Chisel Box

by Scott Truesdell

August 20, 2015

I have a set of chisels made in Sheffield, England, by Robert Sorby which I purchased some 30 years ago. Those who know hand tools know the reputation of "Sheffield Steel" and why these steels which are outstanding for hand tools have been disappearing, being replaced by steels more appropriate for mass production of power tools.

This set has lived for 30 years in the original cardboard box which has held up remarkably well. But the time had come for me to give the chisels a more permanent home.

The box proper is made from clear Baltic birch plywood which came with a minimal number of small voids. Any visible voids were filled with thick CA (super-glue) — a trick I learned from guitar repair experts. The inserts for holding the tools were made from cherry with a couple of walnut dowels used to register a glue joint. The glues were standard Titebond woodworking glue and CA.

The box was finished with Behlen B611-1406 Stringed Instrument Lacquer, a high quality nitrocellulose lacquer which I had to smuggle in from Arizona.

click on these images to see more detail

chisel box, closed
chisel box, opened
chisel box, interior

Of course, version 2 would be much different. This current box suffers from some engineering mistakes and the simple fact that a lot of it was designed on the fly, as work progressed. Like many projects, I would do a complete refactoring of the box.

A lot of this design was based on what tools I had in my garage. The tools used on this project were:

This quickie utilitarian project turned out pretty well (despite the engineering failures cited above) due in no small measure to the precision of the Sherline Milling Machine. The mill gets the credit for the tight joints and the smooth bores for the ferrules.