Caddy for tools, gardening, drawing, painting... #2: fixing mistakes, improvising and getting it done

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Blog entry by mafe posted 01-08-2020 11:08 AM 1509 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Caddy for tools, gardening, drawing, painting…
fixing mistakes, improvising and getting it done

Here we are at part two of the caddy build, a Christmas gift for my girlfriend, as I thought she should have something, made with my hands.

Last blog ended here, where the fingers were cut and we have a frame.

Took these pictures after the whiskey was enjoyed and I then left the shop for the day.

But let’s go back to where we finished.
Let’s talk about the mistakes we make and how to fix them.
Sometimes the fingers or dovetails might not be tight enough, this will mean that there are no glue surface and it might not look as you wished for…

But don’t worry, we can fix that and the solution is often in the waste…
When it’s just a wee bit, you can cut a slice of a finger off cut.

Then slice it in, for a perfect match.

Next we will look at fingers that are too wide.
For this we need a super sharp chisel, so I always start by stopping it.

We want that mirror, to reflect our mistakes.
After all this is the best way to learn, smiles.

It’s clear to see, that my saw cut slipped a little here and since we have these forbidden fingers, we have to cut in end grain – that’s why it important to have a super sharp chisel.

But with a sharp chisel, it is no problem.

Now we have a tight fit.

I’m happy with this.

The fingers are so tight, that the can hold the box together, without glue.
We want tight a fit, but not that you need violence to put them together.
So yes actually rather a tiny bit loose, than too tight.

Ok, so we are there finally, fingers done.

Time for tobacco.

Let’s pick up a plane so we can cut the groove for the bottom.

My little favourite for that job.

But first I like to cut, so the plane have a guide, like this the grain direction will also not mean too much.
We don’t want tear out do we? Smiles.
If the cut will be a success through a knot… that will take more tan luck, but it’s why I put this on a not visible place.

With a sharp 43, it takes just a few passes.

I set it at quite aggressive, if you don’t make a pre cut, then you should start less aggressive.

How can you not smile, looking at this!

I call this crisp!

Hmmmmmmmmm… Huston we got a problem!
Cutting cross grain…
I mark as I think, how the f… do I manage this.
If this should have been done, I would have needed a much wide piece at the bottom, if I cut with a rabbet plane here, it will almost certainly tear out and parts of it break off.

So I take a drastic choice here.
A motor plane…

Like this the edge can be crisp.
(It was not my plan, so I’m a wee annoyed, but a crisp edge brought my smile back).

The board for the bottom can now be measured.

A piece of thin plywood – took this choice to keep the weight down, as it’s a caddy.

Slides right in.
As you can see the knot did not not make it, when I planed the rabbet.
No problem, since it’s not visible.

I’ll stick to the stick handle…
I fine branch from a Danish forest.

Using the knife that was a part of Dave’s and mine project together, the SPRAD knifes.
Lovely knife Dave, thank you with a big smile.

After a wee time with a knife, I finish up with a scraper and feel pleased for the beauty and simplicity that nature brings this project.


Drilling holes for the handle, two sizes.
Always drill almost through with Forstner bits, then turn and use the hole as pilot, to drill the last part from other side, so you don’t get tear out.

Fixing a problem again…
Yes wood working is a lot about that also, especially when we make things without a plan.
Here I cut some thin strips, the size of the rabbet.

Sawing off a wee bit.

To fix the holes I decided was needed at the end pieces, as I could not make stopped cuts on the table saw…
This is where the rabbet ends.

But first let’s put this caddy together for good.
Gluing the fingers.

When putting it together, if a finger are too tight, try using a clamp, to slowly press it together.
A hammer might make the wood crack.
(My fingers were almost too tight, so I had a struggle, since the wood expanded a wee, once the glue was applyed).

Now the bottom are glued in and the other side can be glued in place.

Drilling for wooden nails, to hold the handle in place.

A bamboo skewer and a beech wood nail.

The repair can be done, I don’t try to make it invisible here, it’s something that can show a story on the caddy after.

Glue it in and cut flush.

Since the fingers a quite fragile on the ends, I decide to give the box some wood nails, so I feel sure it will never come apart, but also because I like the look of them.

Now not only the fingers are holding them together.
Should I also give the other fingers a wood nail? In that case it should perhaps be from the same side…

Sharp chisel again.

