Hi, I'm Zach and I have a tool chest problem...


As many of you know, I work in politics and, being an election year, work has kept me away from this site and rust hunting for the summer.  However, I did steal a moment or two in the shop. I will be posting pictures of my newly made portable tool box, based on the one in Tom Fidgen's book.  I will use this box to carry my demo tools when I work at the Charlton Park Carpenters Shop.   I also managed to pick up a new tool chest, once owned by a J.R. Mell.  It is walnut, hand dovetailed and quite beautiful.  I will be doing a write up of that one as well, the week after Election Day.

Pictures of my existing tool storage can be found here and here

My problem now is that I have too many tool storage options, too many tools and no clear plan for utilizing them all.  I suppose that is what makes me a Galoot...

My best,


MWTCA meet this Saturday


Don't forget that the Midwest Tool Collectors Association has their Area C Mid-Summer tool meet this Saturday.  It starts at 8:00am and is being held at Tillers International in Scotts, MI , which is near Kalamazoo.   I'll be there, selling tools and showing off my new carriage makers tool box.  The cost to get in is $15.

If you are anywhere near Michigan this weekend, I highly recommend you stop out to the show.



Dimensions of the box

Gary from Toolemera asked me to publish some dimensions of the box.  The carcass is constructed with 3/4" oak, edge glued from narrower pieces.  The box is 32 1/2" tall and 43 1/4" wide when opened.  I've taken some pictures of the drawers and tills so that anyone who wants to copy it can do so.

Left elevation

 Left depth

 Right depth

Right elevation

Right width

Drawer detail, front is 1/2" thick, sides and bottom are 3/16"

Tool holding detail

Tool holding with scale

Tool holding elevation

The left till is 17 1/2" wide.  The swinging gate with hooks is make of 1/2" thick material, 12 1/2" by 12 1/2" square.  

I'm contemplating doing a quick and dirty Sketchup model of the box.  Would any of you like the file, if I do one?


I got another one...


My apologies for the delay between posts. It has been a very busy summer, with very little time to rust hunt. Today, I got a chance to hit an antique show, and boy I'm glad I did. The Utica Antique Show, in Utica, Michigan, was my destination.

I've never been to this show and I had no idea what to expect. I saw a few common tools, but nothing to write home about. After walking around for about 30 minutes, I found a fairly clean corner brace that was worth buying. I also found a "Musical Saw", a specially tempered sawblade that has some sort of brass plating. It is designed to be played with a violin bow to make music. I'd never heard of this before but had to buy it. I walked around the corner of the row and into the next tent, with no idea of what I was about to find...

You may remember an earlier post about a carriage makers tool box that I purchased in Mason, Michigan. Well, I found another carriage makers box, only this one had some even nicer "goodies" inside...

 The outside of the box

The inside of the box

 The planes

Unfortunately, it looks like a fair number of the tools have been lost.  There were no chisels in the box and only one small Henry Disston and Sons backsaw with a round handle.  There are the usual marking tools, including a pair of really nice bevel gauges.  The metal planes are all in really great shape, with only very minor surface rust on the castings.  They include a Stanley 5 1/2C, a Ohio Tool No 06 corrugated fore plane, a Stanley 10 rabbet bench plane and a Tower and Lyon 9" smoothing plane.  The smoothing plane on the left is lignum vitae, unfortunately the mouth is a little too wide to use as a fine smoother. The wooden horned planes do have the wedges and irons, they are stored in the lower right side drawer.  There is a nice 9" I and IJ White draw knife, which goes with my 12" White knife.  In addition, there is a carriage makers router draw knife.

There was also a very small plane blade that has Japanese characters on it.  Does anyone have any idea how to identify the maker of the blade? I understand that some Japanese blades are quite old and potentially valuable.  Any insights would be much appreciated.

I couldn't be happier with my new find.  Given that so many of the original tools are gone, I will probably sell a few of the items to make my money back, so if you see anything you have to have, shoot me an email at zacharydillinger@gmail.com.  


Tool storage

Well, its been a busy month for me and I've been away from the shop.  I finally got some time out there over the weekend and I managed to fill my recently-completed tool chest.  I took some pics.

The chest itself is an old one that I purchased in Allen, MI.  It doesn't look like much on the outside...

I left the outside alone, preferring the well-used look the chest has earned over the years.  The inside, however, I modified to suit my own needs, inspired by the toolchest Roy Underhill features in The Woodwright's Workbook: Further Explorations in Traditional Woodcraft

The front till is fixed in place and provides adequate storage for my user rip, panel, tenon and dovetail saws.  The rear till holds my spokeshaves and drawknives.  The middle drawer holds my auger bits, while the two flanking drawers hold miscellaneous small tools, such as my saw set and pencils. The rear till slides and provides access to my user molding planes.  The chest is a valued addition to my shop and protects my valued users. 

You may remember my post about my Gerstner and Jennings machinist tool boxes.  I grappled with how best to utilize them.  A while back, I purchased an old walnut dresser that was in really poor shape.  I paid all of $5 for it and figured that I'd use the drawer pulls on another project. Well, I had another idea...

