Trash to treasured chest

My Creative Workspace


A short time ago I posted about a shabby looking mahogany box I found at a car boot sale here. I say found but a better word might be rescued had the abandoned box had any life left in it really. As pulled the box from other junk surrounding it a diminutive man with a non-diminutive voice prompted, “Five quid.” The suddenly proud owner gave me the once over and decided I was mug enough for a daylight robbery. I reacted as he hoped and quickly said, “I’ll give you four.”k. Four fifty, it’s solid ‘meogany’.” he tossed back. I pulled the five coins and passed them to him. As I walked away I argued back and forth with myself. “I can’t believe I did that.”  The box under my arm had seen better days, but the splits showed rougher days and the shrink cracks traversed the full width of the box.





“Four fifty for a junker like this.” I argued the more. But it was the dovetails that had gripped me. Perfection in every one I took apart and all straight from the saw. People think that dovetails are never glued, but that’s not true. Most are. This box had no glue anywhere yet it held together for 100 years of use or more.



The lock was busted out and I have to tell you a short story here: Some weeks ago I forgot the key to my large tool chest. I had to cut through the box lock receiver to get to my tools in the immediacy of the moment. My class was assembling and I needed my tools out.



A few days later I bought a replacement lock because I needed the receiver. It cost £14, but what could I do? Anyway, I looked at the yawning recess in my new find and then remembered the box lock I had bought. I offered it to the recess and it fit perfectly with no iota of a gap. The key and keyhole, the screw holes, everything, lined up perfectly.



The box filled the bill I needed for a compact tool box for my personal chisels and my layout tools.



Here you can see that the box has become a treasure to hold the important tools I use and treasure. This box will remain on my workbench here at the woodworking school.



The very special Marples bevel edged chisels I bought online from eBay and have replaced those I had to leave behind in the USA now have a new home. I made the lift out tray from mahogany for convenience. Things like this enhance my creative workspace and bring order to the way I work. I am happy with the end results.




I like the way the tools lay side by side. My lovely bronze spokeshave that my son Joseph made for me in 2004. The very rare Mathieson of Liverpool open handled dovetail saw I recovered from irrecoverable condition a few years ago, when I was about to chuck. I couldn’t believe I could restore that either. I am so very blessed.



  1. Stephen P on 28 June 2013 at 2:53 pm

    That is a very nice tool box. Did you re-sand and refinish it too? It looks amazing.

    • Paul Sellers on 29 June 2013 at 9:58 am

      Yes, I reworked everything into a finished unit.

  2. Joseph Hall on 8 January 2018 at 12:31 am

    Hi Paul, what did you do to address the full-width shrink cracks? I love your blog and videos thank you for sharing it all.