Tool Chest by Paul Sellers Part 1

Having collected some hand tools, mainly planes and spokeshaves, I needed a place to put them other than the tool well. Where was I to go, I tried to find one, but the plastic cases at the big box stores had no appeal and just were not practical.  Even my favorite Festool had nothing that appealed unless I could combine a max systainer with a sortainer and it still would not have any style. So left with out a purchasable choice I had what I considered two options:  The Anarchist Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz (a very good book btw and you should pick up a copy here)  and the  Paul Sellers Tool Chest.

I had to rule out the Anarchist Tool Chest due to my shop being on my front porch, I needed something portable.  Not that my neighborhood is full of thieves but I am not leaving a tool chest out there. I’ll save that for a later build when I get some molding planes.

I searched through Paul Sellers WoodWorking Master Class Site and found the tool chest gallery.  A shameless plug for Paul’s site, if you have any interest in hand tool woodworking or woodworking, his site is 15 bucks a month if I remember right and that gives you access to ALL videos and the ability to download the ones since you joined.

So off to Paxton Lumber in Denver to find an appropriate wood.  I checked out Mahogany, $$$ per board foot, not a good first big project wood for me.  Pine, almost went this route since that was used in the Anarchist Chest but I thought it would be too soft and I had worked with a lot of pine already.  So I went with Ash, it was cheaper than Mahogany and more expensive than Pine.


I sized most of these up with the hand saw.  Actually a Gramercy 14″ sash saw from Tools for Working Wood (my favorite store after Lost Art Press).  I am short a good crosscut saw but the sash saw did fantastic.  The stacks below are ready for ripping.  My hand saw for ripping needs the teeth set so I opted for my bandsaw.  Who am I kidding, even if the teeth were set I would have used my bandsaw.

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All ripped down and ready to go.  I re-sawed a few pieces on my bandsaw for the drawer sides and backs then cleaned them up with my #4 Bailey.  I did thickness plane down the raised panels with my #5 set up as a scrub and cleaned up with the #4. I only used my surface planer for some 1/2″ x 1/2″ strips to hold the drawers and panels.


Next post, I try dovetails in hardwood.


Hinges, good ones are hard to find

I am making a Paul Sellers Tool Chest and was in need of some hinges for the lid.  Heading down to the local hardware store I found some basic national hinges.  I bring them back home and open them up and they just did not look like they were worthy of the tool chest I have been working on for the past few months.

So onto my favorite tool website where I found Brusso Hinges.  First the warning, Californians are nuts, I have never eaten a brass hinge.WP_20150427_003

Not to knock the national hinge on the left but the Brusso is on the right is a piece of hardware!


I picked up this hinge as it has integrated stops.  Turns out my top is too heavy for those but they are built so much better than the national’s I kept them.  I enlarged the holes just a bit and countersunk them some more.  Metal likes a single flute countersink, doesn’t jump or make noise.


Not a great picture to show the gap as the national hinge is closed, if they were parallel its is almost a 1/8″ gap.  This means much more mortising the hinge into the carcase. The Brusso hinge, hardly a gap at all.  They actually publish PDF’s of the specifications on their website.WP_20150427_009

One last photo of these stunning hinges!  My install was ok, but doesn’t match the perfection of the machining. I’ll post a few blog posts on the tool chest when it is all done.


Three-Legged Stool from Paul Sellers book Working Wood 1 & 2

Next up from the Paul Sellers book, the three legged stool.    Starting with a 8′ long 2×12 of douglas fir I cut out two squares.  One I cut out on the bandsaw, the other with a chisel.  The one on the right in the following photo was with the bandsaw.  It was quick an easy, I could have also used my router with the circle cutting jig, or used a circle cutting jig on the bandsaw.  I see no problems with how its cut out, the end goal is a circular piece of wood.


Figuring the point of the book was also to try new techniques, I made a second seat.  Chiseling a circle is actually remarkably easy.  The grain was pretty straight so it split of quite nicely.  So if you don’t have a bandsaw, don’t fret a chisel works just fine.


I did have to be careful as I got very close to my line.


All done, not so bad, next round I’ll stick closer to the line all the way around  You’ll notice the coping saw in that picture, I did use it to take care of some of the cross grain on the ends, easier than the chisel.


Marking the seat with pencil to help guide the spokeshave rounding over of the seat.  The first seat I forgot to do the guidelines and my experience with the spokeshave made for ok results.  The guidelines on the second seat made things go much faster and more uniform than without.  The Record 151 Spokeshave made yet another appearance here.


Both seats ready to go.

Next up was drilling the holes.  I used a brace and bit.  The first seat I used an adjustable sized bit to drill the holes as I did not have a 1″ bit.  The adjustable did not cut cleanly through when I switched sides.  As soon as it broke through it was off center and you are done.  This left me to  have to clean the rest out with a rasp.

