Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Old Toolbox

I've rediscovered my old toolbox. I made this tote in an Industrial Arts class my freshman year of high school, which I believe makes this the oldest woodworking project of mine that still exists. I have no memory of actually using it.

Somehow this thing followed me up to Alaska (I don't even remember packing it), spent some time in my brother's shed, and more recently moved into a funky corner of my garage (on the fringe of my shop space), where it promptly got buried under layers of junk.

A few weeks ago, my brother Josh was out in my neck of the woods harvesting spruce poles for a sod house he will be building on his remote property. I was heading out to help, but needed some good way of taking a small kit of tools along (axe, hatchet etc.) What I needed was a large tool tote...

Hey! What about that one buried over there? I quickly dug it out (finding the hardware for the never completed treadle lathe and a perfectly usable brace in the process - how many of these do I have?)and cleaned it off.

It is very simply constructed - nailed butt joints - but apparently I was very proud of it, because it has my name handwritten in pencil all over it. It was fun to see that - back when I went by "Danny".

I loaded it up and off we went. Here it is in the field:

It easily held my axe, hatchet, disassembled bowsaw, file, sharpening stone, drawknife, hammer and punch (for bowsaw pins), gloves and some snacks.

You could tell it was happy finally getting to do yeoman's work after almost 30 years of sitting around!

*** The Candle Till is finished, but the post isn't. That should be coming up next...


  1. Good post Dan, it took me back a ways. The tote I made back in 7th grade is in my shed with masonry tools in it. I rarely use my masonry tools, so it sits there collecting dust, but I can't bring myself to part with it.

  2. It's a great toolbox. Why is it that making tools or toolboxes is so rewarding. It carries a different feeling for me, something a little more basic or primal I guess?
    It just feels good to make something so incredibly useful. You get to smile every time you use it.

  3. Dan good job. How good does it feel to leave the fancy shop tools alone and get out into nature with some solid handtools.

  4. Steve - Thanks! The history that comes with tools and tool boxes is always fascinating, but it is even better if it is your history too.

    I've been trying to remember more of this box's story. Several years after making it, I began to work summers with my brother who is a carpenter. Everyone was using 5 gallon plastic "pickle" buckets for tool totes, and not wanting to stand out (anymore than "the kid" already does) I switched to one as well. I'm glad I had the sense to not get rid of the tote though.

    Jim - Thank you, and I know what you mean. For me, it is a bit like building a home for the tools - almost a mini, traveling shop. The process of what to include, who is coming along for each adventure is just fun. And of course, I always take more than I will really need, but that's besides the point :)

    Daniel - Thanks. Going to the source is always great! It's good to remember where the wood comes from. I do use the hatchet and drawknife frequently in the shop, although it's not as much fun as being outside. I don't miss the mosquitoes though...


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