Made at 173: Japanese Toolbox

A New Toolbox from Scrapwood

For me, the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic really started on March 6, 2020 when I was deployed to New Rochelle down in Westchester County.  Before that however, I had undertaken a scrapwood project to build a Japanese-style toolbox with a sliding lid.  


It all started with this little instructional that I ran across while looking for a small end-of-winter workshop project:




I was really looking for something with which I could repurpose this old book case, which has been around since the mid-'90s:


I dismantled it, and it left just this little stack of boards...


The old book case was sufficient for most of the toolbox, but I had to use another scrap board for the bottom and another for the lid.  The problem was the board for the bottom had pretty significant cupping, so I used a technique for planing a board flat that I learned from Paul Sellers videos, you can see the pencil marks below... 


Then it was just a matter of about 6 or 7 minutes of planing.


This was a fun little project for a couple reasons: 1- after a good start, because of my deployments for the pandemic, I ended up working on this for several weeks, 10 minutes here, half hour there... 2 - because I endeavored to make this out of scraps, several species of wood was used, and I had to get a little creative a couple times.  In this next picture, you can see the filler strips I put in the dadoes from when some of the boards were part of the book case.


And of course, not all the dadoes were the same size, so there was some measuring for sure!


I mean, some of the fill-strips were pretty thin.  As a matter-of-fact, I used a piece of a paint stir stick to fill one of them...


The old book case had been stained cherry many years ago and, as luck would have it, just 3 or 4 months ago I put a couple layers of amber shellac on it, thinking it might be put back into use somewhere here at 173.  So, now I had to sand it all off...


Then it was a matter of assembling.  In the next picture I had just used some contact cement to keep the sides in place while I measure for the end boards.


I used a number of clamps to aid in assembly...


Trying to get all the parts square one to another...


Here's a fun little picture which, at a glance, doesn't make any sense.  One of the sides had a bow in it, so I used this board setup to lever the middle of the board so it was straight and I could fasten it to the bottom.


The next step was to put a simple tray in.  In the workshop I have several thin strips of wood that I saved from trimming boards over the years, and two of them were perfect for the slides.  A few weeks ago a neighbor was throwing away an old solid wood dresser.  It was in pretty rough shape, but the wood was excellent, so I grabbed it an pulled it apart.  I sawed four pieces from one of the drawer sides to make the sliding tray for this toolbox.  Oak nonetheless!


Oh, here's a shot where you can see the slide intersecting with one of the filled dadoes:


And a simple plywood bottom was added...


Of course, just like I did with the hand plane rack, I lined the tray with some Gerstner green felt left over from when I refurbished the Gerstner tool chest my father had given me.


Sorry, I jumped ahead of myself!  So, finally assembly was under way!  Because the screws were so close to the ends of the boards, I used an awl to pre-drill.  


Then I manually drove the screws in for better control - I really didn't want to split these boards!


Ta-daaaah!  A toolbox!


Here you get a sense of how the lid slides in to "lock" down...


Finally, it was time for the finish.  I didn't want to paint this, and I started to stress over what stain to use, when it dawned on me that with so many wood species going on here, there was no way I was going to match a stain throughout.  So I just took some Minwax Gunstock stain and applied it.  A nice little shot with the sliding tray...


And the final product...


I must say, I like the way it turned out.  I've seen where some guys are making beautiful Japanese toolboxes, some with exotic woods.  I think that'd be fun to do one day, but from the start this was going to be a functional toolbox made from scrap wood.  I met the goal LOL!


Be safe my friends!
George
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