Caddy for tools, gardening, drawing, painting... #1: Boards, shape and fingers

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Blog entry by mafe posted 01-06-2020 01:41 AM 1407 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Caddy for tools, gardening, drawing, painting…
boards, shape and fingers / taps

I wanted to give my girlfriend something made with my hands for Christmas, as one of the gifts and since she is a Jacqueline of many trades, I decided a caddy / tote to bring her stuff, would be a thing that can bring joy in many situations. If she will use it for gardening, drawing stuff, painting gear, tools, garden tools, flowers or even perhaps at her job as a doctor, that must be up to her, for now I just need to get it done, before too long.

This was the last picture I took today with my cell phone, before leaving the workshop, the caddy in it’s current step on the way.

But lets start from the beginning.
As most of my projects we start with some reclaimed wood, pine, from some old bed slats.
Bed slats are usually quite good and strong wood, with few knots.

Here they have had a tour through a lunch box planner, one side jointed and now glued and clamped.

After gluing, Yeli (my gf) helped with deciding the shape and we went for the same as my good old tool tote.
Here sawing to shape on the band saw.

Sanding the sides.

The sides were held together with double sided tape, to save some time.

Finally at the workbench, had enough of power tools.
I’ll use my little benchtop bench for a good work position and please notice the new LED light over the bench, this old chap is a happy monkey as I said.

Well, we need a pipe of tobacco and a coffee also.

Ok and a small smoked whiskey, it was a Christmas present from my mother, so I guess I have her blessing…

But it’s single malt Scotch, so one need no blessing!

Not that a tool caddy need to be perfect, but I was a wee unhappy with the lines my planer left, I guess I need to buy some new knifes soon.

Easy job with one of my favourite tools, the card scraper.

Look how the surface of the wood stands out, amazing what a little scraping can do.

Time to match up and mark the pieces.
Find out witch one you want, where and what side in and down.
Sometimes the grain will decide it, but here I go mainly by the look, so we get beauty for the beautiful one back home.
Cheers, it’s a dam good whiskey btw.

Let’s get to work.
Marking up and cutting the layout lines, for the hand cut fingers / box joints / slot joints or what ever you call them… (in Denmark we call them fingers, I’ll stay on that route), I will use fingers on the tote this time, as I think the doves will be too fancy. KISS for my gf – Keep It Simple Stupid. (S – me).
Here the thickness of the boards, are marked up on the sides, with a marking gauge.
I do love the Veritas gauge, used it quite a few years now and smile each time I bring it to use.

Dividing it into a fitting number of fingers.
I want to have the fingers starting and ending on the ends of the tote, this will give the most beautiful curves I think.
Also I cant make them too thin, since the ends will be quite weak, due to the grain direction.
So five it is.

Now they can be marked up with a knife.
This one is a Korean marking knife.

I always mark what is waste, you only make the mistake of not doing that once…
(Yes I did that some years back and cut on the wrong side of the finger).

When I hand cut fingers or dovetails, that I want to look nice, I always take the time to make these little 45° side cuts.

Like this the saw have a side guide.
As you can see the saw runs perfectly down the side of the cut.
You will discover, that anyone can make beautiful cuts if they do this, even if you are not a trained woodworker with 35 years of sawing in your hand.
Yes it really is that easy and you can use it on all cuts, you need to make with a hand saw!

Here on the end finger, I do the same.
First a vertical cut, flat side of chisel, facing the line.

And the 45° cut, with the chisel turned.

You get it?
Then do the other side also.

But don’t start flat like this, tilt the saw down, to start the cut in the 45° cut, do this from both sides first, before going flat on longer cuts.

Then your cut will be sharp and the good side intact.

Is it the whiskey or do you also see a unicorn that pooped?

The cut out’s between the fingers can be sawed out, with a turning saw, or cut with a chisel, I prefer the last.
Just bang the bucker…
Ok, I should have done it in two parts, it made some small marks on the good side of the line.
(The good side of the line, is on the part you want to keep, the other side is the waste side).

With chisel and pine we usually end up with this.
It does not really matter, as it will not be visible and gluing on end grain, gives almost no strength any way.

Don’t remember why I took this picture…

So we got fingers on the four sides, let’s move on.

Time to transfer the fingers to the end pieces of the tote.
Put the side piece flat and square on top of the end you want marked.
When using the side fingers as marking tool, you have no risk of marking mistakes and if you made a mistake before, it will be transferred, to give a correct match here.
In other words, don’t ever just mark up both pieces and cut them, it hardly never fits perfectly.

Check they line up.

With a knife, mark up, use the side of the fingers as guide and use a knife with a flat side..
On this picture I have offset it a wee to show you the marking after it was done.

Mark the waste part.

Hmmmm, the knot here are moving, I could not get around it, when marking up the end, so I had to accept it.

No problem, it can be glued back in, with some gel CA glue.
Woodworking is also about fixing mistakes.

Finally we can get to the end fingers, here marking up the thickness of the boards.
I stop the cuts, because I would otherwise make the end weaker and risk it will break down the line, as it is in the grain direction.

Basically we never want to cut fingers or doves like this, they will not be as strong as if two end grains meet up. Here it’s a choice between the black death or the cholera here, as we want the grain to run all the way up to the handle on the end pieces and we then have no other choice here, than to cut fingers from meeting end and cross grain.

In my last tool tote blog, I made this sketch to explain the situation, the red force arrows show where the strength is.

Cutting down the sides.

