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This clever and simple piece is great for storing tools, toys or a kimono

While picking though a table of vintage Japanese tools for sale I spotted this sliding-lid box under the vendor’s table; it was blackened by age, soot and rust. Despite its scars, however, the box was still graceful and functional.

The owner, a Japanese carpenter, wouldn’t part with it. But he let me measure and photograph the piece both inside and out so I could make a respectable version for myself.

The carpenter said it was a toolbox, and it would indeed fit a small kit of tools. But other experts in Japanese furniture said it was more likely a generic storage box that could be used to hold anything – wooden Tupperware, if you will.

The original was made using Douglas fir. For this article I made versions in both vertical-grain fir and Port Orford cedar, another wood preferred by Japanese joiners. The biggest challenge of the project was finding the dome-head nails.


 

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