Securing the Tools of the Trade

While I was wiling away the dregs of an evening watching a late night repeat of the Antiques Roadshow my attention was suddenly caught by a large elongate wooden chest being appraised by one of the experts. It turned out to be an early 19th Century sailor’s sea chest.

The expert explained in some detail the waterproof pitch pine construction which was virtually rot proof and made the chest very heavy to prevent it sliding around below decks in a swell. He explained the braided rope handles at either end covered in tar pitch apparently recycled from old mast rigging and the reinforced cast metal strapping and heavy lock to deter theft of the few possessions and tools of the trade the sailor had.

Would you believe it but I have one that looked very similar also in pitch pine complete with braided rope handles that was gifted to me by a retired shipwright.  Too much of a coincidence but I suspect mine is probably not as old but nevertheless used to this day to lock away my more expensive tools.

Of course these day’s hens teeth are easier to find than 18″ planks of pitch pine and the valuation on the box was in the high hundreds so out of reach for many. If you are looking for a land based equivalent for secure tool storage modern technology and design comes to the rescue and you can now buy tool strong boxes at a fraction of the cost of the old sea chest. For tradesmen who routinely take expensive kit to site on open trucks they can secure their equipment with van strong boxes that feature prise resistant lids and bolt down holes to secure the box to the truck. The rope handles have been replaced with solid welded steel but otherwise like the sea chest they are eminently portable

The sailor was probably not that concerned about someone stealing his sea chest – just the contents. After all where would you conceal it on board a ship assuming one man could lift it in the first instance? Mere landlubbers need to take security to a different level.