When one of my most admired associates decided it was time to retire from teaching English, I wanted to make something for her that she could use, not something that would add clutter to the home in woods where she and her husband would spend their years of solitude. I asked her husband what she might like, and he showed me small chest of drawers she had been eying in an Ikea magazine for stowing her sewing gear.
Instead of seeing her buy a piece of furniture that would one day end up as so much kindling, I made her an heirloom: a piece of handmade furniture she could admire and enjoy.
Since the cabinet was to hold specific tools and occupy a specific space, I consulted often with my retiring friend about her preferences regarding the height and width of the cabinet, the number and size of drawers, and the style and type of wood she preferred. She shed tears when picking it up from my shop, making all of the effort worthwhile.
Details: case made of quarter-sawn red oak; quarter-sawn ash drawers; suede drawer liners to keep the tools from sliding around; pewter-inlaid headboard