Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 5
   May 2012
 
   Using Magnets to Store Chisels
 

For years, I made do with an inherited set of mismatched and battered chisels that had seen better days. They were stored loosely in a tool chest, where their cutting edges were dulled through frequent contact with drawer sides. Moreover, that heavy tool chest had to be hauled out from beneath a workbench whenever I needed to access its contents.

Needless to say, those chisels were not pressed into service very often. When I needed to do some trimming, I tended to reach for a utility knife. Last year, after I upgraded my chisel collection, I resolved to devise a better way of storing them, so they'd be well protected and easily accessed.

The design criteria were straightforward:

  • I needed a compact storage cabinet that would enclose the chisels to protect their cutting edges while warding off dust and other workshop debris.
  • The tools had to be easy to remove and replace without posing a threat to my fingers.
  • The storage unit had to be within easy reach of my workbench.
  Chisel cabinet
  A plastic window enables an instant inventory to ensure that no chisels have been left lying about where they could snag a wayward hand.
Considering space and layout factors, I opted for a shallow cabinet that would hold the chisels in a vertical position and that would occupy a corner at the end of my workbench without intruding excessively upon the work surface.

One design issue that I puzzled over was how to store the chisels in a vertical position. Initially, I envisaged a rack arrangement for suspending them with their handles upward. This approach did not appeal to me because I was concerned about the possibility of dropping a chisel during retrieval or replacement, which would send it plunging downward onto its sharp end.

One day while examining the chisel display in my local Lee Valley showroom, I came upon the solution: instead of suspending the chisels with their handles up, why not just park their butts in a row of blind holes in the cabinet base? One-third of the way up the cabinet, add a crossbar with semi-circular notches to align the chisels vertically so they stay clear of each other. Two-thirds of the way up, add another crossbar fitted with a row of rare-earth magnets to secure each chisel in its proper position.
 
 
         
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