Japanese tools #4: Japanese chisel box (urban recycle project) gift...

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Blog entry by mafe posted 08-18-2011 08:30 PM 33318 reads 13 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Eight old Japanese chisels NOMI get back to life. Part 4 of Japanese tools series Part 5: Sumitsubo I (Japanese ink pot) »

Japanese chisel box.
Urban recycle project.

Ok he lost it!

This box was actually made as a gift for a very special friends birthday, her name is Lulu, Lulus father is a cabinetmaker and so she grew up with the smell of fresh shaves, she love that smell and for this reason it was for me a must to make her a gift that smelled wood and that was made with my hands.

Is not only a box, it is a little box that are a reproduction of one I made a long time ago and call the Japanese chisel box because it has the right size for storing chisels, and because it is a small copy of the traditional Japanese toolbox.

Urban recycle what is that?
It is an idea that I have a wish, a hope. If we look around us so much are trashed, and in the city the streets are floating with stuff, trash to some, but with the right intentions and a little creativity a lot of this can be reclaimed, we can use what some see as trash and transform it into useful and perhaps even esthetic items.
If the little Japanese chisel box Lulu got is esthetic this I will leave to others, but it is useful and it came from my heart and are now officially urban recycle.

What is he talking about?
A board taken of a pallet in the street, it might come from another country and have had its life transporting goods.
A box for fruit, this one is the standard box for fruit delivery in Denmark and plenty of people put them in the street for trash every week, also shops get fruits in boxes like this, and they are made from a thin three layered plywood or a thin wood, and a fiberboard bottom.

Samples comes out to put it apart.

When the bottom are out you might just do like this to cut it up if you don’t need the full length of the wood.
Of course this can be done with a handsaw.

Here is what I ended up with.
The bits and pieces can end in the fireplace if you have one.

So first a cut up to clean the sides up.

And of course I use a Japanese plane to plane the boards, but it is not needed if you do not have a plane.

I also use a no. 7, to set the board straight.
Big boy’s big toys, and he is not Japanese.

Now decide the length of the box and cut up one piece of the thin plywood and two pieces of the pallet wood.

Here I clean it up on the table saw so I am sure they are all true.

Put the two sides on top of the bottom and measure the space left, this will be the width of the inside so we can cut of the end pieces in this size, and we also need this measure to make the slide in lid.

Cut the two end pieces.

Ok I’m late for the birthday, so I’ll have to wrap it up like this and go!
Lulu will be in a guessing game then, and I will finish it when I come back.
By the way, it was a wonderful birthday party, wonderful people, we had a good time, Lulu seemed to be happy for the day and I left late thinking of a dinosaur walking on a beach but that is a long story that have a hard time leaving my head.

Time to fasten the bottom, for this I use glue and nails.
I chosen some beautiful nails made of copper since the box is for Lulu and she has a strong sense for details, and will be aware that they will grow more and more beautiful as time goes, and also it can add a little femininity.
To make sure the nails will not break the wood I pre drill. This I do with my push drill and drill points (I love the look and the use of that tool).

Time to glue.

Ends also.

Bottom up.
And nails to hold it together. Since it is a Japanese box I go after the rule, as few nails as possible.

Tome to make the lid.
Plywood in the width of the box.

Mark up how wide you want it, it needs a little width to grip the lid.
Cut two of these.

It should look like this.

Glue, even when out of focus…

Pre drill and nails.
Here I use little Miss Debbie to help me (The hammer).

Three on a line.

End looks like this now.
Hope you get the big picture.

For the sliding lid we need some plywood in the width of the box and some in the width of the inside of the box.

Cut of two pieces like this that are in the width of the box. Now we need focus!
The two pieces must be placed as seen on the picture.
Place the lids end against the one opening.
Tape one small piece to the lid a little distance from the opening.
Tape the other small piece to the other end so it is barely against the other opening.

Now app. double the size of the upper side end and mark it.
(This is not so clear so look at the last picture).

Pre drill.

Glue and nail.

Turn the lid around and bend the nails over.

To close the box put the longest end down inside the box.

Push it to it meets the end and push it down.
Then pull it back and the lid will be ‘locked’.

