Cliching and the Tool Chest – VIDEO

by | Sep 16, 2013 | 39 comments



In this video I show my two favourite methods for clinching nails and then use the technique for building my tool chest. This was a quick Sunday afternoon project that was great fun to build and should do a nice job of housing my tools whenever I need to cart them about.

If you’ve read my posts from last week then you’ll know that this rough and ready approach wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind for my tool chest. But after struggling to find the time for a good few years now I’m really pleased to finally have something built. It’s interesting how building a piece like this can inspire you, and it’s given me a lot of ideas to try out in other project down the line.

I still have the handles and some sort of racking to complete on the inside so I’ll be sure to post about those once I get them completed.

We’ll be uploading a plan for this tool chest later on in the week.

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Dave

    Nice informative video Richard. I learned to clinch nails many years ago, but have not used this method in years. I can see a few ideas where it can be used besides the tool chest. Thank you.

  2. Mark

    Thanks for the shout out to nails. I never use them anymore. In fact I don’t even have any. However, if I get off my high horse, I think I’ll find some good uses for them. I have never heard of the cleat before, very simple and clever, you’ll won’t catch your skin on nail end either.

  3. Marty Backe

    Loved the video.

    Such a rustic box, yet the small details gives it a certain amount of elegance. And the lid support is great. I’d like to try that on a small desktop type box. Very clever.

  4. Ken

    Nice work Richard, thanks for this one. 😉

  5. patrick anderson

    Nice build. Reminds me a bit of the Japanese toolboxes.

    Top marks for coining the phrase Shabby Shite!

  6. thekiltedwoodworker

    Best video I’ve seen to date on bendin’ over nails with a hammer, Richard.


  7. David

    From the Colonies:
    Well done old man, well done in deed.

  8. Micheal Kingsley

    WOW. I made the same box, only longer, when I was a Boyscout, some 35-40 years ago. We put all our camping gear in it, half shelters, tent stakes, rope, pots and pans and stuff in it for when we went camping. And believe it or not, I actually clinched the nails I used to build it and used the cross boards like you did, But I put my cross boards on the inside for a smoother exterior and I used hinges and a hasp. I should have turned it round , it would have made more room inside and made it easier to set on the ground and pick up, the way you did it. I used rope with knots on the ends for handles, just drilled holes to string them up. That bit about dulling the ends of the nails to prevent splits, I thought no one knew, I’ve been teaching folks that my whole life!

  9. Jonathan

    Very good video, inspiring and useful tips, although I was surprised you put all the nails in a straight line, and never offset them (one nail on the left of the cleat clenched to the right, one on the right clenched to the left, etc etc)? Perhaps less likely to split?
    I made a ledge & brace side gate a while ago using clenched nails. I used the plier method except I held the protruding nail with the pliers flush against the board, bent the tip over with the hammer using the side of the pliers as a mini anvil to get that 7 shape, then drove the tip back down into the wood as normal.
    To be sure, clinching has a long and honourable history. There are viking long boats still in existence after well over 1000 years that were built from riven oak planks using clenched nails and copper washers….
    cheers, Jonathan

    PS neat video editing, that section when you change shots while planing and the rhythm of planing stays constant, nice touch!

  10. Stuart Gooda

    Lovin the videos and the blog posts keep up the good work fella

  11. Kees

    Most people hit their thumb with the hammer, but it looks like you managed to catch your pinky. Smart!

    Just kidding, good job and very educational. Now I hope I can find some oval nails overhere. Have to give it a try.

  12. TC

    Nice!Looks like a munitions box and the handle could be rope maybe? I think i might find the lid and it’s lip would get in the way when getting tools in and out. Just an thought but if the lid is non structural maybe just a lid with battens to locate it? Just being picky, sorry, i’m sure it’s spawned lots of ideas out there in shed land. Thanks for enlightening us again on a lost skill.

  13. TC

    Oh, and you know we’re going to nailing the work to the workbench….

  14. ScottV

    Very nice camera work and sound. Your canine shop assistant deserves credit as well for his appearance.

    Enjoyed the lesson. More of a tool “crate” than a tool box, but it should serve quite well. Your nails were just regular wire nails with the heads bludgeoned? I assume that cut nails will also work well, correct?


  15. Paul Chapman

    Great video and lots of good tips.

  16. david o'sullivan


  17. mihai

    Thanks for the simplicity of this lesson , for this project efficiency, and for the good tips.

