Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Wooden Toolbox, Part 2: The main box

As a reminder, this is what I'm working on.

The plan

It's a relief having the design part behind me.  I'm not much of a designer and I'd rather be building stuff.  Like all of my projects, it started with getting stock to size.  I estimate that about 70% of my project time is spent in stock prep.  This is all by hand - but I'm starting to see the day coming when I'll have to rely on a bandsaw to help me.

Resawing a board that will become the front panel

Once the bottom and ends were dimensioned, I started dovetailing.  Tails are on the ends and pins on the bottom to resist coming apart if there is too much weight in the drawer.

Laying out the tails on the end boards

Sawing out the waste

After cleaning up with a freshly sharpened chisel

Marking the pins with pencil before fitting the pieces together

After a test fit, I can tell this pin is too tight by the smeared pencil marks

First corner fitted, after some judicial paring of pins

Joint cleaned up (not yet glued)

Here's the setup I used to clean up the tails and pins.
I rarely use the slot in my benchtop, but it came in handy here.

Next on the list was to fit the horizontal divider.  I took the shoulder lines from the bottom piece, as their shoulders need to be perfectly aligned.

The joint marked out

It might not be evident from the picture, but the sides have five 1/2" x 1/2" mortises marked.  The divider has the matching tenons marked.  Since my marking gauges won't reach as far as I need for this application, I had to get out my panel gauge for the markings further from the reference edge.

After boring and paring the mortises and sawing and chiseling the tenons
a first test fit shows a nice result.

I had left the tenons 1/16" long to be flushed with the surface later, but I thought I'd leave them proud on the finished toolbox.  Not sure it'll go well with the flushed-up dovetails just below, but if I don't like it, I can always flush them up later.

And here's the box (so far) dry assembled.

Bottom and divider assembled with ends

Next time I'll write about fitting the front and back panels, doing some shaping and gluing up the box.


  1. That joinery is going to make for a very sturdy box, and it looks great, too.

    1. Thanks Jeff. Yeah, it's probably overbuilt a bit, but it's solid as a rock. The project is coming along nicely - just have the drawer to do now.