A Simple Dutch Tool Chest for Hand Tool Storage

by ziggy on March 16, 2015 -- 1 comment -- Follow

Large Dutch Tool Chest Plans

The finished Dutch tool chest. No Netherlanders were harmed in this process.

I’m not gonna lie. I don’t think I’ve ever had proper tool storage. At Dancing Rabbit we had a nice tool shed for a while, which was great, actually. But things never had a proper place in there… and then we moved. And before that shed… well, don’t even ask.

In our current transitional living space, we finally have a makeshift workshop space. (That’s where our new workbench lives.) Which means we can do more woodworking projects. Which means some solid tool storage is even more important than before. Finally, some of my tools have some proper storage. I built a so-called ‘Dutch tool chest’ recently, and it’s doing a fine job at enabling some order amongst my slowly growing hand tool kit. Check it out…

Dutch Tool Chest Plans

Like I said above, as I do more woodworking and gather appropriate tools for making chairs and other furniture, proper tool storage is increasingly vital. Having stuff in random metal tool boxes and canvas bags and on filthy dusty shelves is no way to go. And as I’m building up my chairmaking toolkit in particular, I definitely want everything in one functional, accessible place while I work. (Thanks again to those folks who donated to my GoFundMe campaign for enabling me to acquire the tools to get going whole hog with the chairmaking venture!)

I don’t actually have a huge slew of woodworking hand tools. I try to keep hoarding to a minimum. I know I’ll eventually acquire more, but for now a moderately-sized tool chest is more than enough for me. While searching around for ideas, I came across these plans for a Dutch tool chest in Popular Woodworking. (The PDF download is worth the $6 for the plans and drawings.)

Large Dutch Tool Chest with Blue Milk Paint

The finished Dutch tool chest with blue milk paint

The size and construction really struck a chord with me. There’s nothing terribly fancy here. Which is good, because I’m definitely opting for function over flair here. The joinery is simple. The chest size is compact, yet it can hold a fair amount of goodies. The design is nice, with a slanted lid and nifty removable front. I decided to build the large version of the Dutch tool chest, which includes an extra shelf and bumps the overall height up.

Some Dutch Tool Chest Details

I used whatever wood was close at hand to build the chest. In this case, it meant some pretty wormy poplar that’s been sitting in storage for some unknown number of years. I wanted to keep this project inexpensive, so wormy poplar it was. I guess you can say the chest is “pre-aged” if you’d like.  It’s not the best looking wood in the world, but oh well… function rules the day here.

I followed the plans more or less all the way, and opted for the simpler ship lap back (instead of tongue and groove boards), and a very simple lid (with battens and screws to keep the lid flat) instead of a breadboard. There’s not a whole lot of challenging joinery in this thing. A few dovetails hold the bottom together, and most of the box is held together with screws. Despite that, it looks pretty nice and seems solid.

Large Dutch Tool Chest Plans 02

The large Dutch tool chest is pretty compact, yet it has quite a bit of storage capacity


The chest is plenty big enough for my needs at the moment. There’s lots of breathing room in there right now. I left the interior pretty open-ended, so if and when I acquire a few more hand saws and other tools, I can plug them in as needed. The interior of the lid is an excellent place to store a couple of nice saws, in fact…

Inside My Large Dutch Tool Chest

Looking inside the main compartment… looks like there’s still room for quite a few tools in there



The fall front on the Dutch tool chest is a pretty elegant feature. The front is held in place by two thin battens that slide into notches on the front, and they’re pulled out from the main compartment. The front can be set to the side while you work out of the chest, and popped back in place with the battens when it’s time to close things up again. Simple stuff.

Large Dutch Tool Chest Plans 01

These thin battens easily slide out of position and allow the fall front to be removed

Dutch Tool Chest Fall Front

The fall front slips easily out of position and can be stowed away while the chest is in use

For lifts (or handles), I made a pair out of some random oak I had. I made them up on the spot, and tried to avoid the “toilet paper holder” aesthetic as best I could. They still kinda look like they’re destined to hold a roll of TP, but maybe no one will notice…

Large Dutch Tool Chest Lifts

I tried my best to make these NOT look like toilet paper holders…

The chest is pretty heavy with even a few tools in it, so I don’t expect to be picking it up very often. Actually, my next project is a very simple mobile base — a stand about 18-20″ high that will get the chest off the floor, and castors on the legs will allow me to roll the tools around when needed.

The Dutch tool chest design is pretty versatile. Right now I’ve got my planes in there, and all of my chairmaking tools, plus a few other carving items I’d like to keep nice and safe. Jacob is building one right now with a few modifications to house his timber framing tools. That way when we’re building a frame, he can have all of his stuff in a central chest that sits on a table or bench at the site. Maybe one day I’ll make another one and play with the dimensions to be able to accommodate other types of tools too…

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  • Scorpmann 3518

    That design is very sturdy. I made one like yours (Double compartment), even used the same color of milk paint and hauled the thing all over the Iowa country side stashed in the back seat of a car, once in a mini van, up stairs, down stairs, used, abused and it still held up.

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