  18. Dennis

    Have to say you make it look easy!! I surpose it is when you know. Brilliant video. Please make some more.

  19. Barry Lowis

    Hi Richard and Helen – another brilliant video, I am learning loads by watching you. Thanks very much. Will drop by and say hello next weekend at the show. All the best Barry

  20. Charles

    Hi Richard
    I only just discovered your site and videos and am loving them. I am a novice and shabby shite is about my level at the moment, so please keep them coming and I shall try to improve. I am also considering a visit to the show at the weekend – just wondering how to negotiate a pass!

  21. ralph boumenot

    Hi Richard,
    I have never seen the nails you used for this chest before. They appear to be ovalish and have a squashed head. Is this an English/European only nail? If so what are they called and where can I get some?

  22. Ian

    Good fun ! Always good to have an excuse to get the hammer out !

  23. Johhn Walker

    A nice one or two day project Richard.
    In the 70s, I had a similar box for my tools. No fitting out inside. Just piled in whatever tools I needed for a particular job. However, I did get fed up with sorting through loose tools, for what I needed, and of course I HAD to have my chisels in a roll, to protect them. In the end, I made another box, equipped with three simple box tills, to separate my tools into the various classes. Saws, chisels, hammers etc. But I empathise with your thinking. More of these ‘one-off’ projects will attract more beginners too, when they see what can be accomplished with a little forethought, and uncomplicated tools and techniques; they might be itching to have a go. Great eh? Regards

  24. Eddy Flynn

    great little box loved the shabby shite shabby chic shout keep these videos coming thanks for sharing

  25. Andre

    Nice vid guys, I learned some things again as in your previous videos.

    As for handles, nail a batten on to the cleats of each side of your chest and you’ll have made some handles…to keep within the nailing theme. No other tools needed than saw, hammer and plane.

    Thanks for keepin’ the craft alive.


  26. Owen

    Thank you for posting this video. Very charming colloquilalisms. Now I am going to my workshop to make a box.

    Will you please post the name of the singer and song at the end of the video. Thanks.

  27. John


    I know this isn’t woodwork related, but the singer could be Amy Whitehouse. However, I’m pretty sure it is Renee Olstead. A young vocalist, actress, model, etc. etc. Lovely voice, great delivery and reminiscent of Blossom Dearie. Do a YouTube search for her name and listen to ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’. Think you’ll like that. HTH.

    • Owen


      • John

        Most welcome Owen. Happy woodworking and happy surfing! 🙂

  28. Gary

    What a smashing video! Really informative and very entertaining, what more can you ask for!

  29. Robert Lindh

    Nice job…Like the tool chest!!!

  30. Jarrod

    Hey thanks for this informative and entertaining video! I’ve just found your blog recently and am so refreshed by the length, detail and expertise of your posts and videos. All of us amateur woodworkers will be watching anxiously for more!

  31. Matthew Johnson

    Hey great video, maybe an odd question but I would love to know who is the lady singing at the end of your videos? She has a beautiful voice and great style. Thanks! -Matthew

  32. Kermit

    Watching this brought to mind a time about 40 years ago when I was called on to replace the kitchen in an old farmhouse. All the cabinets were beyond saving and the layout was unworkable. When the owner heard me ooooh-ing about how all the old cases had been made, I was tasked to build all the cases the way the old ones had been. Lots of nailing and clenching, and not a bloody piece of plywood anywhere. A memorable project. I just moved shop and need to build some casework for storage. I think I’ll do it with nails!

  33. António


    This video was a great reminder for me…
    And i even built a “pirate chest” using clinching.
    This Saturday i took it to a very small local crafts fair just in case.
    I sold it and got orders for 2 more!


  34. TrophyJoe

    I clinched hundreds of custom packing crates for a furniture moving company back in the late 60’s. We used air nail guns on tables covered with a .25″ steel plate. Never considered clinching nails for real woodworking, but the results are appealing.

    I’ll be using the ‘your’ method for some shop cabinets to be built soon. Should give my ugly basement shop a cozier look.

    Thanks for the video. Found your site via Lost Art Press.

    BTW, where does one buy oval nails?

  35. Luke

    Love this box, great work, right up my street!

    Lovely little axe too, would love to see a little video on its use, maintenance sharpening etc

  36. Jim

    I enjoyed your video. Nice rusti look to the chest!

  37. Christopher Johnston

    I have the same toolbox in battleship grey with 1 inch rope handles . It is still going strong after 50 years .It was the first thing I made . That is a workmans toolbox Richard


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