So I ordered up some old “vintage”  bits from Ebay, maybe I’ll show them in another post as I am missing the photos but it included a 1 inch bit.  The 1 inch bit worked better than the adjustable as it stayed self centered when drilling from both sides.


Marking the centers of three legs preparing them to round over.  I ripped these on my wood bandsaw.


Rounding the legs over with the #4 Bailey plane.  Notice the bar clamp, this one from Tools For Working Wood, made by Dubuque Clamp Works.  Heavier duty than what you can find at harbor freight and super light (cheaper than my steal clamps and way lighter, happy to get them from an American company). As Paul says the bar clamp in the bench vise makes for a great way to work without a tail vise and placed the work up where it is easy to handle. I worked one at a time and test fitted as I went. Be sure to mark which ones go where once you start fitting.


Three legs fit and ready to assemble.  The ones in this photo still need the bottom of the legs rounded over.


Ready for slots to be cut for the wedges.  I used Oak on one and Walnut on the other.


Both stools are complete.  Bandsaw version and the chiseled version.  Spokeshave didn’t care 🙂  It was nice to build them without a lathe as I have not room for one at this time.


Lightly sanded with my festool sander/vac combo and given two coats of shellac with a light hand sanding  between coats.  These will be shipped of as a gift for friends who just had twins.  Since they are 12 inches tall they should be a perfect fit in a year :).


Working Wood 1&2 Hand Carved Spoons

After making the spatulas from Paul Sellers book I decided to try my hand at making a wooden spoons.   I broke the last wooden spoon I had and figured I could give this a shot and make some new ones with larger handles.  I stopped into Paxton Lumber in Denver and founds some maple cutoffs in the 50c per board foot box. Score!

I had a set of two plastic spoons that I do like that I used for a template.  I would go with bigger handles to make them easier to hold and harder to break.

Tools used:

  • Band Saw (trimming down blanks)
  • Record 151 Flat Bottom Spokeshave
  • Record 151 Round Bottom Spokeshave (optional)
  • Two Cherries Carving Gouge 7/20
  • 180 Sandpaper
  • Record Vise
  • Mallet

First step, trace out the spoons. You can see I fit 5 on this board.  2 small ones and 3 large.




Using a Two Cherries 7/20 gouge I started to carve out the spoons.

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I got lots of practice as I had 6 to work on.  Much easier to get it all out of the way while the board clamps solidly in the vise.  I used the smaller spoon as the inside template for the large spoon.  For the two small spoons I just moved the small spoon I was using as a template and retraced it a few times until I had a good 1/4″ boarder.  The gouge laughed at the maple and cut through it without much trouble.  I have not learned how to sharpen the gouge yet, it made it through the spoons without dulling.


The first 5 spoons carved out ready for the bandsaw to trim them out.  2 blanks that are ready for the spokeshave.

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The other board was extra thick so I made a deeper spoon.


Roughed out and ready to go.  I did take this one back to the bandsaw to trim the top as maple is hard wood and that is mainly end grain. The large spoon I trimmed the handle as well since this one would be a flat handle unlike the others which are round.

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Let the trimming begin.  Sharpened the Record 151 flat bottomed spokeshave and got to work.  First starting with a thick cut and then fine tuning for the finish work.  Maple is not the softest of woods but this sharp spokeshave made quick work of it.  Grain direction was elusive sometimes, I was changing directions regularly until I figured things out to minimize the tear-out.

I started with the spoon part first, doing one side then the other.  I would occasionally use the round bottom Record 151 spokeshave for the tight curves where the spoon met the handle.  The round bottom was much harder to use but I am starting to get used to it.


Once all the trimming was done I would finish each spoon off with a scraper to remove any tear-out and spokeshave lines.  Made for a pretty good looking spoon.


The final set of 6 ready for finish, most likely mineral oil.


Are they perfect, no.  I could have sanded the ends of the handles on the belt sander for a nice slick round end.  I chose to round them instead with the super sharp spokeshave and leave them uneven.  The Record 151 did quite well on the end grain.  I have seen places recommend a low angle version for end grain.  Maybe down the road I’ll try a low angle spokeshave or get a kit like this one from Tools for Working Wood.  In the mean time,  a very sharp 151 works just fine.

The spoons got better with each one I did.  I did a rough pass and then a fine finish pass to clean things up.  Multiple rounds with the scrapers and putting them in the sun to see marks.  Maple is quite hard and did not make things easy but the results are well worth the work.

I did sharpen 3 times I think throughout the process.  Maybe overkill but I am just getting used to both the tools and the sharpening process.  Each honing took about 3 minutes, just enough to bring em back on the water stones, 1000/4000/8000.  Possibly a strop is in order next time I get to Tandy to bring back the edge a bit without honing.


