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Big thanks to TM reader Matt who emailed us about this awesome video from the DIY Network in which Norm Abram shows off what might just be the most intricate, ornate, and artful tool chest… in the world. (/Clarkson). Norm says it was built by a Boston piano maker named “Henry Studley” (completely appropriate surname, btw) and features Honduran mahogany with ebony panels. But the magic is inside.

Norm opens the case in the video to show a massive number of woodworking tools (300 to 400, he says) layered three and four deep via an intricate system of hinged mounting panels. Note the little architecturally-styled accents, like the one around the cubby holding a Stanley #1 plane. Seriously, folks, if you’re a Toolmonger and you’re only going to watch one video today, this is the one.

Best Tool Chest Ever [LiveLeak, via DIY]


16 Responses to The Greatest Tool Chest Ever Constructed?

  1. Toolhearty says:

    If I were able to make something as awesome as that…

    I’d put away all the tools filling every space, close the doors, stand back and admire my work, and there would be one screwdriver left on the table.

  2. shotdog says:

    This tool chest was featured on the back cover of Fine Woodworking a bunch of years ago. FW offered a poster of the image of the chest, a copy of which hangs in my shop. You have to see a good image truly to appreciate how intricately and well done it is. sd

  3. Mac says:

    Have seen this (and the FW pic) a bunch of times. It is breathtaking every time. It ought to be re-posted periodically, it’s that good. Thanks.

  4. Rembret says:

    +1 Toolhearty

  5. Bill Clay says:

    Please…. It’s Norm Abram not Abrams.

  6. Brau says:

    It appears, from history, Mr Studley wasn’t exactly known for his piano making. Perhaps he should have made tool boxes instead. It is very beautiful but I notice there’s not much visible wear on any of the tools. It occurs to me this could be an ancient “poser” workshop where everything is too neat to get work done.

  7. Jon G. says:

    Just the fact that the set includes a Stanley #1 is incredible.

  8. fred says:

    Google Duncan Phyfe Toolbox to see another historical treasure

  9. kdp says:

    Building something like this is just DARING fate to come up with a new tool or technique that either makes half these tools obsolete or compliments them but can’t be made to fit in the box. It’s the same thing (on a much smaller scale) when I rework how my little corner of the garage is organized – soon something will come along that shootcans all that effort.

    Nice work though.

  10. Steve says:

    @kdp Thats part of the greatness of the box. But I dont think there is any claim of completeness that goes with the box. Could just be the collection of this guy. I am more interested in the process of making something like this then the end result. How much did he change it along the way? did he start with the tools that he has in there now or did the set grow as he built?

  11. Toolhearty says:

    Steve Says:
    How much did he change it along the way? did he start with the tools that he has in there now or did the set grow as he built?

    Those were the tools he needed to build the box.

    (kinda’ comes around in a nice, complete circle that way)

  12. wogdog says:

    I just love the Jeremy Clarkson reference…

  13. Rick says:

    Chuck, you’ve made one major mistake in this article.

    You put a question mark at the end of the title. The Studley IS the best tool chest ever constructed. Even the name of the maker is perfect.

    Oh, and I love the Clarkson reference too. 😉

  14. Squidwelder says:

    I have to agree with Mac. This needs to get reposted from time to time. Its sheer awesomeness demands it, and the fact that someone can put that much care into something as simple as a toolbox serves as an example to all of us, whether we work with wood, metal, twine, concrete, or any other material.

  15. dave says:

    Certainly a thing of beauty, one any of us would love to have on display but I can’t help but think “WOW THIS GUY WAS REALLY MENTALLY ILL”.

    Being neat and tidy is essential when you have a lot of tools but this level of compulsion is the sign of a mental problem more than craftsmanship. If you wanted to devote an obscene amount of time towards building one yourself, you too could do so if you either have or can train yourself to have the patience.

    Then again, he didn’t have the internet or TV to distract him. A guy will do just about anything to stay occupied.

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