Japanese tools #16: Japanese tool tray - for the toolbox. (blog)

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Blog entry by mafe posted 06-30-2012 09:25 PM 15595 reads 10 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Japanese woodworking videos - just for inspiration Part 16 of Japanese tools series Part 17: Japanese toolbox - update. »

Japanese tool tray
for the new toolbox

To complete the setup for working with Japanese tools I wanted a little tool tray that I could use to hold and carry tools while working, especially to keep the chisels off the ground.

I decided it should be made so it could be stored and transported in the toolbox when not in use, that it should be made with the same joinery as the drawer and again no hardware.
For the beauty and the joy of the eye I wanted a handle made of a branch like I have on my tool tote , so first step was a walk in the forest.

Here a drawing of what I was aiming for.

As some of you know I need (and enjoy) help of power tools so first step is a little tour at the table saw to cut roughly to size.
First a sheet of thin board for the bottom.

Then some scrap from the toolbox is cut to the right board size and the four sides to length.

Now time for some marking.
Setting the gauge for the board thickness.

Marking the finger joints.

Dividing into three.

And some smoke.

Marking the waste.

Cutting the shoulder.

With a cutting gauge I go quite deep to make a crisp shoulder.

Then the waste can be removed quite fast and rough.

Cleaning the sides.

For this the Japanese chisels hollow back is not the best for guiding compared to my English cabinetmakers chisels.

But it’s just wood.

And quite fast it’s done.

Now check the shoulders, to determine where to go on the line.

I saw a bit off the line so I can pare myself to a perfect fit after.
If it was hardwood I would go closer.

Other side.

Time to hone those English cabinetmakers chisels.

And pare the joint.

That’s a fine fit.

So fine that it can stay together in the air with no glue.

Next step is the groove for the bottom.
Since I did not have a Japanese plough plane for this task I used my Record.

This is how the Japanese version looks, I bought some after, that I now look forward to set up and make some shaves with.

Cutting the grooves.

Nice and crisp – I do love the 43.

And for the stopped grooves I fist cut the end point so I know where to stop and the wood will not tear this way.

And a little clean up.


This is why it need to be stopped.
Otherwise you would be able to see the groove come out through the end.

Bottom is cut to size.

Glue time!
Sounds like a jazzy thing…

Make sure to get it all over.
Not all over you and the table…

And in the tray you now see some pieces of wood that I have cut to make some dividers.

I cut a groove on the table saw.

Looking like dividers.
But a little thick so I will plane them down.

Now for the handle.

And I make a round tenon joint for the branch handle, with a cross pin

And the handle is made detachable and fitted into the tray side.


That fits into the toolbox.

Like so.

And you can play with…
Do not ask me why…

Now ready to help me carry and take care of my tools.

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.

14 comments so far

View patron's profile


13708 posts in 4190 days

#1 posted 06-30-2012 09:43 PM

up to your wonderful work again mads

always an inspiration
always a new knowledge

thank you for the sharing

be well

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3705 days

#2 posted 07-01-2012 12:24 AM


Great as usual

As if you were in the next room

I got a new stove

There is a few pieces of white pine used inside

the polystyrene packaging

You have inspired me yet again

Thank You


-- 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 JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4140 days

#3 posted 07-01-2012 12:42 AM

Regarding the picture with the sticks: Okay, I won’t ask why, but I will ask “what?”

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View littlecope's profile


3100 posts in 4351 days

#4 posted 07-01-2012 01:30 AM

You are a Treasure Mads!
Thanks for a few minutes of Peace and Serenity… and the Smiles… :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3653 days

#5 posted 07-01-2012 01:45 AM

Wow Mads. Looks like some a nice stack o chop-sticks that nice tote is sittin on

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

View SebLolo's profile


65 posts in 3065 days

#6 posted 07-01-2012 06:52 AM

Interesting and useful, as always with MaFe.

Thx a lot.


View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4183 days

#7 posted 07-01-2012 12:48 PM

Nice to see those old and Japanese hand tools in action Mads. A nice result on the tray and I love the branch handle. The next to last picture might indicate that you need help (to get the stack higher).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 3055 days

#8 posted 07-01-2012 01:47 PM

It is always a joy to read and watch you work!


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

View Brit's profile


8168 posts in 3691 days

#9 posted 07-01-2012 03:33 PM

I love the tray Mads and I love the way you made the handle removable so it fits in your toolbox. However, I’m not sure I like the twig handle. I’ll have to buy some toffees so that I can chew it over and decide.


Ok I’ve decided I like it. Carry on.

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

View Sodabowski's profile


2390 posts in 3682 days

#10 posted 07-01-2012 05:05 PM

I love the post, as always. You’re really a great storyteller :)

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

View SirFatty's profile


547 posts in 3061 days

#11 posted 07-01-2012 09:32 PM

Really nice work! I feel inspired to hand cut my joints!

-- Visit my blog at

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10927 posts in 4901 days

#12 posted 07-01-2012 09:48 PM

Mads, very nice tool tote…

COOL work!

It’s nice to see someone make box joints by hand… like dovetails!

COOL Project!

Thank you for all of the pictures… great work!

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

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3938 days

#13 posted 07-02-2012 09:27 AM

Hi hi,
Joe, boxtails… Yes I also think it is refreshing to see them handcut, it do make a difference in the result.
SirFatty, cool, this is what LJ is all about – inspire.
Thomas, Omadseus wood Odyssey… Laugh.
Andy, OMG toffees I completely forgot about these – now I will have to go looking – muuuummmmm.
If still some doubt I will give you Twiggy while you think…
Nate, and so to you.
Stefang, the truth about these stigs are that my daughter and I was playing this Mikado game that afternoon and we got inspired and started to play by building a ‘tower’, it was not even meant to fit the tray.
Seb, thank you for those words, I guess they fit quite well what I am aiming for ‘interesting and useful’, if one part is missing I am never happy with it really. That gave the functionalist architect here something to think about.
Roger, Sushi time!
littlecope, to give you that is a treasure in it self, thank you.
JJohnston, and I will laugh high (look at my answer to Stefang).
Jamie, I look forward to see what that pack will become, to inspire and be insired keeps us alive, balance.
David, big smile from here.
The best of my thoughts (even they are a bit messy these days), and a big warm smile you gave me,

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

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3925 days

#14 posted 07-02-2012 12:03 PM

Yet another fun and insightful blog Mads. You have an incredible talent of doing this where it makes us feel like we are actually there experience it with you (at least it does to me…lol). Enjoyed it and thanks for sharing…

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

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