The H. O. Studley Masonic Tool Chest

For those of you that don’t know, I collect boxes. There’s something about my psychology that makes me wild for neat

The studly tool box

The studly tool box

boxes. In addition to that, there are few more satisfying feelings than when I figure out how to pack a bunch of stuff into something efficiently. It should come as no suprise then, that this tool chest is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Currently owned by a private collector, it was once a centerpiece item at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.

Not only is this a display of maniacal obsession for crafting the perfect toolbox (over 300 instruments are contained in the 19.5′ x 39′ x 9.5′), but it is a collection of the finest woodworking, machinist and stonemasonry tools available before the turn of the century. See that plane in kind of the archway on the left side, but to the right of the big plane?  In 1993 that one piece was valued at $700.

Studley’s main trade was as a piano decorator. He constructed his workchest somewhere between 1890 and 1920. The chest was passed down from grandfather to grandson for 2 generations, and in one of the greatest trades since we acquired Long Island, one man got it from his brother for a 1934 Ford. It is truly a testament to an artisan’s love for his craft. Its not often when the mundane details of a person’s work can truly be called art, but I definitely feel there is something indescribable about this set.

Here is an article with a more in depth history of the man and his work:

Modern Woodworking

Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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