A Modern Lady's Toolbox

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Project by handy_andy posted 11-23-2015 08:14 PM 1861 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My girlfriend is a mechanical engineer, a largely male field, so made her what I’m calling a “pretty toolbox”. I started with a three drawer jewelry box design and added space along he door for tool pouches.

I managed to get an old oak desk off craigslist for free. It has spent the last couple decades as a workbench in a hardware store and between the loose leg joints, battered top, and duct tapped drawers it’s time as a desk was over. The desk top was 7/8” thick so I was able to plane several large 3/4” and 1/2” boards out of it, which became the frame and doors.

The doors have rabbit joints, with walnut butterflies mostly for decoration. The doors also accept pictures, 4×6 on the front and 5×7 on the side.

The carcass sides are mortised into the base and were supposed to be attached to the back with a sliding dovetail. But the sliding dovetail froze halfway in to the glue up and efforts to force it the rest of the way cracked back, the left side, and tore off one of the dovetails. After a dramatic amount of profanity I managed to add a mess of glue and 1/4” dowels to shore it up enough to keep going.

The lid, which holds an 6×8 photo, is inlaid with her initials in padauk and has butterfly joints that look like butterflies out of purpleheart.

I used two coats of tung oil for color, 2~4 coats of polyurethane for stain resistance, and brown paper / paste wax to rub out the finish.

In a previous project I made custom tool holders out of MDF. The result was heavy and bulky. It also did not lend itself to changing the tool inventory. For this project I sewed tool holders out of grey duck cotton edged in purple gross grain ribbon. The tool pouches are bolted to brass threaded inserts in the doors so that they can be easily changed.

At the last minute I added handles to the needle files. I turned purpleheart handles, threaded a brass pipe fitting on the end, and epoxied the needle files in an 1/8” bore.

The well received final product:

5 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile


12913 posts in 3738 days

#1 posted 11-23-2015 11:10 PM

Wow, I am seriously impressed. A lot of work and passion went into this project, she is a lucky person. Great piece of work and hopefully more to come.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View wmgworks's profile


196 posts in 2273 days

#2 posted 11-23-2015 11:44 PM

That looks great! And love that you made it out of free materials

-- Butchering wood since 2015

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 11-24-2015 12:05 AM

Nice! Looks like she certainly APPROVES, and the brownie points you earned are ASTRONOMICAL !!!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8354 posts in 4640 days

#4 posted 11-24-2015 12:02 PM

Wow…. very nice! So much going on in your project! Impressive! I see a very proud young lady with a huge happy smile!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View Mikhail's profile


48 posts in 2978 days

#5 posted 11-25-2015 10:02 AM

The side pouches hold quite a dense amount of tools. Excellent use of space!

Pictures are a nice touch too.

Practical and Appealing.

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