Boatbuilder's hand tool tote

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Project by miklpa posted 12-13-2015 06:03 PM 8174 views 8 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ll be starting as an apprentice boatbuilder in Copenhagen, Denmark this January. I’ve made this tool tote for transporting hand tools to and from the boats that I’ll be working on.

The tote is made of a board of oak that I have salvaged from an old bookshelf. The size of this board pretty much dictated the size of the tote. The boards were only 18cm wide, which is one of the reasons that I screwed the sides onto the tote instead of dovetailing the four corners. The dovetailing would have consumed about 3cm of width, which would have made the tote very narrow. Anyways, I think dovetailing the bottom to the ends is a better solution overall, as this adds strength to the bottom (which carries the tools’ weight) and the vertical grain direction also makes the top of the sides (and the handle joint) less prone to breaking.

The handle was steam bent from a 22mm oak dowel. I soaked it overnight and steamed it in my oven for an hour and then clamped it onto a template. It worked okay, however the curve of the handle is not quite as sweet as I could have wished. It might be due to the fact that the dowel has been kiln dried and therefore is not as easy to steam bend.

The tote has been treated with a couple of coats of linseed oil.

What I like about the tote:

- I think the overall size and shape is quite nice
- It is relatively light and it seems very strong
- I like the double S curve from the corner to the top of tote (see picture 2)

What I would have done differently:

- The hole for the handle dowel is not very precise. I didn’t have a 22mm drill bit, so I went with a 20mm and filed the rest … with a pretty miserable result.
- I was way too sloppy with the screws at the side. First of all, there are way too many screws – half would probably have been enough. Secondly, I was very sloppy with the measuring which shows quite clearly if you look at the location of the screw plugs.
- I should have been more careful removing excess glue from the joints, because it has prevented the linseed oil from penetrating the inside corners. The effect is that the inside corners of the tote are much lighter in color than the rest of the tote.



14 comments so far

View jim65's profile


1020 posts in 3180 days

#1 posted 12-13-2015 06:51 PM

I think it looks wonderful, nice form!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View observer100's profile


476 posts in 2357 days

#2 posted 12-13-2015 08:51 PM

This looks really neat! I like everything about it! Looks like it has ‘character’.

-- Seeing is believing.

View miklpa's profile


4 posts in 2142 days

#3 posted 12-13-2015 08:52 PM

Thanks guys! :-)

View luv2wheels's profile


39 posts in 2394 days

#4 posted 12-13-2015 11:24 PM

I like the curved ends and the way the curve in the handle matches the curve along the sides. In fact, I am in the process if building a tote and will adding some curves before assembly. Based on what I see, you should do well in your studies.

-- too old to rock & roll......

View bambam89's profile


14 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 12-14-2015 12:45 AM

That turned out really nice!
About it not being just so, once you get some tools in it and are working around the boats those problems will go way.
It’s strong and will get ur done.

View woodcox's profile


2386 posts in 3258 days

#6 posted 12-14-2015 04:55 AM

Fine work Mikkel. I especially like the subtle chamfer atop the ends seen in the second picture that follows the handle’s curvature. Wonderful tote and good luck with your new path!

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View toddbeaulieu's profile


854 posts in 4251 days

#7 posted 12-14-2015 02:31 PM

I really like this and it makes me want to build one. Well done. I appreciated your lists of what you liked and did not like. It’s interesting to learn how others think of their work.

View Humus Workshop's profile

Humus Workshop

65 posts in 2287 days

#8 posted 12-14-2015 03:53 PM

Great work, this is a beautiful tool box.

-- Think, make and share.

View R_Stad's profile


439 posts in 3089 days

#9 posted 12-14-2015 04:50 PM

Great looking tote – style and substance. Your own critique points to the fact that you are open to learning and improving. Wonderful traits for an apprentice. Working on boats – how great is that. Best of luck.

-- Rod - Oregon

View Cindy Braunheim's profile

Cindy Braunheim

53 posts in 3862 days

#10 posted 12-14-2015 06:38 PM

This is a very nice tool tote, Mikkel. Nice lines and good attention to detail, in spite of your observations :)

-- Cindy in Seattle,

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4113 days

#11 posted 12-14-2015 08:44 PM

That’s a beautiful tote. The handle is a real nice touch.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Woodbridge's profile


3751 posts in 3664 days

#12 posted 12-15-2015 10:58 PM

beautiful work.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View miklpa's profile


4 posts in 2142 days

#13 posted 12-16-2015 06:27 AM

Thanks a lot, all of you! :-)

View mafe's profile


13350 posts in 4336 days

#14 posted 12-22-2015 01:10 AM

Fine tote Mikkel, may it serve you well.
Best thoughts,

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

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