Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Antique Joiner's Tool Chest

Last summer while on one of my many work road trips to Prince Edward Island I stopped at a small antique shop in Cornwall to see if they had any old wooden molding planes.  I was in luck as they had a whole bathtub full and I spent a good hour looking through them to see which one might suit my fledgling molding plane collection.  What really caught my eye though was this old joiner's chest.

After chatting with the store owner a bit she informed me that all of the molding planes, there must have been fifty of them or so, had been stored inside this chest.  She purchased the chest at auction for an undisclosed amount.  Man, what a find that would be!  The store owner graciously allowed me to take all of the chest drawers out and photograph it.

I am by no means an expert on antiques but what I did notice is that the carcase of the chest was all made with a single width of board.  I'm guessing it was pine and about 18" tall.  I'd say the chest was likely about 36 " wide and maybe 20-24" inches deep.  When I first looked at the outside of the chest the coarse grain made me think it was oak or ash but upon closer inspection, you'll notice that there is face grain on the ends of the dovetail pins.  So the lighter colored part of the chest has been grain painted which is not something you see every day.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that this was a trend some time ago.

The craftsmanship that went into this chest is remarkable. I love how the lid is all pegged mortise and tenon joints and the wrapped in a edge frame that is dovetailed with a nice broad single dovetail.  The skirt boards around the top and lower part of the chest are all dovetailed and they have these heavy screws in a raised metal ferrule all around them that would aid in the durability of the chest.  It looks as though they've served this function well as the chest was in excellent condition.

Inside the chest there is a till along the front and three sliding drawers of slightly different widths that run on a stepped board at each side of the chest.  I didn't get a photo of this, but I beleive there was also a board under the till with holes in it that appeared to be for storage of chisels etc.

I probaly drooled over this chest for about 45 minutes when I realized I had to head back home.  I inquired as to what the price was and at $1300 was way too much for me.  Besides, if I bought one, it would mean I'd have no reason to build one and where's the fun in that? 
I drove by the same antique store a couple of weeks ago and intended to stop and see if the chest was sold and to add once again to my molding plane collection but lo and behold the store had either gone out of business or relocated.  I'm heading back to the island next week, perhaps I'll find another treasure!

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