Every Tool in its Place – The Studley Tool Chest


No Unfinished Man’s home is complete without his own toolbox. Like rings on a tree, our toolboxes catalog our life. Growing from the humble 12-piece that we each carried in our car; we add hammers, wrenches, and screwdrivers of every variety. With our first apartment comes our first set of power tools, and with a home comes a table saw. Of course, how you keep your tools is just as revealing as the tools you have. Now I know some of you might think that old red box with things tossed in “willy-nilly” is good enough. Well it’s not you pantywaist, so pay attention.

Here I present the Studley Tool Chest, a beast of a by-gone era. Crafted by a one Henry Studley, a piano maker and gentleman extraordinaire. Nestling a staggering 300 tools into a chest that measures 9” x 39” x 18” when closed, this chest is a work of both art and engineering. Crafted from scraps of ebony, ivory, rosewood, and mother-of-pearl, Studley continually tinkered with his chest throughout his career. Every tool in his arsenal is accounted for here, including some custom creations, with intricate holders for each making everything quick to hand.

Of course being cut from an entirely different cloth than most of us, Studley continued working well into his 80s before retiring from the Poole Piano Company. Before his death in 1925 Studley gave his chest to a friend, who in turn gave it to his grandson. The grandson, Peter Hardwick, recognized the exquisite example of craftsmanship for what it was and loaned the chest to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The chest, after a few changes of ownership, now resides with a private collector somewhere out there. So this is to you Henry Studley: If you can craft this damn fine tool-box, then surely we can outline our peg boards with a marker and hang our tools where they belong.

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