Paul Sellers’ Joiner’s travelling tool chest

Another tool chest of a different kind

I designed this joiner’s tool chest many years ago and though it follows something of a traditional pattern, I improved the design and designed it as more a training project because I wanted to include other important features people might want to learn from as they make it. With no more than about ten hand tools and three types of joints, this tool box will last for a lifetime. Not readily apparent are the intrinsic features I incorporated for training. The fall-front door and rear panel feature haunched mortise and tenon joints to make the frame and within those two frames are raised panels following the ‘pillow’ effect used by the Shakers. I love the softened look that this gives to the doors and also they preservation of the tradition in my work and teaching. The superstructure is through or common dovetails and this gives the tremendous strength that dovetails are known for. Within the box I have included two tills for holding smaller tools and sets such as chisels and squares, bullnose planes and so on. The tills as you can see have the signature joint of drawer making, half-lap dovetails, but I added a housing dado tenon combination. This gives the housing dado greater mechanical strength and also allows the extension of the drawer in the recess of the main box so that when you pull the drawer to access inside you can see all the way to the back of the till.
This project was actually an article commissioned for the Popular Woodworking magazine years ago but I never knew if it was published or not because I don’t generally subscribe to woodworking magazines.
I enjoyed making this tool chest. It takes about three days to make and will be another online broadcast presentation some time in the near future. Though this looks nice when finished with shellac, which is durable and protective and feels nice when waxed and finished, I will use shellac only as a foundation for my painted treatment in solid green, water-based acrylic followed by shellac and wax polish.

My Foundational Course Part II

The Foundational Part II is half way through at the time of writing and all is going really well. I love these workshops. Watching the confidence levels rise and the way people work their planes and chisels becomes generally problem free, but there are still techniques to learn for wiry and no knotty grain so we continue training to gain the insights they need for any situation they might encounter. Soon we start the table workshop and that too is always a fine learning experience as the tolerances tighten and we work in solid oak.


  1. Stephen P on 28 June 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I love this tool box. I can’t wait to make them through the online courses.

  2. Doug Fish on 24 January 2015 at 3:34 am

    Was this ever recorded as an online broadcast….can’t seem to find it nor does it appear in the master level program of which I belong?

  3. Rob Appelman on 8 January 2017 at 1:50 pm

    I like this tool chest very much, are there drawing / plans available ?

    kind regards,

    Rob Appelman

  4. Igor on 13 July 2017 at 9:31 am

    I would like to ask just one question, how big is it? l,w,h? Please, Paul, could you tell me them?

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