This is a job I should’ve done about six-months ago… We’ve just been through the coldest winter in Britain for thirty-odd years and, as a consequence, I’ve had to throw away a couple of bottles of PVA (at least, they were less than half-full). Over the years, I’ve come to accumulate a growing supply of woodworking adhesives and it’s enough of a chore having to cart my timber in and out of the house to protect it from the cold and damp – what I’ve been in need of, then, is a simple means of storage and single-handed transportation…
Since I got in to woodwork as a hobby five-years ago, I’ve been dreaming of building a wooden toolbox that would allow me to carry a basic arsenal of hand tools to and from a job. Inspired by an article in Danny Proulx’s Toolboxes and Workbenches book, this isn’t quite that… I view this as a minor mock-up to one-day building my “ultimate” toolbox. Another book I’d highly recommend for inspiration on the subject of toolbox design is The Toolbox Book by Jim Tolpin.
“My first toolbox” then, is knocked together from scraps of pine, a length of beech for the handle and a sheet of 6mm ply for the base. It is designed to carry glue bottles but, with the weather improving of late, I should be able to leave them in the workshop overnight and I will no doubt get to see how this handles my planes and chisels, in the mean time.
Last year, I made several pieces in pine (Scandinavian redwood), which has left me with a good amount of offcuts [though, admittedly, my stock of softwood is insignificant compared to the piles of 1in oak and 2in beech I have leant up against one wall!!]. Still, I didn’t quite have enough to give me the 130mm wide sides I desired so, I had to edge-joint some ex. 3x1in (75x25mm). Again, I used Titebond II. With the weather warming up, I was tempted to take the clamps off after half and hour (as they suggest) but, I was still concerned that the next stage of thicknessing would “stress” the joints… So, I left it for about four hours while I got on with other things.
While the glue was going off, I progressed on with the ends, which were suitably sized from a scrap length of 145x20mm I had lying around. I reckon this board has been in my workshop for at least four-years yet, it was almost perfectly flat without any signs of cupping or distortion! There’s a mortise near the top that’ll receive the handle. I drilled out most of the waste from both sides and cleaned up all round with a chisel.
Both ends were grooved on the router table using a ¼in slot cutter for a 6mm plywood base. Actually, the base measures closer to 5.5mm… Normally, I would’ve sized this groove more precisely using a narrow cutter with several passes but, this toolbox is to be used and abused! Note to all – slot cutters leave a poor finish cutting across the grain in softwood!
For the sake of ergonomics, I tapered the top half and rounded the corners off for comfort.
[Skipping ahead several hours to the point of assembly…]
You can see below how the curved handle is tenonned through the ends. Each tenon is then secured in place with a wedge (like a “tusk tenon” joint), which also pulls the shoulders up nice and tight [no cramps required]. I’d been itching to try a joint like this for ages and, I’m pretty pleased with the result (glue isn’t necessary, really).
Though, I could’ve taken more care rounding-over the arrises on the router table. As you can see in the following photo, I took the router cutter a bit too far and this has left me with a gaping holes in each corner of the mortises! 😳 It would’ve been better to have deliberately stopped the moulding a set distance away from the joints and make a feature of this.
Not even glue would fill these gaps!!
To keep things quick and simple, I’ve screwed the sides directly to the ends and later plugged the counter-bored holes with wooden plugs. Two blatant reminders for future projects, here – stopped grooves should be used where the end-grain will be visible an I must again take more care with my placement of biscuits (I did the same thing on a dining table, just before Christmas! :oops:). I’ll leave this here, clear and visible, so that hopefully, I’ll learn not to do it again! Not that it matters much on this job, of course.
In the end, I now have a sturdy and reasonably attractive tote-style toolbox for keeping my glues and water-based finishes away from the cold… Next winter!! 😀 I’ve since given it a thin coat of varnish and will apply a second, thicker coating tomorrow. Again, the finish isn’t really important here; I just want to try and ensure that any drips and spills won’t leave my “collection” of adhesives fixed in place! Yes, I’m the type of person who can make a lot of mess with a little glue – just ask my GCSE teacher at school! 😉
...Does this make me a "Collector"?!?
Those of you with a keen eye will have noticed that I’d since found a couple of other glues lurking in my workshop since the very first photograph was taken. Earlier today, another addition arrived as part of my latest order from Rutlands – more on that in my next blog post! It’s the Extend version of Titebond II, with a longer open time for complicated assemblies – I reckon that’ll prove to be an essential purchase when it comes to assembling my college chair in several weeks…!
[Yes, as someone who was once sceptical about their range, I really am taking a liking to Titebond‘s wood adhesives!! :-D]
Thanks for reading.