The fly tying chest

Designed by  Patrick F. Bigand - 1999


When I lived in Portland, Oregon from 1997 to 2002, I got hooked into fly fishing, and soon found I wanted to tie my own flies. The first visible result was a mess of hairs, feathers and tools in the living room, or in the kitchen. Since I love woodworking, I used my tools and skills to help with my new hobby. The all American machinist toolchest appeared to be the ideal solution, but I felt a couple of improvements were needed in order to trun it into an actaul fly tying staion, rather than just a storage tool. What follows is the result. I have now used it for over ten years, and I am very happy with the design. The only imporvement I can think of is adding a built in light in the lid, though mostly anyway I tie next to a large window, during the spring and summer..

.close_frt2_150.jpg (2964 bytes)           half open 150.jpg (7449 bytes)           full install 150.jpg (10054 bytes)

I built a first prototype from plywood, then for the final one I used mahogany and birch plywood, with cedar for the drawers to ward off the moths. The chest is about 23" long by 12" deep and 16" high. The hinged face plate has a socket for the vice.

My main improvement to the toolchest design is the two verticla drawers for the tools and thread bobbins. This are fitted with two spring activated pins that fit into two tracks inlaid into the top and bottm of their compartments, so that they can be pulled out and spread open to offer easy access and visibility.

drwrs_open_150.jpg (4994 bytes)              vdrawer detail 100.jpg (7161 bytes) Detail of the vertical drawers and sliding system 

As per the original toolchest design, the top when closed pushes down two pins that keep the face plate in place. All hardware except from the vertical drawers guiding systems is available from woordworking stores, I bought mine at Rockler's. The spring activated sliding system design is not difficult to make.

lid_closeup_150.jpg (4419 bytes)

Here's the drawing, at a 1/5 scale but I don't know how it will print on your end. Anyway the dimensions are on it, through metric, pardon my French. Good luck building it, let me have a couple of pics if you do, and do share any idea for improvement!

Pictures and text patrick bigand 2007