Japanese tools #14: Japanese toolbox - finish drawer, wood nails and final details.

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by mafe posted 06-11-2012 09:39 AM 89256 reads 24 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 13: Japanese toolbox - drawer, making the wood drawer lock Part 14 of Japanese tools series Part 15: Japanese woodworking videos - just for inspiration »

Japanese toolbox

Here we are part three of the build.
Last blog we made the drawer lock parts and other stuff, now it’s time for drawer parts and the nailing of the box.

This was where we left last, right there on the floor.

Drawer parts ready, front with wood lock made.

And here is the drawing I made for the drawer, following traditional Japanese cabinetmaker ways.

The drawer back gets its rabbet.
And I get to test my Veritas mini shoulder plane (it works fantastic).

Marking, app 3 parts.

Score with the knife.

Cutting the joint.

Chopping out the wood.

Paring the rest.


Marking the sides now, using the back to make sure we get that tight fit.

Like this!

Saw and pare.

And we got some decent fits.

And so we actually have a drawer now.
And I am happy for my knob lock.

The handles need a little work to become more comfortable to carry.

So I round them with a chisel and a knife, but just on the hidden inside.

Ok this is not wood but fun.
My new Japanese square was just too big to fit in the box…
So I had to cut it!
Measure once – cut your square…

Now it fits.

So here we are back to the working area.
Now with a set of Japanese saw horses to rest the toolbox on while nailing it together.

I know that traditionally the toolboxes are nailed with cheap black nails, but I decided for beauty and for the carpentry learning to go for Moku Kugi (melawis wood) nails. Before buying them I thought they were made from bamboo.
These are quite expensive on this side of the world so others who want to do the same – go and buy BBQ sticks and a pencil sharpener and make your own.
(You can buy them in Germany: ).
As you see I mark carefully with a Japanese bamboo ruler and make sure that there are at least two nails in each board the pieces are made from.
This for maximum strength and beauty.

The drill is made for the nails and are tapered.
Notice that I change direction on the holes to make them wedge in, this box will last forever.

And in goes the wood nail.


And the drawer too.
This time I drill with a traditional Japanese kiri hand drill, they are surprisingly effective.
(I will blog about these in a later blog).

This should do.

Once glued in the nails are cut off.

Here you can get a look at my work set up.
Notice the shoes…

And the bird.

So back to work.
The box with the ‘lid’ and back for the drawer.

Plenty of white glue.

Also on each of the nails.

And here upside down before nailing the bottom to the box.

In the inside of the box I cut out a square of wood to hold some cross bars.
And these are made so they can be taken out easy.

Like this.

Here looking down the box.
The cross bars are at the same height as the drawer ‘lid’ in this way it is like a second level of the box.

I also create some hangers that can be put on the tool box lid when the box is open.

And a little fixture that locks the lid to the box when open.

This gives me a small board for hanging the saws and other stuff
As you can see the Japanese planes are traditionally hanging on the side of the box.

That’s it!
My Japanese tool box, and work space.
A little portable work shop.

The end of the tool box blog.

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.

48 comments so far

View Henrik Oscarsson's profile

Henrik Oscarsson

48 posts in 2832 days

#1 posted 06-11-2012 10:19 AM

Thanks Mads!

to read your blog is pure joy.
We can feel your passion. To see you going deep down in every little detail is very inspiring.
what a beautiful work! I just love it!

-- Henrik - Stockholm, Sweden

View Don W's profile

Don W

19336 posts in 3078 days

#2 posted 06-11-2012 10:30 AM

Great blog Mads. I hope you enjoy the box as much as I did reading about it.

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

View stefang's profile


16748 posts in 3845 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 10:31 AM

It’s too bad I didn’t have this great blog when I was younger, but just looking at a floor based workshop these days make my knees ache. What a great toolbox and what a great way to work as well. Very enjoyable journey.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3134 days

#4 posted 06-11-2012 10:40 AM

Well done Mads.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3315 days

#5 posted 06-11-2012 10:49 AM

Very good Mads. Nicely done.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1095 posts in 2823 days

#6 posted 06-11-2012 11:03 AM

Excellent tutorial Mads which will spawn many lookalikes! You are very lucky to be able to have your new workshop located in the house – it will save on the winter heating bills?

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View 58j35bonanza's profile


395 posts in 3203 days

#7 posted 06-11-2012 11:14 AM

My knees and back are hurting just thinking of working on the ground.
Beautiful job on the woodworking as always.

-- Chuck

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23384 posts in 3616 days

#8 posted 06-11-2012 11:26 AM

Very well done, Mads-son!! I have never see the wooden nails but it looks like they are used like dowels with glue for the final assembly and should never loosen- especially when you put them at and angle- neat idea.

Thank you for the detailed blog on the process!!...............Jim

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

View Sylvain's profile


881 posts in 3010 days

#9 posted 06-11-2012 12:33 PM

Very nice toolchest.

At first I didn’t understand why you had to cut your square until I realised that it was the short side which was too long.

Do the dustpan and brush also go in? ;-)
What is the total mass of the tools?
I guess it is less than the mass of 12 bottles of wine.

The lock in the knot is a brilliant idea.
If I understand correctly, the lid is introduced on one side under the corresponding extremity board, clapped close and then shifted under the other extremity board (I am not sure I am clear here).
Is there a locking system for the lid?

Excellent tutorial.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2717 days

#10 posted 06-11-2012 12:51 PM

Again Mafe,

You are a genius! I love how you lilted your dowels! Brilliant!


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3662 days

#11 posted 06-11-2012 12:53 PM

Great blog Mads, but there are no pictures of the Shoes in action!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 3272 days

#12 posted 06-11-2012 03:39 PM

Cool, really cool. Sorry you had to cut your square. The wood nails are a great touch.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3529 days

#13 posted 06-11-2012 03:45 PM

Well done Mads. Really enjoyed watching the entire process.

Looking forward to your next blog/project.

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2731 days

#14 posted 06-11-2012 04:09 PM

Great mads. Nice, relaxing little workspace.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View bko's profile


118 posts in 3528 days

#15 posted 06-11-2012 04:28 PM

Beautiful project Mads! I really like the way you have arranged the toolbox lid and the little hangers for the saws and rules. I like the way the cross bars are removable—also very clever. I was sad that you had to cut the square down to fit—but sometimes you just have to do it.

Yours workspace looks very elegant and very Japanese—wonderful work!


showing 1 through 15 of 48 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics