A Few Years Ago

I think that Joseph was 13 when we did this. I was to travel from Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma to demonstrate hand tool woodworking at the Woodworking Shows’ show, a three-day event I used to enjoy. It was mainly to promote my classes in Elm Mott in Texas, just south of Dallas and north of Waco. I asked Joseph if he would keep me company and he jumped at the idea of a road trip for four days. I also wanted something additional that we could do together as we were there at the show with a bench and hand tools so I cut the wood for this compact version tool chest I called a traveling version of my larger Joiner’s toolbox.

Throughout the weekend and between demonstration times we worked jointly on the various dovetails and mortise and tenons. Woodworkers gathered around as we worked and whatever I did Joseph followed doing exactly the same or indeed and exact opposite. By close of show on Sunday evening we had the toolbox completed, replete with handle, hinges, hasp and magnetic catch. All that was left to do was apply the finish.

The other day I saw it in his home workshop and remembered the days we were together. How does the song go? Ah, yes, “Memories are made of this!”

44 thoughts on “A Few Years Ago”

    1. Good story Paul.
      Lovely tool carrier.
      The proportions looks “right” to the eye. Pleasing.
      Good to hear it will be a project soon.
      Everett, Ontario

  1. Paul, I have just discovered you on/via youtube. A living treasure you are and as a 50yo lawyer just now returning to hobby woodworking you are an amazing resource and teacher.

    Thanks so much for your excellent presentation, comprehensive monologue as you work and your exquisite skill. The years of practise show as your hands move with grace like a musician on your instruments.

    I shall learn a great deal from you with deep thanks.

    Tony (Geelong Australia)

  2. Wow Paul! That is a beautiful chest and a beautiful story. Any chance you would do a WWMC series on building one of these?

      1. The size is great, it looks perfect for storing a day’s worth of tools, and there are a ton of details packed in there to learn from: the raised/floating panel in the door, the drawers with their wooden slides, and I still can’t figure out how the back panel is affixed. So many mysteries! I also vote to have this show up on WWMC.

  3. Thanks Paul. What a wonderful memory indeed. My daughter just turned 9 yesterday and I got her a 151 spokeshave and No 3 handplane. Little by little she’s getting a nice set of tools. We are going to build something this size as well together. Given her skill level, I will likely move her towards a Japanese style carpenter box.

  4. I don’t think I have seen that style drawer support yet on any of the WMMC projects. One reason it would be a great idea to see this one done.

  5. I was planning on making the small dutch toolchest for travel but i really like this one. I 3rd the WWMC

    1. It amazingly heartbreaking and wonderfully uplifting what parents can do to/for their children.
      It’s taken me 68 years to realize “It’s not my FAULT but I am RESPONSIBLE “
      From your writings I have read about your parents. They raised you right and, from your writings, I have read how you have raised your children right.
      It breaks my heart, again and again, when I read or hear or see what is and has been done to children.
      All the pain and anger
      All the joy and Peace
      All come from our parents. It’s gets past down generation to generation.
      Hitler was beaten into a coma by his father at the age of 3 or 4. I can’t help but think that if that hadn’t happened, this world would not have the memories it has.
      For the life of me I can’t remember their names but in the 1800’s a father set out to end legalized slavery in Britain, he died in late his 70’s without success but his son continued his fight. Legalized slavery was abolished, I think, in 1857.
      There are good scars and bad scars.
      We are born scared but “By His stripes we are healed.”
      It wasn’t your parents “fault” that you didn’t want to go on with school or university, but they were responsible for encouraging or allowing you to apprentice yourself and become the man you are today with the children you have today.
      They did a good thing and now you have done and are doing a good thing.
      I really pray that one day we can shake hands over a meal. I gotta have babybacks but we can make sure that you’ll have healthy eats.

  6. Paul,
    As displayed by the prior comments, your impact on us all, has been immeasurable. Thank you!
    P.S. A WWMC of this project would be wonderful!

  7. That is a beautiful toolbox. I like to share your articles with my soon to be 10 yr old son. I bought him a vintage bit brace and some basic hand tools. He really likes your videos.

  8. What a lovely story. Time with our kids is the most precious, rewarding and important time of our lives. Wonderful.

  9. Clarence Zimmerman

    Thank you! My son, 34 years of age passed away 2 years ago this month. As a boy, he spent time with me in the shop as I built his bedroom furniture, etc.. aspiring to leave him memories and keepsakes for his future not until now I realize those precious memories were for me to realize. We remodeled his home together, many hours spent teaching him, and I also learned from him. I was blessed beyond measure. Everyone don’t let an opportunity pass you by to do something together!

  10. Hi Paul,

    I agree with the person above with the idea of doing this as a WWMC project. It would be a great project.


    William Swinyer

    1. We’re going to do it next. The response surprised us so that’s where we are headed. I’ll keep everyone updated here. try to relive the experience.

      1. Paul, such a heartwarming story and I’m sure Joseph cherishes this memory as much as you do.
        Exciting to hear this will be the next project, I stumbled across some of your older posts on the same design and had started to draw it up myself but it will be extra special to follow along with you and hopefully we’ll hear more about the memories that it brings to you!

  11. That is a beautiful looking toolbox and one I’d definitely find very useful!
    If it’s not going be a project I might have a go at making one anyway.

    All the principals of constructional; dovetails, draw making, door construction with panel etc., Paul has covered in previous projects. Dimensions can be approximated, adjusted to suit and a plan drawn to work from.

    The only bit I’m not sure about is the section along the bottom that the door hinges on; how is it fixed in place? It has to solid enough to support the hinged door that is frequently going to be opening and closing, so maybe glued in place and supported by screwed in fillets on the inside? Or is that too industrial?

