Saturday I had the unique opportunity to visit the H.O. Studley tool chest. Just me and 30 of Don Williams’ closest acquaintances. From 10:00 to 11:00 AM. All it cost me was transport to the Scottish Rite Temple in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the cost of a ticket ($25). Parking was free.

The Tool Chest in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

The Tool Chest in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

For the rational out there not salivating, Henry O. Studley (1838-1925) was an organ and piano maker, carpenter, and Mason who worked for the Smith Organ Co., and later for the Poole Piano Company of Quincy, Massachusetts. And he made on freakin’ amazing tool chest.

The right half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

The right half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

This exhibit was arranged by Don Williams, late of the Smithsonian, and the unknown private owner of the chest and accompanying bench. Now that the exhibit is over, it is being returned to its undisclosed location. The only way to experience it is to buy a copy of Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley from the good folks at Lost Art Press.

The left half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting

The left half in a darkened room with dramatic lighting.

Since I am taller than most people, (at least taller than Megan Fitzpatrick), I was able to see the dovetails at the top of the case. They were fine dovetails just cut in an orientation that many people found odd.

Dovetails one one side.

Dovetails one one side.

Dovetails on the other.

Dovetails on the other.

Conventional wisdom (which is often neither) would have the tails on the sides encompassing the pins keeping the top and bottom attached to the sides and defying gravity. There were some murmurs and a low-level of confusion. When you look at the center, you get an appreciation for why they were cut as they were:

The center dovetails.

The center dovetails.

There may be stress on the top and bottom of the case but when the case is opened, the major forces are trying to pull the sides away from top and bottom. Henry was right, like I really need to tell you that. Assuming that’s what he was thinking.

Did I mention there was a matching bench?

He made a bench, too.

He made a bench, too.

A very nice bench.

A very nice bench.

For a nostalgic look at the tool chest, check out a less reverential visit to the chest by our old friend Norm by clicking HERE.

Norm and the Studley chest. Two icons in one.

Norm and the Studley chest. Two icons in one video.

And another video showing the loading of the chest HERE.

There are more if you look for them.