Found Treasure

While looking through my collection of photos, I found a picture of a box that I made many years ago. It was my idea of what a treasure chest looked like.

I have added this chest to my gallery under the year 2009.

Small Treasure Chest

Although relatively small (only 13″ long), it was made very sturdily and weighed a lot – even when empty. The box was constructed with 3/4″ red oak, dyed with a dark walnut aniline dye. I cold-forged the strap hinges and handles, and fastened them to the chest with pyramid head screws.

This chest inspired the large yew treasure chest I made the following year that was featured in the Taunton Press book, Blanket Chests by Peter S. Turner and Scott Gibson.


My Fastener Storage System

Last week, Tom Iovino featured my site on his blog, Tom’s Workbench.  This was part of his write-up about my work.

“Chris has a very skilled eye for design and incorporating bold, natural shapes in his woodworking projects.”

- Tom Iovino

He also included this picture of me in my workshop.


Ben Strano (@sonicfedora) spotted my fasteners cabinet in the background and asked for some details, so here they are.

Above my workbench, fasteners and small hardware bits are stored in clear plastic divider boxes with self-locking lids that prevent spills.  (I also have another group of them near my drill press where they hold screwdriver bits, countersinks, pen parts and more.)


The top shelf contains divider boxes with small box hardware, magnets, and 8-32 bolts for handles and knobs.  The next shelf has trim-head screws, boxes of nails, wooden plugs, and picture framing hardware.  I rarely access the contents of the top two shelves.

The boxes on the middle shelf hold round-head screws and the one below holds flat-head screws.  On the bottom row are boxes of 1/4-20 hardware.


Whether working at my bench or elsewhere, I appreciate the unwillingness of the divider boxes to spill their contents regardless of whether their lids are open or closed.  Whenever working on something that requires assembly or disassembly, I grab an empty divider box to contain all the parts as well as screwdriver bits, drill bits, hex keys or other small bits.

I’ve been using these divider boxes for just over three years and have been really happy with the system.  They contain and organize my hardware, make it easy to sort, identify and select, and do not create any problems in doing so.  Which reminds me that I need to buy some more of those boxes…

Hardware Inspires Me

Experienced woodworkers know that one of the keys to a successful project is to have the hardware that will be used on-hand before the planning stage is complete and building begins. While having a thorough (and accurate) understanding of the hardware is one reason to explore what is available, I also study hardware for inspiration.  The wide variety of hardware available today exhibits so many textures, lines and shapes.  Here are some of the pieces of hardware from the Lee Valley Tools Ltd. catalog that inspire me.

Sometimes I think about what the piece of furniture I might build would look like to go with a particular piece of hardware.

Cast Steel Hands from Lee Valley Tools Ltd.

Other times, I visualize a certain element of the hardware incorporated into a design.

Hollywood open handle from Lee Valley Tools Ltd.

Or I may imagine the pull or knob scaled up as a piece of furniture.

Playful Nature handle

The Eastside Culture Crawl is an annual event where artists of various mediums open their studios to the public.  This pair of antique nickel pulls with a decidedly organic design are from exhibitor Big Bang Boom.  Both are the same size and shape, but not quite identical.

These pulls are the type of hardware around which I could design something.  This page of my sketchbook shows some of the possible orientations for the pulls.

A page from my sketchbook

While sketching I focus on drawing as many possibilities as I can, regardless of whether I think they are good ideas or not.  I feel that the two pulls should be located close together to visually tie them together.  That suggests they would be used as door pulls rather than drawer pulls which are typically mounted in the middle of the drawer to prevent binding when opening.

Or is there a way to have them as drawer pulls close together and not have the drawer bind?

Black Locust Wall Table, Part III: Testing Blind Mounting Hardware

In Part I and Part II, I built this prototype table which was to be mounted on a wall.

The next step in the design and construction of the table was to install hardware that would allow it to be mounted to a wall.

The simplest way to attach the table would have been a pair of big lag bolts right through the table’s upright into a stud in the wall.  It would have been very secure but hardly elegant.  In a piece of a different style, lag bolts might have looked right at home but not with this table.

I needed something discreet – something that would be completely concealed when installed.  I tried three different mounting systems before finding one that I liked and documented my experimentation in the following video.  (Duration – 3:49)

Featured in a New Book!

Last August, I got word of a call for submissions from Taunton Press for a new book on blanket chests.  A few years earlier, I had built a small chest with compound-tapered sides and a coopered top.  I had also forged the hardware myself, including the handles and strap hinges.  I completed it the night of the deadline and sent off my submission.

When I learned that my chest had made it through the first round of selection, I was asked to provide photos to their specifications and complete a questionaire.  As long as I was able to complete those two tasks by October 19, my box would make it into the book.  I asked a friend to help shoot the box and we spent one sunny afternoon taking the required shots.  It was difficult selecting the best few from the over one hundred photos we took.  I submitted the questionnaire along with the photos.

The book, Blanket Chests, authored by Peter Turner and Scott Gibson, is now available for pre-order from the Taunton Bookstore.  It will be available in stores March, 2011.

I am in the good company of 29 other fine woodworkers.  I’ve taken the list of chests and makers from the Taunton site and added links to the makers’ websites.

Waterfall Chest – Brian Sargent, New Hampshire
Bermudan Chest – Austin Kane Matheson, Maine
Red Leaf Chest – Michael Cullen, California
Plain and Simple – John McAlevy, Maine
A Chest for Life – Laura Mays, Ireland
Modern Lines – Libby Schrum, Maine
The Un-Chest – Robert Schultz, Wisconsin
Chest of Blankets – Richard Vaughan, Australia
Dogwood Blanket Chest – Craig Thibodeau, California
A Chest for Work – Terry Moore, New Hampshire
Little House – Peter Pierobon, British Columbia
Sea Chest – Mitch Ryerson, Massachusetts
A Boat Builder’s Chest – Ejler Hjorth-Westh, California
Flower Power – Brian Reid, Maine
Danika’s Chest – Ted Blachly, New Hampshire
Chest in the Round – Gregory Smith, California
Curly Cherry Classic – Charles Durfee, Maine
Celebrating Arts and Crafts – Darrell Peart, Washington
Alabama Man – J-P Vilkman, Finland
A Wedding Chest – Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, Massachusetts
Cabinetmaking Traditions – Bruce Eaton, New Hampshire
Pilgrim Century – David Stenstrom, Maine
Function Meets Elegance – Shona Kinniburgh, Scotland
Wood That Flows – Peter Turner, Maine
Treasure Chest – Chris Wong, Canada
Simply Proportions – Liza Wheeler, Maine
Box of Blue – Garrett Hack, Vermont
Chest as Storyteller – Jeffrey Cooper, New Hampshire
Unexpected Details – Carol Bass, Maine
A Pair of Oak Chests – Stephen Lamont, United Kingdom

If you can help me find links for Roberts Schultz, Bruce Eaton, David Stenstrom, Liza Wheeler, or Carol Bass, or if you have any corrections or broken links to report, you can contact me at