A hand tool workbench based off of Paul Sellers’ plans

I have two tiny workbenches in a attic with a sloping roof.  I can stand for about 2 feet if I am just under the peak.  The benches are old workbenches that look to be from a school or the university.  One had a tail vise with out a screw, it worked on a cam lock mechanism.  I added a Record vise to the other bench and that helped significantly in my trying to cut dovetails.  But at 6′ 3″ and a bench at 33″ was just not going to work long term.

I also have 2 Festool tables that are fantastic to cut sheet stock on and to move around.  Unfortunately they are not rigid enough for planing without having it against a wall and even then questionable.

What to do?  I have 4 perfectly good benches but they are not for hand tools.  I guess I would call the first two more of cabinets and the Festool’s are tables.  I looked at Chris Schwarz’s books on building workbenches and design.  I was waiting for the DVD on the Nicholson Bench from Lost Art Press.  While I was waiting I discovered Paul Sellers.  Paul has been a craftsman for 45 years using all sorts of benches and hand tools.  I started watching some of his videos and started his Wood Working Master Class website (a steal at 15 dollars a month).  The short story is I made a modified Paul Sellers Youtube bench crossed with his Bench from the book Working Wood 1& 2.

Why Paul’s bench?  Its cheap, made out of douglas fir.  A grand total of 130 dollars was spent on the wood.  If I don’t like it, well that is a pretty cheap investment when it comes to a workbench and I can always use it for firewood.  I have heard people making them out of maple which last I checked was north of 7 dollars a board foot.  I’d rather make furniture with maple, that is just me. The Nicholson bench linked above would have been a great options as well.  I am space constrained at the moment so maybe next round.

Tool well, yes I chose a tool well.  I know Schwarz devotees (everyone on the Internet is an expert) will frown upon that , but this is my bench :).  I had a Stanley Number 8 shimmy itself of the Festool table as I was planing the bench top.  Lesson learned. I ebay’d a new plane body and there will not be any shimmying or knocking off the bench with a tool well.

On to the build, it took a few tries to get started.  I got all my lumber from Boulder Lumber in town.  I glued up the top once and manually planed each board after they went through the delta surface planer.  Well I learned I sucked at planing.  I needed practice and I got it on this project.  I took off too much on some, not enough on the other.  I was not happy with the first glue up as it had a few gaps.  I ended up scrapping it  and taking it to the bandsaw to cut the legs out of it.  So not really lost, just re-purposed.  I went back to Boulder Lumber and picked up some more wood, this time paying close attention for knots on the sides of the 2x stock (I did not do this carefully enough previously).  Planing and gluing the second round went much better.


I didn’t take pictures of the planing though I filled a compost bag or two full of shavings. The aprons and bench tops are glued up.  I did use a Bailey #4 and a Lie Nielsen #4 to smooth up the 2x stock before gluing.  My gluing needs some work as the aprons did not glue up well.  I had to re-glue the end of one, lesson here, don’t remove the clamps early….

The legs.  Mortises cut with a crappy sharp 1/2 chisel with mallet recommended by Paul on his blog.  Worked great.  I had never cut mortises before and I thought it would be a lot harder. Paul’s technique on his you tube videos worked great.

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All done except for the notches for the the tenon at the top.  I didn’t leave room for a tail vise, I thought about it but it didn’t happen.

The tenons.  I sawed the first one, it seemed like it took a while.  I may have to sharpen my handsaw :(. I setup a knife line and chiseled to it first to create a guide.


The rest of them I chiseled since Paul’s book recommend trying it out.  It worked well on about 50% of the tenons.  It was interesting to try though as I learned a lot about how the grain works.  About half had straight grain so they chiseled real nice and made for some quick work.  The others, well they were questionable with the grain going down into a bowl and angling down.  It was a good first attempt and I don’t care too much for looks.


The aftermath of chiseling.


Cleaning up after the chiseling with a block plane and the Stanley 71 1/2 router plane to get uniform depth.


The legs glued up.  The Festool table worked great or clamping and passable for chiseling.

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The Festool table allowed me also to clamp the assemblies flat to the table.

The tenons and shoulder on the top cross member can be seen below. The second picture has the bearer screwed to the top. I did not clean up the glue at this point.

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The legs rest in a dado on the apron which helps to stabilize the bench.


Knife line again followed by the chisel to begin.


Next step was to clean it out with the router plane.


