A Tool-Drawered Unit

At what point something becomes a chest I am not sure. Probably more than two drawers I seem to remember from my early days with George. I made this one well over two decades ago and now find it an indispensable place for my special tools and equipment. It’s one of those pieces where simplicity of design speaks for itself. Taking small units out of the realms of being fussy and complicated is the art of objectivity. The piece is simple enough; it ticks many boxes as far as functionality and usefulness goes. I think we all underestimate just how many loose misfit tools we have that defy hanging, free-standing and slotting for stowage goes. My apron bench drawer is a godsend to me, but since I retrieved my two drawered unit back from storage in Texas I wonder how I ever did without it.

Here’s another neat thing. Aside from its usefulness, the unit is a great training project for anyone taking the plunge into their first half lap dovetails. It has ultra long housing dadoes you may not have tackled before and then there are the tenoned housing dadoes for drawer backs, ploughing grooves, drawer sizing and fitting and much more. I don’t need to build a prototype because here it is. It will fit onto the benchtop without being in the way most of the time but you can also fit it under the bench or somewhere near-to as I generally do. In my unit I like to keep special tools that require precision and taking care of. These are my measuring gauges and devices, certain scale rulers, protractors, templates, that kind of thing. Tools of my trade that I keep always safe and protected. It would also make a good unit for storing my fine art equipment, leather tools, knives for violin making and much more don’t you think?

Anyway, rather than see the design die in the background of my garage workshop I thought it would be a perfect training project.

35 comments on “A Tool-Drawered Unit

  1. Thanks Paul!
    Just in time! Definately will be making this! I cant keep seeing my tools all around!
    Will you be doing a video on this?

  2. At my age, my house is furnished, but this kind of diminutive furniture would be useful in my work-space.
    Excellent skill building project which can be used afterwards for full sized furniture for children/grand children. It can also be downsized for jewelry box, under-screen desk organiser and so on.
    The only drawer I have done until now is the workbench drawer which, of course, is not perfect but not bad for a first one.

    • Sylvain,

      My house is furnished as well. But what I am doing with some pieces I am making but don’t need, is giving them to my wife’s friends who are single parents, mainly to replace rickety ikea furniture they have that is falling apart when a flat move or two loosens the nails holding the 1/4” particle backer board that holds the thing together. Also my wife volunteers and donates to a charity that helps the homeless get back on their feet, into a home and tried to furnish it like a home. The skills and little tips and tricks you can learn from each of the projects is well worth the price of a few pine boards. Knowing it gets a good home when done is icing on the cake. It very may well be the only heirloom quality furniture some people ever have.

      • I meant to add, that if there are pieces you don’t need, there is sure to be someone in need for that piece. This piece here however is staying in my shop!

  3. Thanks for the great post. My GrandPa, who was the best carpenter I ever met, left me something very similar that he made, only it was a small cabinet containing what looked like two of these side-by-side. I still use it frequently, and it reminds me of him every time I use it.

  4. That’s an interesting project, skill-building and a good addition to the (very useful) workbench drawer. It will beat the plastic boxes I use!

  5. Awesome, great timing. I’ve been wanting to build something like this but don’t have the confidence to design this proper. In my version two of these fit comfortably side by side on a cabinet and have 3 drawers in stead of two. I’m guessing we’ll recognize some parts from the chest of drawers series..

  6. Thanks for this post, looking forward to the build process on WWMC, definately need more safe storage and this will make a great first project for me.
    Keep up the good work!!

  7. This project reminds me of so many similar ones I’ve throughout my life. A pair of file cabinets I used to use as a computer/woodworking bench comes to mind. I would place a solis core door between them and wound up with a thick, flat work surface for anything.

  8. I cannot wait to see that vid either. This has to be my next project. I get tired of scattering my tools everywhere and then unearthing them from the sandpaper i just put down or steel wool -Great organizational addendum for the bench!

  9. I think I could build this from the photo, so it seems you have taught me a few things successfully over the years! One puzzle is that you have such a small overhang for the top and bottom, which could put the housing quite close to the edge, so my guess there is that you could cut rebates in the sides to narrow the housing and keep it from being so close to the edge. There are a few plugs on each side, so perhaps no housings there at all and the only housing is for the drawer support? We’ll soon know.

    I was really amazed at how delicate the drawer pulls are and wondered how you carved them and why they don’t break, but finally realized they are bits of leather.

  10. Oh excellent. Ever since it showed up, I was hoping it would be in the projects. Laying out drawers is still something I am not confident with. Making them yes, but planning them no, so this is just in time.

  11. Looking forward to this one. Paul, as a request, I’d also really like to see how you do drawers side by side in a project like this. I’m planning to make one with six long drawers with dividers as a way to store small pieces of hardware, screws and such. Thanks

  12. This looks like a project for me.
    Even though building the workbench was great, there’s a tool well for space, 7’10” of bench space up top for space, underneath the bench space as well, that was all eaten up by various tools in a short space of time. (NPI)
    Having the smaller tools get underneath the larger tools seems not to make for a harmonious environment in the workspace. So a great project this looks to be and I’ve not yet attempted half lap dovetails. Look forward to it.

  13. Looks like a great project with quite a few techniques that will be a first time for me. Very much looking forward to it!

  14. Got tired of stashing away tools on top of an old clothes dryer…so, one year, during a major shop rehab….the dryer went to the salvage yard, and a 5 drawer chest of drawers took it’s place. Same footprint that the dryer had, too. Even had room on the top to place a metal machinist’s tool chest. Just a frame & panel Pine dresser……amazing how fast those 5 drawers can fill up…

  15. That’s spookey … my Grandaughter wants a chest of drawers and my brown leather trouser belt has snapped!! So draw pull will be same as Paul’s!!

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