I simply lifted the dresser up onto an old moving dolly, removed the top two drawer partitions (the drawers were busted anyway) and put a bottom in the newly-opened top bay.  I put the Jennings box in this bay and am now storing my chisels, screwdrivers, rasps and gouges there.  I put the Gerstner box on top and use it to store my collection of Starrett marking tools and other small tools.  I couldn't be happier with the utility of the now-mobile box. It isn't as pretty as some of the chests featured in Jim Tolpin's book, The Toolbox Book: A Craftsman's Guide to Tool Chests, Cabinets, and Storage Systems, but it'll do.

Thanks for reading.  Here's hoping you enjoy some shop time and more time to shop for your latest treasures.


My new shop upgrade

My wife and I have lived in our new home for just about a year.  In that time, I've managed to do some really good work in my shop but I've always felt that a little more light was in order.  This weekend, I rectified that problem.

 My old bench wall. Functional, but drab.  Not a very inspiring place to work

I paid a visit to my local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  If you've never been, I highly encourage you to check it out.  They stock many recycled building supplies, hardware, lighting fixtures and other similar items.  Best of all, the profits go to support Habitat for Humanity.

I walked out of the store with two newer new construction windows.  They are double paned, steel frame and quite heavy.  Best of all, I paid $30 for the pair and I even scored a EC Atkins miter box saw there as well.

A new view of the world

They were easy to install, look great and add a ton of natural light to the shop.  They will make my shop a very pleasant place to spend the few moments I get out there each week.  Now, I just need some insulation, a few pieces of paneling and some trim and my shop will look great.


Gerstner and Jennings tool chests

I got out of work early on Friday and decided to hit one of my favorite hunting spots, the Livingston Antique Mall in Howell.  It's a good sized mall with a good selection of antiques, including a fair number of tools.  I walked around the corner and I saw this tool box.

Well, my blood started pumping faster.  Could this be a Gerstner, I thought.  Well, of course, it is a beautiful example from that famous Dayton, Ohio company.

The wood has a beautiful patina from the years of use.  There is a tiny bit of bubbling veneer on the top of the box, but that should be an easy fix.  This particular box is a seven drawer model, lined with green felt.  The felt has seen better days so I'm planning on replacing this with Gerstner brown felt.

Best of all, I paid about $80 for this box.  I've never seen one in such good condition for such little money.  All the nickle-plated hardware is present and in great shape.  What a steal!

On my way home, I get a call from my wife.  She mentions that a family friend has a tool chest that I might like.  This family friend happens to be an elderly woman who is moving from her beautiful 1900-built home and there is a fair amount of "stuff" in it.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to go look.  Here's what I found.

The box is definitely in rough shape, but its a Jennings.  I've never seen a Jennings tool box.  In fact, I didn't even know they made boxes until I found this one.

The Jennings Company label on the inside of the lid

Beautiful filigree handles on the Jennings box
Clearly, the box needs some deep cleaning.  The original mortise lock is long gone and clearly the drawer handles aren't original.  Does anyone have any pictures or catalog pages that show what they might have looked like?

I've had a great Easter Weekend so far.  Here's hoping you get some time in your shop and some time to shop for your latest treasures.

MWTCA meet in Chesaning, MI on April 17th

This is a reminder that the Midwest Tool Collectors Association Area C has a meeting coming up on April 17th in Chesaning, MI.  If you are interested in the details, please email me.

Come out and support a fantastic organization.  I'll be there, buying and selling tools and talking to folks about woodworking.  It's a great way to make new friends and buy some tools at a fair price.  You'll find everything, from user chisels to highly collectible infill planes and cast iron levels.  You'll also see interesting themed displays on old tools.  Mike Stemple is running the Chesaning meet this year and he always has a great setup of rare and interesting saws. 

Don't miss out!  If you want to stay informed on the MWTCA, join today!  It only costs $25 a year and you get the following benefits:

* Attend with your spouse, the two annual national meetings as well as numerous local or regional meetings which are planned throughout the year. Featured at these meetings are tours and visits to appropriate museums, restorations and other sources of historical impact as well as lectures, seminars, films and interesting demonstrations of early crafts. Members are encouraged to display outstanding tools from their collections and to bring items for sale and trade. Programs for the non-member spouse are also an integral part of these meetings.

* A subscription to our magazine, THE GRISTMILL, a quarterly publication featuring stories about and of interest to MWTCA members as well as articles of educational importance written by and for tool collectors.

* All publications and reprints issued for each year of your membership with the Association. Over the years a wide and varied assortment of tool-related literature such as out of print tool and trade manuals, tool and hardware catalogs, etc. have been printed and distributed to the membership.


My shop

It's spring time cleaning in my shop.  With all the hours I've been working, cleaning hasn't been a huge priority.  It was getting to the point where I was no longer walking on the actual floor, but on wood shavings.  While sweeping up I took the opportunity to take some pictures.