I was debating on adding Paul’s wedges to make it a knock down bench.  I was initially thinking I would just glue and screw the aprons to the legs.  I waited an evening and decided it might be nice to take it apart as I can’t lift heavy things very well.  It was a good choice as the wedges make the bench rock solid.  Even if I glued it I would want to have the wedges in for extra stability.  Basically you make the dado wider on the apron to insert a wedge as shown below.  I then made a piece of wood to hold the wedge in.

Note:one of the aprons twisted after glue up, good ole construction lumber.  It was a good opportunity to try out the winding sticks and try to remove the twist.  I removed a lot of material to get it close to flat.  I didn’t have the time or patience at this point to go buy more 2×6’s and redo the apron.  I put the challenged on the back of the bench.


Note, when you attach the aprons, check for square!  I apparently skipped this step so my bench ended up askew by a half an inch 😦 .  Its a bench so it was a good lesson learned and will not hurt functionality.

With the aprons attached it was time to glue the laminated tops to the aprons.

Note:I did hand plane the tops after I sent them though the Delta surface planer :). Glue up was quick and this time I left the clamps on overnight.


As you can see I went with a short bench on the back of the tool well as I figured it might be handy if I was working with a large piece of furniture to have the something more substantial than just a back rail.  Time will tell whether this was a good idea or not.  I am space challenged so I could not do the full depth bench that would have been 36″

Note: A good time to talk about height.  You’ll look at the picture and say damn that is high!  Yes it is, I am 6′ 3″ and I have lower back issues that get annoyed by having to hunch over (hunching over is bad even if you back is healthy).  So I made my bench 42″. 42 inches you say, yes, its my bench and it works for me but may not work for all.  If it is too tall after I use it for a few months I can cut off the legs an inch at a time, I can’t add it as easily! Paul has a good link on heights of people and benches.


Trimming up the tool well with the Festool TS75.  I am short a handsaw for ripping at the moment and well I am lazy with a TS55 panel saw handy.  Yes its cutting in the middle of the living room.  The dust collection is amazing on this saw with the Festool Midi HEPA vac.


It didn’t take too long to trim the well board with the plane to make it fit perfectly

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Dado for the well board so it will rest down lower to give more space. This was done with a handsaw for the sides followed by a chisel to clean out the bulk and a router plane to finish.

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Time to flatten the top!  Took out the #5 Bailey that I have setup as a scrub plane to rough depth the top. I then cleanup with a Number 4.  I must have sharpened the Bailey iron better than the Lie Nielsen,  as it planed some great shavings verus the Lie Nielsen (entirely user error).

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Notice the diamond stone and water stones at the back.  I had not sharpened things since I started and well that gave me some unexpected tear out.  I stopped and sharpened the planes up and what a difference.


The well board is cut to length and chamfered on the bottom to match up to the tops. The bench is almost done.

Time to add a vise.  I thought about how Paul did it, he held the heavy vise up against the bench and traced things.  Paul has a healthier back then me so I went the way of non lifting, I made a template.  I started with the basic measurements of where it was going like Paul did, then I put that on a template.  I flipped the vise on its back on the bench and completed the template leaving some room for adjusting the vise. You can see the template material is expensive construction grade cardboard held together with industrial tape :).

Note: I did not leave enough room for the quick release to work but that was fixed in about 30 seconds with a chisel and I didn’t even have to remove the vise.

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Template was then taped to the bench where I colored in the cutout as I had some markings on the side before the template idea came to me.


Time to cut it out.  Brace and bit, chisel, sure I could do that, but I had a cordless drill.  I drilled a few starter holes and grabbed the jigsaw.


Festool again, picked it up off of craigslist and the dust extraction is great.  Remember I am finishing this in the living room and dust collection is critical.


All done, now for the vise. The vise is a Record #53 purchased off of ebay for 200 dollars plus 48 shipping. Even with my 3/4 baltic birch on the the 10 1/2″ jaws it still opens to 14 inches. I will add a dog to the vise shortly, I also need to look at installing some bench dogs.

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Heavy, yes, and with the vise even more.

Stable!!! I could not have imagined how stable this bench is with no glue on the legs.  It doesn’t shimmy a bit.  The wedges lock it down solid.  The mortise and tenon’s on the legs allow for zero movement.  Not bad for a first mostly hand tool adventure.  Now I can work on some real projects now I have a stable bench.  And I learned a lot about planing, chiseling, and sawing on a workbench that cost 130 in wood.  Much better to learn on the bench then with expensive hardwoods.

That said, could I make the bench better a second round, yes.

  • One I have a stable bench to work on which is half the battle.
  • Two, sharp tools make life so much easier.  Stop and sharpen.
  • Understanding grain directions and how it affects both planing and chiseling.  I have some tear out on the top but its a bench, it will be hammered on, chiseled into, etc.  I will not make the same mistakes on a hardwood project.
  • Glue up, leave the clamps on longer if the boards have any bow whatsoever