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JOEL Joel's Blog

My Tool Box Part 3

11/18/2007 The Tills

My Tool Box Part 3 4As mentioned before the key to a good toolbox is the ability to reach any tool with one hand. One hand might be holding something so you don't want to have to need two hands to lift out a tray or hold a lid open. The traditional solution is sliding tills. Tills that slide front to back, not side to side, so that you can easily lift out long planes and things stored in the bottom of the toolbox. Bogger toolboxes can have three or four levels of tills but in my knaack box there was only room for two.
I had 3/4" poplar that I used for the sides but it looked a little heavy for the tills. So I hand milled it down to 1/2". Hand milling poplar is dead easy and I don't have a planer but it wasn't a big deal. The tills are straight dovetailed construction with the tails going front to back so that any street of sliding the tills wouldn't open the joint. The bottom is more poplar inset into a groove cut with a Stanley 45. The My Tool Box Part 3 5drawing shows the construction. I wanted as thin as possible a bottom that wouldn't rattle so I milled the poplar to 1/2" but I didn't want to lose any depth so I cut a 1/4" rabbet on the bottom so I would fit it with just a 9/16" loss of space. The bottom isn't glued in and is free to float, expand, and contract. I was concerned about the flexibility of the sides accidentally popping off the bottom when the tills were fully loaded, so I dovetailed in a divider using a Stanley 444. My Tool Box Part 3 6The main reason for using the 444 is I have had one for years and I wanted to know if it actually works. It does, but you can do this joint just as easily with a saw and a chisel.

The tills have to be a good fit in the liner, or they will rack and jam with use. This means of course accurate measurement and making sure everything is square. I laid out the tills with a knife directly from the liner and I don't think there is more than 1/16" of total play in the tills and liner, maybe less.
The tills rest on runners or ledges screwed into the liner, and the only thing that keeps them working smoothly is a little wax - which works like a charm.

So that's how my toolbox was built - it's not a big project, of course there are millions of permutations that might make it better for you, but I'm pretty happy with it. As I said earlier, there are no plans to this thing, I just took measurements as I needed them.

Join the conversation
03/09/2008 Jim Voos
I couldn't help but notice what looks like a Stanley miter plane setup on the right
of your toolbox. Is that what it is? I have lusted after one of those for years,
hoping that Lie-Nielsen would make one and I could spend a small fortune on
it. How do you like it compared to my wooden miter plane setup?


Yip - it's a Stanley 51/52 - it's the best shooting board I ever saw and for squaring the ends of stock has no peer. It's dead nuts accurate and the 51 plane is a great shooting plane - on the 52 or on a wooden shooting board. I've had it for years.
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