Japanese tools #12: Japanese toolbox - making the basic box

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Blog entry by mafe posted 06-05-2012 07:16 PM 41376 reads 16 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Japanese toolbox - thoughts Part 12 of Japanese tools series Part 13: Japanese toolbox - drawer, making the wood drawer lock »

Japanese toolbox

As I wrote in the first part – I have been looking forward to make this blog, so here we go.

My conclusion was:
Low price light weight wood: pine.
Thin planed boards for low weight.
No hardware.
Size that I can easy carry.
Proportions slim for elegancy.
A drawer for small things, and for giving myself a challenge of traditional Japanese drawer making.
Finally I choose to buy a bag of bamboo nails, this to try the traditional way, for beauty and again for giving myself a challenge – this I know is not traditional at all.

And for the dimensions 72cm long x 25cm wide x 20cm high, I think this gave some elegant proportions, but do as you want or as your wood commands you.
The boards are planed down to 0,8cm / 0,3inches thick this gives a light box to carry (it is more than enough).

Just found this drawing I made in one of my sketchbooks.

For the marking:
The bottom is the full width and length of the box (the box stands on it).
The sides full length.
The lid fits in between the sides so it is the width minus the two side’s thickness.
The rest is clear to see on the drawing.

The wood.
As usual a recycle project, this time an old down hung celling, boards left in the street and picked up for later use – now.

First I cut them to width on both sides.

This is what I came up with…

Then I needed to add more electricity to be able to use the planer / thicknesser app same model as this.
Yes a wood nerd needs to do electricity too…

Wood is waiting MaFe…

And just a little time to make a planer knife setup tool also.

And this is what it ended up with.
Look at all those shaves for so little wood, a shame we can’t make our own MDF…
But at least now some fine boards for free.

Now time to see what we got and plan out the layout and size of the box after the wood.

I carefully mark the boards for sides, lid and so.

Now back to the work of the hand.
I plan the boards for the glue up.

To make sure the whole length is good you can mark with a pen.

Then plan and see when it’s all gone.

Like so.

And the pen marks you will find in the shaves.

Lots of shaves – I love it!

Glue the sides and clamp up, here with Japanese clamps.

Boards for one side.

Small wood spacers to avoid marks from the clamps, and pressure.

Once dry it’s time for marking up the final sizes.

And cut to length.
I try first with a Japanese saw since I want to do as much as possible by hand but my health as usual makes me need to use power tools for a large part. (Spinal neck operation that was no success).

Before I saw I score the cut with a marking knife to avoid tear out.

Hand cut.

Circular saw.

First impressions…

It might be a box success…
(Ok you are not funny MaFe).

Ends – sides – bottom – top ends and battens for the lid.

The oversized lid is put on top, and then I mark up the top end and app. an inch extra on each side, so that the batten is one inch from the top side part.

Other end an inch extra too, but here the batten is flush to the top part.

Now cut of one end.

And other end, this will make it possible to open and lock the box.

This is where we are now.
With some nails we could have a finished toolbox in a few moments.

I will split the blog here and continue soon.

Hope this blog can bring some inspiration to others that play with Japanese tools and work methods.

I want to send a special warm thought to Toshio Odate, thank you for inspire ring me with your book, but most of all my sister who offered me my Japanese chisels and a Kanna that was the reason why this interest started.

Best thoughts,


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

34 comments so far

View madts's profile


1921 posts in 2944 days

#1 posted 06-05-2012 07:36 PM

Mads: This is too much fun to watch. Cannot wait for the next episode.

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

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3461 days

#2 posted 06-05-2012 07:37 PM

Great Blog Mads

I’m really enjoying it.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View PurpLev's profile


8554 posts in 4253 days

#3 posted 06-05-2012 07:41 PM

oooooh, I like this one.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3891 days

#4 posted 06-05-2012 07:41 PM




View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3623 days

#5 posted 06-05-2012 07:44 PM

Great blog as usual. Looking forward to the finished product.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19424 posts in 3172 days

#6 posted 06-05-2012 08:02 PM

great job Mads.

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

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4487 days

#7 posted 06-05-2012 08:05 PM

I am inspired and smiling.
You are one of a kind sir.

Thanks for the tour,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2825 days

#8 posted 06-05-2012 08:12 PM

Very nice as always! Thanks for sharing Mads.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23740 posts in 3710 days

#9 posted 06-05-2012 08:29 PM

Nice blog, Mads. I can’t wait to see the finish product. I like how you selected your parameters, my friend!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3939 days

#10 posted 06-05-2012 08:29 PM

I think you made a mistake somewhere Mads. Your box looks better than the Japanese ones. Fun blog. I’m looking forward to the next part.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3438 days

#11 posted 06-05-2012 09:06 PM

Loving this blog post of yours, as always. You’re such a dream seller :)

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

View Henrik Oscarsson's profile

Henrik Oscarsson

48 posts in 2926 days

#12 posted 06-05-2012 09:07 PM

Very neat! can´t wait for part two

-- Henrik - Stockholm, Sweden

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3259 days

#13 posted 06-05-2012 09:30 PM

I think you are going to force me to make one of these. I saw an ammo box over the weekend, nails and a simple latch and some cheap wood…not far off from this and yet it can hold so much with the right care.

Thanks for sharing.

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

View bko's profile


118 posts in 3622 days

#14 posted 06-05-2012 09:49 PM

Hi Mads,

Nice work and great proportions! I have always wanted to build one of these and I think you will push me over the edge.

You don’t say what the final thickness of the pine boards was. It looks like about 3/8” or 9-10mm. Is that about right? That is thinner than I would have thought! I would have chickened out and used 1/2” for strength.

Thanks for showing this project—very fun!


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3720 days

#15 posted 06-05-2012 10:16 PM

wrong Mads …... you are funny :-)
this is deffently have been a long waiting time for me
to see this toturial picturebook serie …. you know why
and the rest of you … you deffently have something to look forward to :-)
no I don´t say it I wont spoile the fun for Mads
no not even if you brought a hot cup of Mads´s capocinos in front of my nose
will I open my mouth for other than drinking it …. :-)

thanks for a good blog Mads

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