Cut flush.

Fixing the mistakes again!
I did exactly what I warned against, I used a mallet to bang the corner of this end in to place – and the finger broke off…
But it’s not a problem that can’t be fixed, so some glue and a wood nail and we are back in business. Ironically this will be stronger now.

Ok here we have a new fix.
One of the fingers had a wee gap and after the glue up, it was even worse.
Look at the rabbet fix and wood nail now, these just adds to the character now.
I use the small scraper to clean up the gap.

Here a few thin strips.

Glue on the thin strip that fits and push it in.
Then beak or cut it off.

Yes it’s thin.

Once the surface is scraped or sanded, no one will ever see that fix.

Time to clean up the surface and give the extra finish on the fingers.
A low angle plane held skewed (30° sideways as you move it straight forward), this will prevent tear out and you will get a beautiful surface.
Never go outwards, then you will break the edges.

Look how the fingers get more crisp and flush.

This is what I’m looking for.

Ends after clean up.
After this I just use a card scraper on the hole tote, to make that clean closed surface, that sand paper can’t do.

So here we are, the tool caddy is done.

With painting tools in it.

The end…

The blog ends here.
Now the blog is a wrap, I can go and wrap up the caddy and give it to Yeli.

Could not resist, to take a picture with my own tote, I think they are such a fine pair now.

I enjoyed this little project for many reasons, first off all because it is a gift for my gf, second because it was an improvised project based on an older project of mine, third, because I could use it to show some methods of working and even more important, how to fix our mistakes.

Thank you for watching, especially you Yeli, I was really happy, that you liked it and could appreciate the work of my hands.

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.

8 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6641 posts in 1551 days

#1 posted 01-08-2020 12:14 PM

It’s a nice tote, and I’m glad to see the knife is serving you well. Mine is being used on my project for the surprise swap, but I have to wait to post photos, since it is supposed to be a surprise.

Thanks for showing the mistakes along the way, and how you corrected them. It’s interesting to see someone else’s approach to some problems I’ve had in the past.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View lew's profile


13272 posts in 4725 days

#2 posted 01-08-2020 07:47 PM

Thank, Mads, for sharing your remedies for some of the things that can go wrong.

Those totes are really nice!

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

View mafe's profile


12844 posts in 4058 days

#3 posted 01-09-2020 09:53 PM

Hi Dave and Lew,
Most of the time, the internet is a place where we make polished pictures to impress, I more and more think it’s become really important to show also what it really looks like. Life might be walking on roses, but when we walk on roses, we also walk on thorns, bleed, cry, pain, mix up with the beauty and the smell.
The knife is a joy, the warmth of the handle is really nice and I have a soft spot for good carbon steel, it kind of talk the same language as wood.
Dave my problems keep coming, they don’t stay in the past. Laugh.
Thanks for the compliments. ;-)
Best thoughts,

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

View MrWolfe's profile (online now)


1399 posts in 1093 days

#4 posted 01-10-2020 04:05 AM

Very nicely written blog post about your totes. Its very instructional as you show “issues” that arise (and they always do) and your solutions to them. I appreciate that part of all projects… accidently creating little problems that need to be solved and embracing it all as part of the process.
Cool Totes and very cool post.
Thank you

View Brit's profile


8233 posts in 3812 days

#5 posted 01-10-2020 09:15 PM

Really enjoyed this one Mads. Thanks for all the great photos and commentary.

-- 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


12844 posts in 4058 days

#6 posted 01-11-2020 11:10 PM

MrWolfe, Thank you John, for the kind words. Yes if woodworking was always just looking at a plan and making the parts, I would find my self a different hobby, somehow it’s the fact that wood is alive and have it’s own will, that makes it so wonderful to work with. Big smile.
Brit, Andy we could build some totes when you come visit… I look at my saws every day now and they agree, that we look forward to your arrival. ;-) Thank you dear Andy.
A big warm smile from me in Copenhagen,

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

View Brit's profile


8233 posts in 3812 days

#7 posted 01-19-2020 11:21 PM

Building some totes is a great idea Mads. Tell your saws not to worry, it won’t hurt a bit.

-- 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


12844 posts in 4058 days

#8 posted 01-21-2020 09:05 PM

Laughs Andy, they are a worried after they heard about the ‘an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth’... ;-)

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

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