My shop is the back half of a two car tandem garage.  It measures 15 feet by 20 feet, more than large enough for the hand tool work I do.  It is a simple wood-frame with wood siding, as you can see from the pictures.  My projects for this year will be the installation of some windows on my bench wall, as well as a new floor to go over the concrete.  I am blessed to have such a comfortable space in which to work; it just needs some more natural light.

My new Roubo bench with my Grammercy Tools holdfasts

Over the winter, as time allowed, I put this Roubo bench together.  The legs are 6" x 6" posts with pine stretchers.  The 24" wide top is actually made of laminated birch drawer sides with a quarter-sawn white oak front board and is 8 1/2 feet long.  The total cost of the top was less than $50, with another $40 for the legs and stretchers.  I used an adze to level the bottom of the bench before assembly and a 28" wooden jointer to level the top.  It was a lot of work to get a nice flat bench but I really couldn't be happier with it.

Extra top pieces. It took over a gallon of glue to put them together!

 The dog holes in the bench

 The leg vise... you might recognize it from an earlier post

I also took some pictures of some of my tool storage locations.  I use a wall mounted tool rack in front of my bench to store some measuring and marking tools, as well as a few of my most-used chisels.

My tool rack

My plane till holds my user metal planes, while a pair of cabinetmakers chests hold just about everything else.  The plane till was made to my own specifications, but based on a similar one by Chris Gochnour of Fine Woodworking magazine.

 My plane till, which also holds my scrapers and burnishers

My spokeshave and drawknife rack.,

My new springpole lathe

Finally, we come to my new springpole lathe.  This took me about ten hours to build, based on the plan from Roy Underhill's book, The Woodwright's Guide: Working Wood with Wedge and Edge.  I've only used it for a few minutes since finishing it, but I'm quite pleased.  I will probably build a sash-saw attachment similar to the one Roy shows in The Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft. Don't worry about the cobbled-together tool rest; a real one is in the works.

Well, that's a brief look at the important elements of my shop.  What do you think?   As always, here's hoping you get some time in your shop and the time to shop for your latest treasures.


Steve Cooke passes away at age 61

Popular Woodworking is reporting that Steve Cooke, the "Sharpening Guy", has passed away at age 61.  Like many of our fellow woodworkers, I'm deeply saddened at the loss of Steve.  I recently had an old Disston backsaw sharpened by him.  He returned it with a great sharpening job and even took the time to clean the blade a little and apply some wax to the tote.  The saw was, and is, beautiful.  It is my go-to joinery saw.  I was so pleased that I was just getting ready to send him some more saws.

Steve, you will be missed.  If you had any experience with Mr. Cooke, feel free to comment here.

A sad day.


My weekend tool haul

This weekend, the wife was busy with a bridal shower so I had the opportunity to sneak away to hunt a little rust. I ended up traveling over to Allegan to an antique store I'd never visited. It is called B & C Emporium and it represented one of the highlights of my tool hunting career. The owner, Craig, was a fellow tool-collector and he had a great selection of very solid tools. I ended up leaving the store a very happy Galoot.

The first thing I noticed in the tool area was this patternmakers molding plane.

It only has a 1 inch, 1 1/8 inch, 1 1/4 inch, and 3 inch bottoms and is missing the 1 1/8 inch blade. I figure it shouldn't be that hard to make a new blade and perhaps add a few new radius profiles to the kit. This one is getting a special place in my tool box.

I also bought this backsaw. I have a weakness for backsaws and I've been gathering quite a few over the last few months.

This example is a J Taylor and Son, with the lamb logo. It also has split nuts, so I figure the saw dates to the 1860s or so. It needs to be retoothed, as someone in its history really goofed them up.

My final purchase at B & C Emporium was this really nice 12" Starrett level.

After leaving B & C Emporium, I decided to head over to the Lake Odessa Antique mall. I've been there many times and I've always had good luck. This trip was no exception...

My big find of the weekend was this James Fray Spofford pattern brace.

This has the somewhat rare March 23, 1880 patent date and is nickle plated with cocobolo wrist handle and top pad. Unfortunately, the pewter inlays are missing from the grooves in the wrist handle. This is easily the nicest brace I own. I'm still trying to pinpoint exactly how uncommon this brace is and if it should go on the user shelf or in a display case.

While at the mall, I also found this odd spokeshave.

There are no makers marks anywhere on it. Anyone have any ideas?

As you can see, I had quite a good rust-hunting day. I can't wait to make some new new radius bottoms for that patternmaker's plane. Anyone ever done that? Have any advice?

Coming up next is my new spring pole lathe. I used it a bit today and was quite happy with the action and the results.

As always, here's hoping you get some time in your shop and time to shop for your latest treasures.


Good and gentle readers,

Finally, after much delay, I am able to post again. Work and weather have kept me away from both the blog and my shop, but with spring approaching and work slacking a tiny bit, I can finally get back to both!

In the following days, I'll be posting pics of my new Roubo bench as well as my soon-to-be completed spring pole lathe! As always, I'll post new pics of my latest tool finds.

Please let me know if there is anything you guys would like to see on the blog. I'm happy to accommodate!