood; the veneering must be done before the skirting is put on. The 2 panels are laid first; when dry, the cutting gauge is set to 2 1/4 in., and cuts away the over veneer all round, which, of course, gives a border of 2 1/2 in. to be veneered with the rosewood; 2 1/4 in. also divides the 2 panels in the centre, and the 8 corners are marked off with compasses set to 1 1/2 in., and cut clean out with a gouge. All the edges are planed with the iron plane, and the rosewood border is planed and jutted all round in the form of "banding" - that is, with the grain running across and not the lengthway of the borders. The round corners are fitted in in 2 pieces mitred in the centre. A till has now to be made. The body or carcase of this is entirely of 1/2-in. wood. It has 2 drawers in the length at the bottom, 3 in. deep on the face; 3 in the centre in the length, 2 1/2 in. deep on the face; and over these is a tray, covered by a lid.
The face of this tray is in the form of 4 drawers, which are shams. The drawers are 9 in. broad from front to back, and run on shelves 1/2 in. thick, with divisions between of the same thickness. The shelves and divisions, as also the edge of the lifting lid, are slipped with rosewood on the fore edges, and the drawers being veneered with root walnut, the whole has a good effect. The lifting lid is panelled with veneer, similar to the lid of the chest, the rosewood border being 1 1/2 in. broad. It is hinged with 3 brass butts, 1 1/2 in. long, to the back of the till, which projects upwards the thickness of the lid, and is veneered also with rosewood. This lid may be made of bay mahogany or good pine; and if of the latter, it must be veneered on the under side with plain walnut or mahogany, to counteract that on the top and prevent warping. The carcase (case) of this till is constructed as follows: - The 2 ends are cross-headed on the upper edge: these are 1 1/4 in. broad, and may be put on with the ploughs. Then the bottom and 2 shelves are squared up to the length of inside of the chest, having been previously slipped on the fore edges with rosewood 1/8 in. thick.
The bottom is dovetailed into the 2 ends, while the 2 shelves are mortised or let into the ends with square tenons, which pass quite through, and are wedged. The divisions between the drawers are let through, and wedged in the same manner. The front of the tray, which has the appearance of 4 drawers, is of 1/2-in. mahogany, veneered with root walnut, like the drawer fronts, and an imitation of the fore edges made on it by glueing slips of rosewood, 1/2 in. broad, to represent the fore edges. The walnut front must, of course, be sandpapered before these are put on. The 5 drawers k are made entirely of straight, plain, bay mahogany, 1/4 in. thick, excepting the fronts, which are 1/2 in. The knobs l are of rosewood, 3/4 in. diameter. The tray, covered by the hinged lid, is so deep as to hold the brace or tools of the like bulk. The left end may be occupied with 3 shallow trays, one over the other, for holding the several bits belonging to the brace, and are very handy, as the bits can be arranged in order, and the trays may be lifted out to the bench, when a number of the bits is wanted. The remainder of the tray is lined with green frieze, and holds the brace, spirit-level, gauges, squares, and other of the finer tools.
The 2 long drawers at the bottom are used for chisels, gouges, spoke-shaves, mitre-squares, etc, while the 3 upper ones are for gimlets, bradawls, compasses, pliers, and sundry small tools. In the space b, in the body of the chest and under the till, the planes are arranged as shown. In front of them is a space 4 in. broad and the full length of the chest. In it long tools, such as the trammels, are kept, and any planes that the back space will not admit, such as raglets or grooving planes, which have 2 wedges. It is also useful for holding drawings of large dimensions, rolled up, where they are safe from damage, and in cases of removal it is the receptacle for the hand-saws and other tools which usually hang upon the wall.