Carving Tool Box - pt1

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Project by xraydav posted 01-13-2015 06:49 PM 3251 views 6 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

If you take a class from Mary May (wood carver), or join Mary May’s online carving school, one of many things you will learn is to love your tools. (“You can never have enough”) As my collection of quality tools has grown, wanted a way to store and transport them safely. Still wanted to be able to get to all of them quickly when ready to carve. With this system, they are all secure in the case, but when the top comes off and you pull out the top tray, set it on the bench in front of the bottom box… you have easy access to 40 full size tools. Yes tool rolls are easy, but 12 or 18 tools is all your getting in, unless they become so big you worry about so many tools in a clump. Also if you have L series gouges or bent backs, they do not fit into nice straight spaces, they push and protrude into other spaces.

Mary has also taught how to get them SHARP so wanted to make sure there were no metal hinges or clasps anyplace an accidental bump could dull a tool. So top has dowels along one side that fit into holes in the case (you can see the holes in the side near the lid on the first picture) and a couple rare earth magnets inlaid on the opposite side. They do not stick out and even then, NdFeB or Neodymium Iron Boron is softer than steel.

Started with 3/4 pine. But did not want the weight and bulk of 3/4 pine so I ripped it in half on the table saw to 5/16th’s. Wanted the box small enough to carry under one arm so worked out the dimensions by lining tools up on my bench. Dovetailed the 5/16th’s pine in the corners for strength and dado’ed a grove around the inside for the bottom piece of 3/8th’s ply to hold down weight. Knew I would strengthen this bottom with the tool holder strips see next picture.

First I made the main box with the bottom holder. After laying tools out on my bench I knew how far apart to space the half rounds for holding the handles in place. Made the frame for the top tray and strips for the bottom tool holders and clamped them together and drilled 1” holes for handles to fit into between the two strips. This gave me half rounds on both that lined up perfectly.

After drilling those holes, added another row of tool holder holes above for the top tray and dado’d

a grove for the top tray’s bottom.

The top tray is also dovetailed for strength out of 3/4 pine. I drilled holes through sides

rather than making the case 1 1/2” wider. So all tools fit in same footprint. Also the bottom of the top tray, and the inside of the cover both have a 3/8th’s”x2”x18” strip of temper foam glued along the center line. When the tray and the lid are inlace, the foam holds down the tools to keep them from shifting or rattling.

Finally the lid and how to attach it. Lid is rabbeted like a draw front would be. Then 5 dowels inset into the lid, and matching holes in the case side.

2 rare earth magnets inlaid into the lid and case side on the opposite side.

Finally,inspired by Mary’s fireplace Sunburst, I decided to carve that lesson into my lid. High gloss lacquer finish because sometimes when I sharpen, I have iron filings on my fingers and did not want that to dull the bright pine lid. With this finish, it cleans up with windex and paper towels. Turned a button for the center out of rosewood on the lathe. I do love my tools and want to take the best care of them. Now they are safely stored and easy to transport. I have an old Coleman stove nylon carrying case they fit into perfectly for taking to a class or friends shop.

-- David, Norwood Mass, [email protected]

7 comments so far

View J123's profile


363 posts in 3557 days

#1 posted 01-13-2015 08:24 PM

Very nice. I’ve been considering Mary’s classes. Did you find them helpful?

View jim65's profile


1020 posts in 3150 days

#2 posted 01-13-2015 08:32 PM

Excellent solution, great work. I have been using tool rolls with all the above mentioned problems (as well as cuts and nicks putting away the tools) and have been sketching up different designs for a tool box or a case like the pfeil box (like yours) but have yet to build something. At the moment my tools are stuck in tool rolls laid out in large flat plastic boxes. Your post has motivated me to finally get after this project, Beautiful box and great storage! Thanks for sharing!!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View AJ1104's profile


1342 posts in 2876 days

#3 posted 01-13-2015 09:26 PM

Really nice job on your carving tool box. I love the sunburrst carving. Enjoy using it.

-- AJ

View Northwest29's profile


1711 posts in 3707 days

#4 posted 01-13-2015 10:33 PM

Great job David! I think you may have just solved my 3 tool roll problem. What is it that you are using to protect the ends? Thanks.

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View CharlieK's profile


605 posts in 5010 days

#5 posted 01-14-2015 12:43 AM

HI David,

I have not had a chance to take one of Mary’s classes. She was scheduled to teach locally at Mike Siemsen’s school, but the class was cancelled.

That is a great design for storing carving tools.

Thanks for sharing,

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3509 days

#6 posted 01-14-2015 03:08 AM

Very nice in all respects—design, organization and build.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Isra's profile


135 posts in 2620 days

#7 posted 01-14-2015 07:59 AM

Very nice and useful.

-- Isra, Salcedillo (Cantabria),

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