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This may be the most impressive woodworking feat I’ve ever seen. The photo above was made in the mid-1800s by a Mason named Henry O. Studley, a piano maker and carpenter. Materials include mahogany, rosewood, walnut, ebony, and mother-of-pearl, so finely crafted that each tool clicks snugly into place and remains when the wall-mounted box is vertical, even though there are no built-in locks. Two layers on one side and three on the other are enough to store around three hundred tools in 39″ x 20″ x 9″.

It takes a Toolmonger with a heart of stone to avoid falling in love with this remarkable chest. An expert craftsman with a lifetime’s experience in a demanding trade made this practical and fantastically beautiful box from scraps, and was probably the kind to use it every day. If this were your work, imagine the little twinge of satisfaction every time you reached for a tool. Mr. Studley’s work is a practical, gorgeous display of his incredible skill, and he’d undoubtedly be proud to see his work on display at its current home in the Smithsonian.

The H.O. Studley tool chest [Fine Woodworking]
Henry O. Studley [Wikipedia]

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9 Responses to It’s Just Cool: The Studley Tool Chest

  1. Frank Townend says:

    If I remember correctly, you posted this some time ago. No matter, great workmanship and a wonderful reminder of true craftsmanship.

  2. apotheosis says:

    If it’s a repost, it’s one I hadn’t seen before. That’s absolutely gorgeous work.

  3. Joe says:

    I was under the impression that this was no longer in the Smithsonian, but was in a collector’s private collection. Is it still on display somewhere?

  4. Old Coot says:

    Just beautiful. And there’s even some room for a laser.

  5. Lex Dodson says:

    The chest is currently owned by a private collector (lucky sod) who loans it to the Smithsonian from time to time. Nice to know he isn’t hogging one of the most impressive artifacts I’ve ever seen.

  6. Choscura says:

    I have to have one. guess I’d better start looking for appropriate wood- maybe some teak?

  7. Jasony says:

    Norm had this on his show about building a wall mounted tool chest. I built Norm’s version but lusted after this sucker. Nice post.

  8. Karl says:

    Henry Studley would probably be disappointed to see it sitting in a museum rather than being used. After all, he almost certainly made it to be used.

  9. Squidwelder says:

    I can only grovel in the sight of this. I am not worthy, I am so not worthy…

    Mr. Studley, your work lives up to your name.

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