The Perfect Canvas

I wonder if Chris understood what he was unleashing when he
first wrote about the Dutch Tool Chest. It’s the perfect blank canvas for
woodworkers to exercise their ingenuity. Just a quick internet search will
spill pages of configurations, colors, and creativity.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about DTC design and
execution lately. This spring I’m co-teaching a class where students will build
a version of the chest — but with a twist. My partner in crime is Thomas Latanè, one of the best blacksmiths working today, so
the surprise spoiler is students will be both building the chest with me AND
forging the hardware with Tom.

My influence for the project is easy to see but Tom’s comes from the tool chests that were attached to the sides of Conestoga wagons (a form curiously similar to the DTC). On many surviving pieces the strap hinge swings on a clenched staple as opposed to a standard barrel and pin. The example chest in the photo wears Tom’s vision for the hardware but there is opportunity for students to create something as complex or as simple as their skill set and time allows.

I’m really excited to be a part of this, it’s a wonderful
handshake between two crafts that frankly ought to hang out together more
often. The class will be divided into two, spending the morning with one
instructor and trading to the other for the afternoon.

We’ve chosen to host the class at the picturesque Tunnel Mill Craft School just a few miles south of Rochester, Minn. Unlike many schools, they offer a dormitory bed and meals included in the price of tuition. After the official class time is over, it’s open campus where students can catch up in either area they feel they need to or just hang around the common room and enjoy the community.

Now the important stuff:

The class is May 2-5, and there are openings for only eight students this go around – so please don’t miss your chance. Dual skill classes are a rarity.

For pricing, booking, and questions email Carol Adams
at or call 507-289-4189.

Derek Olson
Oldwolf Workshop Studio

See more of Tunnel Mill at

See more of Thomas Latanè’s work at

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