Tansu-Inspired Tool Chest–Construction

Detail of a tansu-inspired tool chest.

Modern construction techniques belie a design inspired by tradition. Locking miters join the case and dadoes house the many dividers.

With the front of the case divided into doors and drawers, I was ready to begin construction. Construction of the cabinet provided an opportunity to clear out the 1/2″ cherry veneer plywood I’d accumulated over the course of several projects.

Locking miters join the case. I cut these on the router table, then used a dado jig to guide the router as I plowed the dadoes for the many dividers. With the case joinery cut, I glued up the case and applied shop-made edge banding, mitering the corners. I edge banded my divider stock and cut to length before rabbeting the ends and plowing dadoes where needed. After assembling the case, I glued the dividers in place and stapled the back into its rabbet.

To expedite assembly of so many drawers, I rabbeted them together. The drawers fronts and back are rabbeted to capture the sides. After assembling the drawer boxes, I routed a 1/4″ x 1/4″ rabbet to house their bottoms and glued some 1/4″ plywood in place. Shop sawn veneer and traditional ring pulls from Lee Valley complete the drawers. I bookmatched a resawn board to produce the slab door and completed the chest with an oil and wax finish.

tansu tool chest

The completed chest brings some order to the chaos in the space behind the bench.

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