Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Build a Toolchest


The pragmatist's tool chest


Level 2



Like building a workbench, building a tool chest is a rite of passage for many woodworkers. A stout tool chest protects your tools and corrals them in a single unit that can be (relatively) easily transported. We've designed this tool chest to  be straightforward to build at an early stage in your development as a hand tool woodworker. Using simple, pragmatic, yet sturdy joinery you'll go home with a completed tool chest.

This “one-design” chest will hold the common hand tools needed by a woodworker.  It is based on the traditional English chest with simplified joinery. There are plenty of opportunities to add handsome details to the skirts and handles of the tool chest. 

Chest's pictured above with the addition of tills and paint.
We won't have time to paint or build tills in class, but they may be added later. 

Class Description

The main carcase will be joined at the corners with rabbets and backed up by cut nails.  These in turn will be reinforced by dovetailed skirts at the bottom and top. The lid uses bridle joints to capture and top panel is locked in place with a dovetailed dust seal.

The floor of the chest is made of  shiplapped boards nailed into the carcase and through the base skirt. The box handles may be as simple or complex as desired.


No tools are required for this course. If you have started to build your own set of hand tools we encourage you to bring them along to the class so that you can deepen your experience with them and work with the instructors to tune and fully understand them. Please see our What to Expect page if you plan to ship your tools to the school.

Otherwise you are welcome to use the high quality hand tools at our fully equipped workbenches.


Students should have some experience with hand tools and joinery. We recommend skills equivalent to the Hand Tool Heaven and Hand Tool Heaven II: Joinery courses or the Weekend Hand Tool Woodworking series. 

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 750
Materials Charge: $ 300

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.