Yes I like the cuts to overlap and become visual, for me it gives this hand made expression afterwards

Try to fixate the wood always when marking, then your angle will not slip.

Yes you know by now what I’m doing, yes?

A few strokes with the saw later and we are there.
The sawing takes no time, especially when you made a good marking and the guiding cuts.

When going cross grain, I like to use a 20 tpi dovetail saw, these fine teeth’s almost makes dust and makes an extremely fine cut. When I saw the rip part, I use a 14 tpi saw, since it’s faster.
(If I should have only one dovetail saw, it would be 12-14 tpi).
tpi= teeth’s pr inch.

You can see the lines are sharp on the good side and the tear out are on the waste side of the backside of the cut.

Front side.

Time to kick ass, or chew bubble gum and I’m all out of gum…
(Have you been there too?).

Here an interesting fact.
When you bang out the wast, the chisel will follow the grain, so it will look like this.

It can be a wee dangerous, so you should start less aggressive, as I did in the second go.
(Yes I make plenty of mistakes).

Here you see why. On the fist cut, I went all the way to the marked line, I was lucky, it could have gone a little passed and then I would be in trouble. On the other one I still have wood to work with on this side.

So here on the back I cut half way down now.

Turn the board and it looks like this.

Cut again, you can do this by hand.
Be care full, that the chisel stays with in the waste part, otherwoise you risk breaking off a finger.

I believe it’s called parring.

Let’s see what we got.

Matching hand cut fingers!

Since I’m not all done, I’ll stop the blog here and continue with a part two once I’m done, in part two I will tell about fitting and fixing fingers, hand planing / table saw cutting the grooves for the bottom of the caddy and making a branch from the forest into a handle, perhaps some pimping up the caddy, before I wax it up, wrap it up and give it to my dear gf Yeli.

Hope it can be to some inspiration, perhaps that you learned something, or at least that you enjoyed the read.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

12 comments so far

View pottz's profile


15006 posts in 1999 days

#1 posted 01-06-2020 02:35 AM

wow another beautiful trip through the woodshop,always a spiritual journey that never dissappoints.looking forward to part two,thanks my friend.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View lew's profile


13317 posts in 4770 days

#2 posted 01-06-2020 03:22 AM

Thai you, Mads, for the tip on using the chisel to nick the wood as a starting point for the saw.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View doubleDD's profile


10161 posts in 3058 days

#3 posted 01-06-2020 04:30 AM

Always making it look easy with your process of steps. If I pay attention here I can learn something. LOL.
Waiting to see how you bring the project home.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5067 days

#4 posted 01-06-2020 06:07 AM


-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Ken90712's profile


17973 posts in 4203 days

#5 posted 01-06-2020 12:14 PM

That’s cool buddy, I wish I had the patience for a mostly hand tool build like that. Great job, cheers

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4349 days

#6 posted 01-06-2020 05:32 PM

Nice work Mads. Always enjoy seeing (and doing) handwork. Great gift item too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7903 posts in 4368 days

#7 posted 01-08-2020 12:02 PM

Great blog! Love the walk through all the steps in photos! Makes a nice gift!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View mafe's profile


12930 posts in 4104 days

#8 posted 01-09-2020 07:35 PM

Hi guys,
pottz, lovely to take you along, thank you, I do love to work there.
Lew, I use that method always, it takes a few extra seconds, but I almost always end up with a good cut and no tear out, so I really think it’s worth it. Sometimes when lazy, I just precut, the whole way around and make a single V cut to start the saw (sometimes I regret).
doubleDD, laugh, yes keep a sharp eye open. Trust me, it easy. Thanks.
Ken, I actually never thought I had the patience, but I find it so joyful that it just happens. My nerves are stuck in my neck, that’s why its not all hand made, I need to find a balance and making the boards with a lunch box planner and sawing some on a band saw helps me from getting tension. My rule is, I have to know how and to have made some, then I can use the power tools. Thank you.
stefang, always a joy to do hand work, I hope to do this more in the future, green wood working also, but being in the city life and a workshop away from home, sets some limitations. Thank you Mike.
woodshaver Tony C, Thank you Tony, I really tried this time to show all the steps, so I’m happy you enjoyed it.
Thank you all.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View madts's profile


1953 posts in 3354 days

#9 posted 01-09-2020 08:40 PM

Nice caddy Mads. You have been busy as of late so things must be good for you. Have never thought that a shot of whiskey at the end of the day, was a bad thing.

Keep up the good stuff. I enjoy your blogs.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View mafe's profile


12930 posts in 4104 days

#10 posted 01-09-2020 10:00 PM

Hi Madts,
Thank you for your kind words.
Yes I’m trying to get more to the workshop this winter, as I know I will come there less in the summer, now I have the allotment house.
A shot of whiskey is a good thing in my book.
I have a rule for alcohol at the workshop, I can have a beer for lunch and a beer when I have swiped the floor or a whiskey at special occasions, otherwise I fall in the hole, think it’s because I had too much when I was a young man. In average I only have a on beer a day and one or two pipes of tobacco, this keeps me full of joy when I get it, smiles.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Brit's profile


8303 posts in 3857 days

#11 posted 01-10-2020 04:38 PM

What a lovely gift you’re making there Mads. I must get myself a whiskey though because I couldn’t see any unicorn poop.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View mafe's profile


12930 posts in 4104 days

#12 posted 01-11-2020 11:15 PM

Andy, big laugh. You should do that, but still look carefully. We always deserve a whiskey. ;-)

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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