The box is a reality
Time to smoke the pipe.
No! It’s time to run again over to Lulu since she just called and invited me for a coffee.

So a light wrap and a handful of shaves inside and off to coffee.
Thank you Lulu.

Perhaps this can inspire to make gifts, make Japanese tool or chisel boxes or even some urban recycle, the choice is yours.

Best thoughts,


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

15 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3393 days

#1 posted 08-18-2011 09:06 PM


-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Bertha's profile


13568 posts in 3254 days

#2 posted 08-18-2011 09:16 PM

Glorious. I love the sliding lid idea. Consider it stolen by me;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 3207 days

#3 posted 08-18-2011 09:20 PM


What a great project and great story, I am sure LuLu loved it.

Also a great reminder that hopefully our kids will think back on us when they grow old and smell that old familiar smell of fresh cut wood.

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View ksSlim's profile


1303 posts in 3450 days

#4 posted 08-18-2011 10:17 PM


-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3215 days

#5 posted 08-19-2011 02:22 AM

Every time I see you make a box I learn something wonderful.

Thanks for this one.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Don W's profile

Don W

19381 posts in 3128 days

#6 posted 08-19-2011 05:49 AM


-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Brit's profile


7869 posts in 3403 days

#7 posted 08-19-2011 08:24 AM

I keep looking out for nice bit of Danish urban recyclable wood. Mads can you imagine me on the way to the client site, telling the taxi driver to slam on the brakes and keep the meter running. Jumping out the cab and smashing up a piece of furniture that has been left by the side of the road. Throwing the bits in the trunk, dusting off my suit and jumping back in the taxi.

If that wasn’t bad enough, imagine me walking into the client’s office with a broken up chest of drawers under my arm like it was the most natural thing in the world. I think they might call the men in white coats to come and take me away. :-)

I am SO going to do it though!!!!

-- 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


12167 posts in 3650 days

#8 posted 08-19-2011 12:45 PM

Hi guys,
Andy, yes that could be really cool, STOP! I can easy imagine you like this. My daughter sometimes shake her head when I arrive to pick her up with a pallet in the back seat or for table legs on the floor of the car, she even got stressed when I drowe her to shool and stopped three times to look for good wood. Now she take the train so I’m not up often at seven in the morning before the trash guys take it all, but perhaps I will have to take some morning rides to look again. My latest finds was some wonderful hardwood parasol, the rod is thick and round hardwood, perfect for the lathe. A shame you could not join us tonight.

Don, I laugh big time! Thank you.

RG, smile here, perhaps just not always woodworking…

Ksslim, cool.

StevieP, yes I hope so too, right now my daughter is on her way in the teenage years so she like to dislike, but I remember this clearly myself, and she have the most wonderful mind and heart so all roads are open.

Al, I stole it from the Japanese, so you are stealing from them – laugh.

Soda, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Best thoughts and thank you all for the sweet comments,

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

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4373 days

#9 posted 08-19-2011 01:02 PM


-- Jiri

View CrossGrain (Josh)'s profile

CrossGrain (Josh)

64 posts in 3579 days

#10 posted 08-19-2011 02:37 PM

What a great little box! Love that it’s recycled.

Reminds me of this recent blog post by Kari Hultman and one of the comments references an interesting little video entitled The Story of Stuff

-- Josh, Virginia ,

View mafe's profile


12167 posts in 3650 days

#11 posted 08-19-2011 04:03 PM

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

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 3207 days

#12 posted 09-25-2011 07:39 PM

Where did you get the marking knife? Or where did you get the steel to make the knife, as it is more likely you made it.

Great little box.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View mafe's profile


12167 posts in 3650 days

#13 posted 09-25-2011 11:02 PM

I got it from Germany…
But here are one from Japan:
No I did not make it, but it could be done from cuting of a piece of steel from a circular saw or a plane iron…
Best thoughts,

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

View mafe's profile


12167 posts in 3650 days

#14 posted 09-25-2011 11:07 PM

Remember to check sizes.

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

View TedsScammer's profile


458 posts in 11 days

#15 posted 11-27-2019 01:09 PM

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Good day, dear woodworker-participant lumberjocks com … and we want to encourage the retired master craftsman to finally reveal his secret archive over
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-- TedsScammer: Do not interact.

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