Virtuoso: H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet

Bring Your Passion

Published: 5/27/20
By: William Watters

This book and documentary is an investigation and a historical dive into the tool cabinet, tools, workbench, and maker, Henry O. Studley (1838-1925).
Woodworkers know the tool cabinet well. Photos of the tool cabinet adorn the wall of any woodworking shop and perhaps is the inspiration for that shop to exist.

H.O. Studley was the head of the action department for Poole Piano Company. The action of a piano is the seemingly nonexistent mechanism between the key and the string. It is the action that produces a note heard after striking a key. The mastery involved in making this happen is similar to the mechanics and precision of a clock, with the difference being you don’t pound on a clock. The sheer millisecond this action takes and the coordination between each key creating a unified whole takes a skilled, dedicated, and passionate person.

Virtuoso: One who excels in the technique of an art (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
“The Studley tool cabinet is a woodworking fractal; as you zoom in on one detail, you not only see that detail in greater resolution, you discover a universe of new details.”
-Narayan Nayar (photographer)

Clearly, H.O. Studley had the ability to make this cabinet any way he wanted. It could have been a simple box with rudimentary ways of holding tools. He chose to make it to the very best of his ability. Each little clasp detailed in ebony and inlaid with mother-of-pearl flawlessly. Why put that much time into a 1/4” clasp? I believe that it is what he knew. In everything he made, he did to the best of his ability with all his passion. Bring your passion and bring your talent into every aspect of your life.
Cabinet Specs:
• Height 39”
• Width 19-1/2” (closed), 39” (open)
• Depth 9-15/16” (closed); 4-11/16” (left open); 5-1/4” (right open)
• 3/4” French cleat on the rear of the left unit

• Mahogany
• Ebony
• 136 ivory inlays
• 217 mother-of-pearl inlays


Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley


Click here to purchase the video.


– Why not put your all into everything?
– Tools work for you, can modifying them make them work better for you?
– Do you have something that you’ve used for most of your life?