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The Woodwright's Workbook: Further Exploration in Traditional Woodcraft By Roy Underhill
The Little Tool Box
The traditional carpenter's tool carrier is a basket carried over the shoulder by means of a stick thrust through its handles. I do not know when the open wooden tool box came into general use. It appears in several early nineteenth-century photographs, but only rarely in line drawings. Perhaps it is one of those things that is there, but the artist wishes was not.
I have put many a mile on my tool box. It is not old, but one that I made after an example from Dupiin County, North Carolina. I have used it on jobs around the country and have had to rebuild it only once. That was when one of my fellow carpenters fell off of the roof of a privy and landed right on top of it. Fortunately, it was almost empty of tools; so the tool box was hurt more than he was.
I have an old manual training book from 1916 entitled Problems in Farm Woodwork. A tool box (they call it a tool carrier) like mine is one of the first projects in the book. It is made low so that "it will easily slide under the seat of a buggy." The angled sides are connected with what the book called "hopper joints," after the agricultural fashion.
Weight is an important consideration on an item like this. The sides and bottom are half-inch pine; the center handle is of inch-thick stock. Only one of the sides should flare out if you do a lot of walking. The other face, which is against your leg, is better kept square. If you don't carry your toolbox for long distances, though, flare at will.
Make your tool box long enough for your handsaws to fit in it, about 32 inches. The bottom of the box is about 8 inches wide and the sides are 6 inches tall. The angle of the splay on my box is 3 inches in 5; that is, I set the adjustable bevel so that when its body is held flat against one side of a square, the blade of the bevel crosses the 3-inch mark on one arm and the 5-inch mark on the other. Saw the ends of the boards to this angle and then plane their bottom edges to the same angle. Glue and nail the sides together and then inset the bottom, planing its edges to the appropriate angles for a tight fit. This is the sort of bevel work used so often in boat building.
Fit the center board for the handle last. My handleFit the center board for the handle last. My handle does not reach to the bottom, which is not the normal case. I wanted to save weight and add room, but it really makes things more of a jumble. The handle hole is simply two auger holes with the wood in between chiseled out. Making this handle hole about three times longer than the width of your hand will prove a great timesaver. When the tools are out of balance, you only need to shift your hand position to find harmony with the load you bear.
"The Woodwright's Workbook: Further Exploration in Traditional Woodcraft" By Roy Underhill
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press