Monday, January 28, 2013

Boxing Clever

In a bid to kick re-start the longest rumination over a tool cabinet build in human history, I've been perusing the Google image search using suitable parameters for inspiration. There is much of it, but can get a bit "samey" unless you dig deep. Digging really deep, I stumbled over this tool box. In the very likely event that said page will disappear into the retailing ether before we're all very much older, I'll repeat the salient facts, and all the pics here. Because I find it utterly fascinating.

Attributed as 19thC American, 10 inches wide, 14 inches high, 3.5 inches deep. i.e. Holy smokes, that's small. Hardly bigger than a sheet of paper. 

Applying the helpful inch scale provided by the folding rule, I reckon the materials to all be 0.5 inch thick, including the door and (I think) the back. So the interior space is teeny-tiny.

If it wasn't for the big brass square/bevel doodah, I might well have assumed it was for a child, because all the other tools are entirely kiddie friendly. My mind, and brief research, has drawn a blank on the square's name and purpose, which might give us a clue as to the purpose of this kit.

Cranked brass hinges. All the hardware is pretty robust and looks like good quality.

The carry handle is anything but flimsy. And pivots. For a purpose, or just what was available?

The body of the box takes something of a Studleyesque approach to squeezing in a lot of tools in a small space. It helps when they're small - I estimate the miniature plane is only about 2.25 - 2.5 inches long. Not absolutely sure of the tool in the corner with the bulbous handle. It seems to have a point on the end of the handle, which can't be comfortable, and a rather bashed up appearance to the brass below the wood.

Things get really interesting in the bottom half. First off, some saw medallion re-use there, which I'm partial to. Secondly, the worlds smallest claw hammer? Thirdly, the spokeshave. Okay, I can see how you'd probably have to trim down the handles to get it to fit, but amputate them entirely? Fourthly, it appears that the section with the hammer, square, and rule will hinge down. Is it there we'd find chisels? Screwdriver? Gouges? Brace bits?

Despite the pretty rough finish on some of the interior, clearly this wasn't built by a total mug; perfectly good panel door there, to go with the dovetailed carcass. The hanging pull and hooks seem a bit odd for a box that appears designed for transport, so I wonder if they were a later addition.

Which all leaves me wondering what this box o' tools was for. It'd probably help to identify the square 'n' bevel, but I reckon the contents suggests the exact fitting of something, probably in a confined or restricted space. And really it's too bad we can't find out what's behind the hinged section.

Anyway, it's given me plenty of entertainment. Trouble is it's also distracted me into wondering about building one, which is entirely not helpful. Where's that To Do List...?


  1. I wonder if it was a musical instrument maker's toolkit.

  2. Nice find Alf, it certainly does have more than a whiff of the Studleys. Thank you for preserving it in digital perpetuity.


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