After posting this image of a tool box on Facebook, I soon had many comments such as, “Made one of these 30-odd years ago at college during my apprenticeship,” and “Made one of those in 1975 before I went to uni.” Freddy Roman had also picked one up. It’s not a common design within the books I have. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but I’d speculate that perhaps it’s so humble as to be overlooked in favour of chests, stand-alone units and wall-hanging cabinets. In addition, it typically uses plywood (a relatively modern industrial product) fixed over a wooden frame to keep things strong and light. A fellow apprentice made one when I was at college, too. I never got around to making one; I used an open plywood tote for many a year before “upgrading” to my current Stanley tool box.
I did find an example in H.F. Marfleet’s “Pictorial Guide To Woodworking Tools.” Please don’t feel you need to hurry to get a copy, but if you find one cheap, it’s good fun. It’s a book that is never afraid to tell you are WRONG in capital letters. It’s almost as if it’s written by a long-suffering woodshop teacher who had seen enough untidy benches and poorly maintained tools to last a lifetime!
I’m going to be making the tool box from Beech – mainly because there are a few boards of it hanging around our shop; also, it’s a nice, easy timber to work. That also raises another point: Many people mentioned (on Facebook) how within North America, beech is deemed unstable – but the European stuff we use seems pretty reliable. If you have any thoughts on that, I’d be interested to know. (perhaps it’s how the boards are milled and kilned, or perhaps it’s a variation of species?)
What this tool box is not is a “perfect solution” – but let’s face it: there never a perfect solutions to anything in life. However, it does offer a degree of portability for some essential tools, or a neat way to store a more pared back hand tool kit, for when more of the work is done with power tools. The construction methods are simple too – and they can be really simple if you stick with the tried-and-tested plywood, but if you want to make it as a bit more of a skill builder, use solid wood and add in a bit more joinery.
I hope to have a video up next time; more than likely it’ll be over two or three installments. I’m not going to do a heavily detailed build and I warn you there will be heavy use of FFWD where I deem it appropriate – but I will endeavour to share some sizes and reasons for choices within the video, too. I’m also trying to source a better mic so I can try to improve the video experience a touch in the short term before I can get a halfway decent camera. Anyway, if you’ve used or made a tool box like this feel free to leave a comment below.