Toolbox work in progress. Finally

Martin Pansch
Posts: 307
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Toolbox work in progress. Finally

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:00 pm

It has been a little embarrassing for a while now that I still carry my tools to classes and demos in 5 gallon buckets. Not that the bucket o' tools isn't a blacksmithing world standard but because I helped Tom Sanders teach the toolbox hardware class once, I have helped make 3 tool boxes for the auction at the fall conference, and have actually had a fully assembled toolbox carcass that Al Olson gave me after our last time advertising the toolbox hardware class didn't conduct several years ago. While I am still having a decision making issue on the design theme for the hardware (went with Morovian last time, thinking more gothic this time but still not happy with my sketches) I decided I could at least do some of the wood customization to the inside of the box.

I want to have two layers of storage in the roughly 3" deep lid. My most commonly used files I want to have on wings that fold out from the lid and rest on the lip of the box for easy access and protection of the files. Originally I was thinking the files horizontal on both sides with handles alternating. After some test layouts though I discovered my tool box was not long enough to do that with standard sized files. I went with one horizontal wing and one vertical for a couple shorter files and a file card. I couldn't fit ALL the files in the wings that I normally carry in my file roll. I had to decide what I really needed. My hot rasp was much too long but I have other plans for that.
File test layout in lid.jpg
File test layout in lid.jpg (207.16 KiB) Viewed 1610 times
After figuring out how I wanted them it was time to play with a dado blade on the table saw cutting out slots in a wide pine board. Sort of a pain in the tuchus as I have this bad habit of thinking I am done with the dado stack, taking it off, and then realizing I need it again. Repeat 4 times.
Dados cut.jpg
Dados cut.jpg (270.97 KiB) Viewed 1610 times
After that a little fun with glue, a planer, joiner and router and I had the wings pretty much ready to go for now. Still deciding how exactly I want to mount them and how to lock the wings in place when the box is going to be closed up for traveling. I am leaning towards making some thin hinges for the edges. Could probably find something at Rockers but it would seem a cop out when I was going to make all the external hardware. This is how they look mostly finished and sitting in place over the other layer of tools.
File wings in situ.jpg
File wings in situ.jpg (235.1 KiB) Viewed 1610 times
Next I turned my attention to the tools I want in the lid. This was like a messed up game of Tetris compounded by trying to decide what is important enough to warrant an easy access spot in the lid. Good mental exercise though, I recommend considering what tools you 1) don't want rattling around in the general space and 2) use enough that you consider a "don't leave shop without it" tool. After a number of iterations this is what I came up:
tools in the lid.jpg
tools in the lid.jpg (208.01 KiB) Viewed 1610 times
I still have to figure out how I want all these tools held in place. Having the file wings helps me out here because if I play the dimensions right those wings should be able to hold most of the lid tools in place when they are folded and locked. Probably a lot of goofing around time to get it right though.

Needing to chew on that a little more I turned my attention to the main body of the box. I thought about making a pull out tray for the top of it but didn't want to take up too much of the remaining 7" depth of the box. Also, the more "specialized" storage areas you make in something like this the more you limit what all you can put in there. Instead I satisfied myself with running a 3/8" thick x 4 3/4" high board the length of the bottom sectioning off a 3" wide section on towards the front. I divided that into two sections, one a hair longer than 10". The other is around 11 1/2". In the shorter section my big chisels (those longer than 7") and other struck tools lay horizontal. In the longer section I plan to make interchangeable wood block tool holding "modules" that can be swapped out depending on what kind of class I am going to. In the photo below I have a block with my needle files and another with a few short struck tools that I hold in my tool tongs.
toolbox partitioned.jpg
toolbox partitioned.jpg (194.39 KiB) Viewed 1610 times
In the remaining largest section of the tool box I can load in several hammers, a decent selection of tongs, wire brush, twisting wrench etc. I am thinking I might put a little rack on the wall of this chamber to hang my hot rasp up on. Not that I use it all that frequently but the thought of it rubbing elbows with those other tools in there just seems, I dunno, wrong.

Now I have a habit (though not as bad as Stephen's) of wanting to bring ALL THE TOOLS with me when I go somewhere. When we designed this box for the first toolbox class the size was decided on to fight that urge in me and others. I really didn't want it to end up being a two man lift if it was filled up. It is long enough for most normal sized tongs and not so long that a smith with normal sized arms can't get a grip on the handles on each side.

Well, that is it for now. I'll try to take process photos as I go though shop time is pretty scarce for me lately so it might be a while. Meanwhile I would love it other people posted any thoughts, suggestions of mechanisms for holding the tools in place, hardware, or photos of their own or other interesting toolboxes (assuming they have photo posting rights for boxes that aren't theirs).

Take care.

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