Several decades ago, furniture maker David Powell, now of Easthampton, Massachusetts, went to work in the renowned workshops of Edward Barnsley in Froxfield, England. Surrounded by master woodworkers who had learned and refined their skills in the Arts and Crafts era that flowered in the early years of this century, Powell received a rich, inspiring education that left him with a lifelong dedication to fine woodworking. Yet when it came time for him to build a chest for his hand tools, he passed over the traditional cabinetmaker's chests that surrounded him. Instead, he struck out on his own to design and build a box uniquely suited to his needs. For Powell, the classic chest wouldn't do-he felt the layered storage tills opening into an empty well wasted space and made access to many tools more difficult and time-consuming than necessary. He also could not see building a box that would sit on the floor, forcing him to bend or crouch down every time he wanted to get at a tool.
Starting with a blank piece of paper and an idea of what he didn't want, Powell began designing his toolbox. Having designed and built a number of tall furniture pieces, he wasn't surprised to discover that an upright standing cabinet seemed to offer the ideal solution. In the upper half of the cabinet Powell drew in drawers to organize a multitude of small tools. In the remaining space, he created a variety of pigeonholes to contain his collection of planes and other assorted tools. To hold bulky items such as panel saws, Yankee screwdrivers, squares and other layout tools in plain view and ready for instant use, he designed a pair of sturdy
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