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  • Fred

Not happy with toolboxes at the store? Make your own!

I have a lot of tools. It's kind of my thing and I want to be able to take care of them so that they don't get damaged. I also want to be able to find them and be able to take them with me on a job.

Any, I mean ANY, toolbox that you may see in a store or on the interwebs is a general, one size fits many type of box. Maybe there are a few adjustable dividers to "customize" it, but if you know exactly what you want and you're willing to do some work with tools (that's the point, right?), you can make your own truly custom toolbox.

First, you need some wood. As usual, I swung by my handy dandy hardwood dealer, CP Johnson Lumber, and picked up some beautiful maple. Also, as usual, I found just what I needed in his bargain bin of "warped and ugly and otherwise crazy" lumber. Seriously, my 12-inch jointer and 13-inch planer allow me to work with ALL KINDS of wood and will save me HUGE funds in the long haul. I can usually get a nice board for around $8 that would cost me $30 from the non-crazy wood stacks.

So, I've got some wood, I brought it home and straightened it out. Then I chose the size of the box and cut my lumber to the proper dimensions. next is the fun part.

I've done some dovetail joints in the past and they're decent, but I know that I need to work on my technique. For this project, I made a small dovetail saw guide to aid in consistency. It really worked well, but I may upgrade to an actual dovetail guide in the future. On the topic of dovetail joints, there are several ways to cut them. Lots of people use a router and a dovetail jig which is pretty expensive, but gives good results. Some people think the router method is to sanitary and makes your work look like it came from a factory. I personally haven't tried this method.

I use saws and chisels to make dovetail joints. Though I have a dovetail saw (a nice one and I really love it), most of this job was done using an inexpensive Japanese saw. It's the one on the bottom in the picture below.

The tools I have in the kit now are some of the basic woodworking tools I may need on a job away from home. From left to right:

Nail sets

Utility Knife

Bevel Gauge

No 4 Plane

Block Plane

Combination Square

Tape Measure

Digital Laser Measurer

Flush Cut Saw

Dovetail Saw

Japanese Rip/Crosscut Combination Saw

Four bench Chisels

Two ball-pean hammers (small and large)

Wooden and Rubber Mallet

There's still a bit of space in the box, so I'm sure I'll add more stuff.

To make the dividers in the box, I just laid the tools out, cut the pieces and glued them in place. The larger parts are also nailed in place.

The bottom of the box is 1/4 inch thick solid maple slats that are glued and nailed in place. I left small gaps between the pieces to allow for expansion.

The carry handles that are more visible in the top photo, were made on the drill press. I drilled two holes on each piece (before assembly) and joined the holes using the jigsaw. I then hand carved the edges to make the handles comfortable.

I'm quite happy with how this turned out. If you have some tools that you want to be able to tote around and you live near me, swing by and we'll design something.

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