    It’d be a good exercise in working things out for myself rather than relying on Paul to do it all. In fact, perhaps if a few of us did the same, the results could be submitted to Paul to show the differing interpretations and how much we’ve learnt from his expert tuition!

    Thank you Paul for sharing this wonderful looking box and the story behind it. Inspiring as always.

  12. Thank you for your posts Paul. In these days of riots and sometimes overall anger it is such a delight to see a positive place to hang out. My dad was like that with me. When I was a teen he decided we needed a garage so we built it, just the two of us. That was back in the 60s but I can go online and still see that garage in use today. Positive vibes man, positive vibes.

  13. Paul,

    For the WWMC lesson, would you be doing up the frame panels for the fall front, or plywood skinned? I thought the ‘cutoff’ front was a nicer design, as it also allows the inside of the fall front cover to be used also as a hanging storage. For things like squares or tenon saws.

    1. I think that in this case, it is important to be faithful to the original design in essence so I will be using my frame and panel design, Michael. I prefer the longevity solid wood gives to this particular project. I also understand that the cutaway, fall-front design provides a place for other tools, I also felt the compactness of this particular toolbox where the fall-front keeps the drawers from opening is advantaged by the close containment at that juncture. That said though, you could add an internal rim emulating the outer of the other style and still have all the benefits of this stronger design.

  14. Peter Marshall

    Like many others who have commented , this project has caught my eye and I am going to give it a try when posted . ( Perhaps I should get the side table finished first 🙂 ! ) I am going to pick up some wood this weekend and let it ” rest ” in my workshop in preparation . Any opinions on how suitable Cherry would be for this project ?

    And , I really loved the heartfelt story ….

  15. Lovely toolbox, lovely story!

    @Joseph: could you make a post about that spokeshave you have made for your father? The cast bronze one, if I am not mistaken. I would love to learn how to make one.

  16. Looking at the picture, assuming 3/4 board thickness for the case,
    the dimensions seems to be about H 15″, W 18″, D 8″
    top drawer H 2.5″
    lower drawer H 4.5″
    lower front board H 2.5″

  17. George L. Deans

    Paul, Do you have a set of plans for this joiners travel box? It looks very compact and workable. I have had some adult Ed students who might try a hand a making this as well as myself. Thank you. George

  18. Brent Ingvardsen

    I love that story and also made the same box for my son. I also refurbished some quality vintage hand tools to compliment the box.

    My son is now in college and doesn’t have time for woodworking but he still treasures his toolbox.

  19. I’m excited to see how you did it! I’ve just finished mine not to long ago. I tried to do a copy of another one of yours in pine from pictures on the internet. It was my quarantine project and it gave me so much pleasure and satisfaction
    I’ll post photos in the gallery section of the site.
    Thank you Mr Sellers you’re an inspiration and your teachings provide me with such great joy.

  20. Your tool box picture stirred some memories for me. Thank you.
    In my dad’s shed he has two tool boxes like the one above. One is his, the other his father’s.
    He trained as an apprentice at an aircraft maker in the 1940s and although he worked primarily in metal, in pre-CAD days he had to be able to work in wood as well to make mock-ups and prototypes.
    One of the tasks set him as an apprentice was to make his toolbox. Each drawer was lined with green baize. The wood was a hard brown wood that could be mahogany.
    To protect the tools Dad and grand-dad wiped their tools with some type of oil the smell of which still lingers in the box and the tools are safe 70 years after it was made.

  21. I made some toolboxes for my teenage grandsons. More “utility” than polished like yours but hope they will become a keepsake for them.

  22. Thank you, Paul, for sharing another wonderful story with us.

    I’m looking forward to this project now.

    I’m currently making two ‘A-frame’ hinged trestle table legs with my 19 year old son (he wanted them to support a table top he uses for his hobby but was using books/boxes etc. to prop it up).

    VERY basic design, two uprights, with top and bottom rails joined using lap joints for each – hinged at the top rail. Made from framing pine (70x35mm), planed smooth for a better finish.

    He was enjoying it for the most part, and was keenly listening to everything I was teaching him (everything you have taught me, Paul). I used all of your techniques and he was able to grasp them quite easily.

    He enjoyed the measuring and layout, even the planing after he got the hang of it. But when it came to chiseling out the lap joints, he really enjoyed using the chisels, making the knife wall, chopping and paring. But once I got out the router plane and showed him how to use it to finish off the bottoms of the cut out, the first time he started paring away he looked at me with a HUGE grin on his face and said, “This is awesome, Dad! This feels so cool!”.

    His favourite hand tool – as it is mine 🙂

    Will never forget that moment and how engaged he was in the whole process – especially that first moment with the router plane.


    1. So heartwarming, Adam! I had four boys of mine in the workshop and many all at one time. When I made two pieces for the cabinet room of the White House two of them worked on it with me and then others who had apprenticed with me. It was one big family of woodworkers all working in harmony to fulfill a wonderful work. Such a reward for me because these were the last pieces I made working in the USA after 23 wonderful years there.

      1. Thank you for your reply, Paul.

        I never realised your boys helped with those pieces! Nor that all were woodworkers. I can imagine the reward. How wonderful for everyone 🙂

        Best wishes to you and your family.

  23. I find with the passing of time that I don’t value so much where I have been or what I have seen. I value what I know, what I can do and what I have done. Mr. Sellers, you are informing what I know, helping me in acquiring the skills to do more and assisting me in leaving a longer and longer trail of things I have done.

    Thank you.

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