The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton – 2nd edition


Many of us missed out on the 1994 first edition of “The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton”, only to see used copies go for $125 or more.   The Tools and Trades History Society has published an expanded 2nd edition that you can purchase at Tools for Working Wood (  The Seaton Chest represents a cabinetmaker’s set of 200 tools from the 18th century.    This is an excellent resource for those us who collect tools and have been working on assembling our own set.  The 2nd edition includes expanded research from the folks at Colonial Williamsburg as well as dimensional details of many of the tools. Those of us who attended the 2008 woodworking symposium at Colonial Williamsburg were able to get drawings of the chest.  This edition includes that same material allowing you build a replica chest and many of the tools included.    The saws from the original chest are available as reproductions from Wenzloff & Sons (  In the photo above is a picture of one of available dovetail saws.   Anyone working on building a complete set of 18th century tools for woodworking would appreciate and should own this book.


18th Century Philadelphia Thomas Affleck Back Stool Chair

Currently in the shop we are building four 18th century Philadelphia back stool chairs that have been attributed to Thomas Affleck and made for John Penn.  Below is a picture of one original chair upolstered in red leather as part of a collection currently at Cliveden.


Below is a picture of one our chairs under construction without the upolstery.  This chair was made three years ago and has been waiting in the shop for the remaining three to be made. The primary wood is mahogany, and the secondary wood is white oak.


The construction methods are full mortise and tenon with peg fastening construction. The side rail tenons go through the back chair stiles.  One aspect of these chairs is the molding profile on the front legs.  The profile on both the front and outside faces were made with two passes from each side edge from a custom plane made by Tod Herrli.  A tracing of the profile will be posted soon.  This same profile could be used on a leg of a table, foot stool or tapered sofa leg.


After using the molding plane, the profile is finished by either making a matching profile scraper or as I did, use a carving chisel, files, general scraper and sandpaper to achieve the final result. Below is a picture of the remaining legs after this process. 


Before the front legs were molded, they first had the mortises marked out with a knife and then chiseled out.  I used a mortise chisel by Ray Iles to accomplish this…a wonderful tool and highly recommended.  Below is a picture of one of the legs, the Ray Iles chisel and an early hand wrought chisel in our collection.   



The mortises in the front legs are 7/8″ deep, 3/8″ wide and 1-1/4″ long.  When marking out the mortises in the front legs, its important to make sure the rail will be about 1/8″ behind the molding profile.  This is because after assembly the profile will be planed flush with the rail where the upolstery is applied. This is shown below before assembly and after in the chair above.


Both the front and rear legs have a chamfer applied on the inside edge.  In this case we marked out the dimension with a pencil about 1/2″ off each of the inside edges and used a rasp to make the profile.  The final surface of the profile can be finished with a scraper or the back edge of a sharp 2″ chisel, followed by burnishing the surface with shavings left over from planing. The pictures below show this process and the final result on the front leg. 





The supporting cross members in the seat frame are dovetailed into the seat frame, glued in place and fastened with a period wrought nail.  The back frame is fastened with handmade period screws.  The remaining three chairs are being made with poplar as the secondary wood. Over the next several weeks pictures of the process for making these chairs will be shown. 



Gene Landon

  Gene Landon next to one of the many great corner cupboards he built.

I first learned of Gene Landon reading Fine Woodworking and the article about him in the May 1996 issue of Traditional Home Magazine.  In 1998, I met Gene for the first time in a Pennsylvania German Kas class he was teaching at Olde Mill.  I continued to take classes with Gene over a 12 year period.  Gene was truely a master cabinetmaker, a mentor and great person who enjoyed sharing and teaching others.  About a dozen students studied consistently with Gene for 10 years or more.  Many of us former students are starting to do what Gene would want, to share and teach others as he did. He was a great teacher who always encouraged and inspired others.   From his period reproduction home, time teaching others, the furniture he made and sold, and the countless restorations, it is amazing all that Gene was able to accomplish in his lifetime.  Since his passing last June, Tom Meiller has written a book entitled “Inspiration – Gene Landon and Seven Hearths” as a tribute to the man so many of us were fortunate to know and study with.


This is a great book Tom has assembled.  This book is written as a furniture tour of Gene’s home and shop and provides a glimpse of his life, passion and talent.  Anyone interested in period furniture, and architecture should have this book in their library.  The book is available at