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The piano maker who assembled this incredible toolkit died in 1925. His name was H.O. Studley. A poster is available through Fine Woodworking magazine. I resisted all kinds of “Studley chest” puns in titling this article. I hope you appreciate it.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.


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  1. RocketGuy says:

    As in the secret society, not a stone worker. My grandfather was one too. “Brother” is a title within the Masons, and the mason symbol is evident inside the tool chest just to the left of the 4th hinge (from the top). Kinda appropriate, actually, the divider/square.

    Great tool chest! This really inspires me to spend a bit of time outfitting my about-to-be-built work shed with some real organizational quality. The “bunch of crap in bins” approach I’m suffering under now just doesn’t cut it. I’m spending a lot of time wondering where my stuff is, or worse forgetting I have it.

  2. Frank says:

    I tried to organise my workshop once. I installed a peg board and found a place for each tool. Two weeks later I had more tools and no room to hang them. They’re either stuffed in drawers, or permanently living on the bench.

    Is there a secret to this? Should I keep track of my tool in-flow and only organise when I get down to 1 new tool a month. Or should I guesstimate that I only have 25% of all tools and allow for this growth?

  3. Jeff says:

    I’m surprised the tool chest of a piano maker doesn’t use piano hinges.

  4. Gina Eide says:

    Thanks to Makezine for highlighting this awesome chest! Glad it inspired some readers to get organized. The question is… how much beauty to you need to get shop mess under control.

    We recently held a tool chest contest (http://www.finewoodworking.com/contest/tool-chests-cabinets) and got a lot of grief because some thought our top choice was impractical: “The winner’s an impresive piece of work but absurd as a tool chest.” (http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/16443/tool-chest-contest-winner-is-selected)

    What do you think? Is peg board and plywood the real way to go?

    -Gina Eide, FineWoodworking.com

  5. EdC says:

    This tool chest was in the Smithsonian for many years, at the Museum of American History, though since its recent sale its display has been intermittent. It’s a real shame that it was sold to a private buyer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_O._Studley