Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Dutch Tool chest


Build a Dutch Tool Chest



We're very happy to have Megan Fitzpatrick, publisher and editor for Rude Mechanicals Press, returning this year to teach you how to build the Dutch Tool Chest. Megan, an avid hand-tool woodworker for more than a decade, has taught numerous hand tool woodworking classes throughout the U.S as well as closer to home at the Lost Art Press Shop.

The Dutch Tool Chest - one of its values is in its portability, sporting a slanted lid that fits in the back of your car or shares your seat on the bus. It's fairly quick to build and Megan will show you how to add breadboard ends and hand-tool-cut fingernail moulding to protect the lid edges so that your tool chest looks great and stands the test of time. 

Class Description

I’m a fan of a full-sized English tool chest, but traveling with one isn’t easy. So on the road (if I’m driving to a jobsite) I use a smaller, and more portable Dutch Tool Chest (like the one that appeared years ago in Jim Tolpin’s “The Toolbox Book”) for ferrying my tools hither and yon. Bonus: The slanted lid tucks nicely into most hatchbacks! 

With dovetails only at the bottom, this chest is fairly simple to make – the basic shell goes together in two (long) days…or three more relaxed days. Then, we’re going to dress it up both for good looks and longevity by making a top with breadboard ends and a hand-tool-cut fingernail moulding, as well as a hand-raised panel on the fall front and a hand-cut tongue-and-groove back. Time allowing, we’ll use casein-based milk paint to add color, and while that dries, kit out the interior to store chisels, panel saws, planes, layout tools and more – all the core furniture-making tools. Finally, we’ll install the hinges and lifts. While our goal is to complete this chest in five-days, it is likely that will be challenging.

And the hand-tool skills that you learn – dovetails, dados, rabbets, cut-nail joinery, mouldings (along with rules for carcase construction) – will serve you well for all your projects to come. 

Hardware: Please order ahead and bring hardware of your choice. 

You can use almost any strap hinges to attach the top, and any lifts for the sides - everyone’s taste and budget will differ…so please order per your choice (you can, of course, commission a blacksmith to make hand-forged strap hinges and lifts if you like). Below are some commercial suggestions.

Lee Valley Tools
Item 01H21.39 or 01H21.11. Unequal Strap Hinges (the short leaf gets attached to the back – traditional)
Item 01X36.25. 9” Rough Strap Hinge (the sort leaf is mortised into the back – non-traditional, ostensibly more secure)

House of Antique Hardware
Item #: RS-08CL-101292-33. Spear-Point Cabinet Strap Hinges: 11”x 1-13/16”

You can also use butt hinges, such as:
Horton Brasses
Item # PB407. Solid Brass Butt Hinge

Lee Valley Tools
Item 06W03.01. Cast Iron Chest Handle

Antique Hardware & More
Item T-211. Cast Iron Trunk Handle

Van Dyke’s Restorers
Item # 02022423. Restorers Iron Trunk Lifter Handle

Milk Paint
I recommend bringing your own, so you can select the color. The school may have some available in limited colors.
Old Fashioned Milk Paint (milkpaint.com) is my current preferred brand. It comes dry and mixes with water.

Real Milk Paint (realmilkpaint.com) is another source (with a wide color range), but must be mixed with the company’s base…which makes a gallon – we need about a quart.

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk paint (missmustaradseedsmilkpaint.com) is another mix-with-water option, but I’ve not used this particular brand. (Nice colors, though!)

And if you don’t want to mess with traditional milk paint, you might like General Finishes “Milk Paint” (the finish mimics traditional milk paint, but is not quite as flat or translucent. It is, however, easier to apply.)

Tools Required:

*school provides

*Smoothing plane
*Marking gauge or cutting gauge
*Marking knife
*Mechanical pencil
*Try square or 12” combination square
*Sliding bevel or dovetail marking gauge
*Dovetail saw
*Bevel-edge chisels (1/2” and 3/8”)
*Mortise chisel 1/4” or 5/16”
Dead-blow mallet (school has fewer than eight)
Hand drill with bits (school has fewer than eight)
Rabbeting plane, moving fillister or a large shoulder plane (school has fewer than eight)
Hammer (16 oz.) and a nail set (school has fewer than eight)
Coping saw with extra blades (school has fewer than eight)
Tape measure or folding rule

Optional tools:
Jointer plane (school has fewer than eight)
Block plane
Router plane (school has fewer than eight)
Mortising gauge
Carcase saw with a bench hook
Tenon saw
Your sharpening equipment
Beading plane or other moulding planes you wish to use for your back boards


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. And don't forget to order your paint and hardware ahead and bring it to class-thank you!

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
This class takes place in Building #315 at Fort Worden on June 24-28, 2019. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $795
Materials Charge: $200 (subject to change, possibly higher)
Register by: June 3, 2019

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.