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.