Antique Tool Chest

This is by far the oldest reader’s project we’ve had submitted (more accurately, ancestor of reader’s project), but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Its longevity is a true compliment to its maker.

My great-grandfather was a finish carpenter for a company that made huge riverboats. He specialty was doing the fine trim work in the Captain’s quarters. He built this tool chest around 1870 and is 36″ x 22″ x 18″ and is made out of just six pieces of cherry. When I got it, I thought it had been painted as it was mostly black and my intention at that time was to just clean it up and repaint it. When I discovered what was underneath the dirt and the stains, I refinished it to what you now see. It is a treasured piece of furniture in our living room.

- Kent A Russell; Middletown, Indiana

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tool chest

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tool chest

Fingers Crossed for Chestnut Revival

A few years ago I had the good fortune to run across a supply of wormy chestnut lumber. The tree was felled here in Ohio, and the gentleman who owned the lumber remembered where the tree had stood in the 1920s when he was a boy. The boards were thick and wide—virgin timber that can’t be replaced. After significant consternation, and with much care, I decided to use that lumber to build a tool chest for my shop. We ran it as a project in our June 2008 print magazine.

Among many varieties of lumber I’ve had the chance to build with, this chestnut is the most special to me. You probably already know that American chestnut trees have been all but extinct in this country since the middle of the last century. Massive forests of native chestnut, which once covered much of the eastern part of the United States, were wiped out by a blight that came here from Asia around 1904. Within a period of only 50 years or so, it decimated the species, leaving stands of dead trees in its wake.

The blight continues to weaken and kill the few remaining native chestnut saplings that spring up from old stumps today.

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