Unusual Drawers

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This chest was built by Duncan Phyfe, one of this country's premier cabinetmakers, in the early 1800s. The chest, of pine with interior fittings faced in Santo Domingo mahogany, features a large sliding till containing 16 finely dovetailed drawers. Note the saw till mounted under the lid. an unusual feature for American-built chests.

Wooden Carpenter Chest

Built by a ship's carpenter in the middle of the 19th century, this chest is unusual in that Ihe saw till acts as a second lid. Though this arrangement adds considerable weight, the saws are safely enclosed behind a drop down

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tesy of Leonard Langevin; photo by Vincent Laurence.

Woodworking Tool Box Chest

To lift the chest, most builders provided some form of handle. Some English chests used a rope passed through a hole in a block attached to c3ch side of the box and spliced into a loop. Several chests have come to light in which the rope was made long enough to reach over the top of the box, perhaps so that two people could lift the box by passing a stout stick through the two )oops. Knowing how much ifcth-cenwity woodworkers treasured their tools, though, I doubt they would entrust them to a stick, however stout. My guess is that the length of the rope kept the craftsman's knuckles from swinging into the side of the box when tilting it up into a conveyance or carrying it upstairs.

Boxes made in the latter part of the 18th century often were f itted with metal handles. Some were "campaign' style, that is, recessed into their escutcheons (see the photo on p. 15). Though certainly more expensive than a rope handle and perhaps a little less comfortable under load, they were less liable to break.

Trays and tills

Of particular interest in the design and construction of these low tool chests is the use of trays and tills. To make the most use of the space within, cabinetmakers created storage units of stacked trays or a till of drawers that slid back and forth on rails over a divided well at the bottom of the box. This well was usually built deep enough to store molding planes on edge-maximizing the number of planes that could be accommodated and making it easy to see their profiles.

Another till might contain saws and other large tools, such as a layout square. To access this till, you would either lift it out of the box entirely, or open a lid at the top and reach into it from above. The top drawing at right shows an unusual saw till, which was found in a box in the collection of James Delsman, of Ashland, Oregon; here the saws are slid into a rack that pivots out of the lift-out till. Sometimes, as on the Duncan Phyfe chest, shown in the bottom drawing at right, the saw till is not located in the box at all but is instead fixed to the underside of the lid.

in yet another variation, the saw till might form an entire second lid for the chest. The example shown in the bottom photo on the facing page was built by C. A. Pierce, a ship's carpenter sailing out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. According to his grandchildren, Pierce built this chest while on a four-year whaling expedition to the Indian Ocean

Pivot pin

Inner frame is slotted for saws, pivots out for access.

Duncan Phyfe Chest Images

SAW STORAGE ON UNDERSIDE OF LID (DUNCAN PHYFE CHEST)

Woodworking Toolchests Images

Inner frame is slotted for saws, pivots out for access.

SAW STORAGE ON UNDERSIDE OF LID (DUNCAN PHYFE CHEST)

Saw Storage: Two Options

PIVOTING SAW TILL (JAMES DELSMAN COLLECTION) Lift-out saw till

Pivot pin

Ship Carpenter Tool Chest

Stepped runners Sliding shelf sliding shelf

Well under lift-up lid

Pivoting Storage Drawer

Ledge t

Seven drawers in till

Entire till slides forward when knobs on top false drawer front are pulled.

Sliding shelf

Note: Sliding trays could also be supported on individual ledges. These are easier to make than stepped runners, but the height of the trays must be reduced.

Sliding trays

Ledge

SUDING TRAYS Lid on top tray

Stepped runners Sliding shelf

Sliding trays

Note: Sliding trays could also be supported on individual ledges. These are easier to make than stepped runners, but the height of the trays must be reduced.

Well under lift-up lid t

Seven drawers in till

Entire till slides forward when knobs on top false drawer front are pulled.

Sliding Till vs.

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