My hand plane till is finally done! It looks great hanging on the wall, and fulfills my requirement to hold my full inventory of planes while still providing some space for future acquisitions. The basic look of the piece is inspired by a till that I saw in an old issue of Fine Woodworking magazine, but I made significant changes to the joinery and tool holding details.
The cabinet itself is a fairly simple design: it’s a dovetailed cherry box with a single horizontal divider dadoed into the case sides. The top section has a piece of cherry plywood to hold bench planes, while the small bottom section is left open as a general storage shelf. The cherry plywood is housed in dados on all four sides that recline it at a slight angle. Strips of solid cherry on the plywood surface act as dividers. I attached the dividers with only screws, just in case I ever want to reconfigure the cabinet. Realistically, I’ll probably never do this, but it makes me feel better knowing that I have that option.
One of my most important criteria for this hand plane till was compactness. I’ve seen similar wall-hung tills that store hand planes on a reclined surface using gravity alone to hold them in place. That’s a convenient method because it’s easy for the user to remove and replace the planes. A quick calculation using the Pythagorean Theorem, however, will show you their biggest drawback: in order to use gravity as the primary means of holding the tools in place, the surface needs to be reclined at a significant angle, making the whole cabinet stick too far out from the wall. My cabinet is only five inches deep, and I was able to achieve that by reclining the storage surface a measly five degrees.
Since my planes are resting at such a steep angle in this till, I wanted some additional insurance to hold everything in place. I decided on a two-prong approach: I keep the heel of each plane from sliding off the divider it rests upon with a wooden clip, and I hold the toe of the plane tight to the surface with an embedded rare Earth magnet. My block plane is small enough that the wooden clip isn’t needed. Magnets aren’t effective on bronze, so I used a wooden spinner at the toe of my smoothing plane, instead.
So far, so good. My tool holding strategy makes it easy to access the planes, but holds them securely when they’re in the cabinet. I wish I had built this till years ago; it makes working in the shop just a little bit more enjoyable!