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Gentleman's Tool Chest, London, England, c.1770

Made in 1/12th scale by Wm. R. Robertson, 1997

18th Century Gentleman's Tool Chests are rare, with their original tools they are even more rare, with their tools and a receipt showing when the chest was bought, there is only 1 known. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation owns it. It was sold by William Hewlett of London on Feb. 13 1773 complete with tools which still rest in the chest nearly undisturbed. This and an empty Hewlett chest were displayed at a exhibit in 1993, Tools: Working Wood in 18th c. America.

What makes this a gentleman's tool chest? These were made with very fine materials and the tools were often polished. The Hewlett chest is mahogany and tools had handles of boxwood, rosewood and black wood. The tools are often a little smaller and more delicate than what a tradesman would use. These were quite expensive and sold to men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.


In 1997, William R. Robertson created the, 1/12th-scale, 2-inch-long chest with mopane and pearwood. It’s fully dovetailed with hand-sawn dust boards and dividers that are v-notched and crosslapped. The lid sides are tongue and grooved. He used 18th Century paper for the printed label. The rococo drop handles have beaded back plates. The chest has a working lock. All the tools can be used and are fully functional.


Tools have blades made of steel. Other metal parts are brass and handles are pearwood, African blackwood, boxwood, Bolivian rosewood and maple. Clockwise from left: Kent-style hatchet, claw hammer w/stapping, 5 gimlets, jackplane, divider, awl, round file, burnisher, folding rule, inside/outside caliper, bevel, marking gauge, square, backsaw, 3 turnscrews, smooth plane, saw wrest, 4 brad awls, oil stone in case, 3 tanged chisels, mallet, shears, riveting hammer, beak anvil and 2 gouges. 

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