The "Zatoichi" Toolbox

  • Advertise with us
Project by Lemongrasspicker posted 03-27-2017 03:08 AM 5520 views 8 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

If you prefer not to read, the video is here

Regarding the name of this project. Zatoichi is the main character from a series of movies by the same title. The first ones were made as far back as the 1960s and the most recent around the early 2000s. Zatoichi is a blind man who works as a massuese in Japan during several different periods. The majority of the stories take place in the Edo period of history which is the 1830s-1840s in Japan. Zatoichi although looking quite normal hides the fact that he is in fact an extremely skilled and dangerous swordsman. He combats Yakuza clans and all sorts of bad guys in his adventures across Japan.

The inspiration came from this character in the sense that the design is simple, but not plain. Minimal but it accomplishes the task at hand. And it has a few secrets along the way.

This project started out as a little thought. I absolutely love the design and appearance of the older Gerstner style toolchests/boxes but for what I do with my guitar repair work the drawers are always a little too small and/or too short and shallow.

However I love the traditional Japanese style toolboxes as well. But I wanted something that had some drawers for a slight western style touch.

I wanted a box that combined what I love about several different things. The dimensions are very close to the standard Gerstner style chest. But with minimalist Japanese inspired aesthetics, design, and tailored for a more versatile toolset. I needed it to be able to carry my furniture making set as well as my guitar/violin repair tools when I need it to. Some of my luthier tools are also some basic tools for working metal when I need to make a tool for the odd job.

So to summarize this chest is a modern Japanese minimal machinist luthier’s woodworking tool box. Try saying that 10 times fast haha!

The wood choice was influenced primarily by the front panel. I picked up the piece from my local hardwood store for a few dollars. I think it’s just mahogany with some really extreme figure to it. I would’ve liked to see the full piece it came from but overall I am happy with how it turned out. It’s really tough to see the figure in the video but the pics should show some of the interesting grain patterns or lack thereof. Pretty interesting piece.

What I’m really sad about is that I had MANY more pictures of the build process but alas my phone died in an unfortunate concrete accident and I was unable to recover the majority of my progress pics.

The first major thing to do was join the back to the sides, this was my first attempt at doing finger joints by hand, I did have to fill alot of larger gaps, but as with all things practice is what is needed to improve.

I had planned on using some 1/2” Ash for the body wood, a very wise woodworker friend advised me to use a wood like Alder for the panels. I took his advice and I’m glad I did. The box itself is not nearly the same weight as the already mentioned Gerstner style chests. The lack of hardware I’m sure contributes to that but I think that using red alder for everything save the side runners and the front panel is the primary reason for this. My friend is a wise man in this manner.

A little note on the finger pulls. Instead of the metal style I simply canted the inside at about a 45-50’ angle facing towards the inside of the drawer, so in essence the angle creates a finger pull inside the gap.

Below is a little photo blurb of the pics that I had saved of the build process before my phone bit the concrete dust of death.

Anyway, thanks for reading, this box will serve me well for a long time I hope.



10 comments so far

View builtinbkyn's profile


3027 posts in 2018 days

#1 posted 03-27-2017 03:27 AM

Great tool box and nice video. It’s very different and if a tool box can be fun, this one is it.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View JohnPM's profile


14 posts in 1541 days

#2 posted 03-27-2017 01:22 PM

Very cool.

View swirt's profile


6183 posts in 4050 days

#3 posted 03-27-2017 01:45 PM

I really like your garden gate lock for the top. Quite clever design on the sliding top overall. I may have to borrow your design. I thought for sure after seeing that, that the side rails (where the strap is attached) would slide up when you lift the strap and lock the drawers and unlock when you set it down.

Very impressive that your wooden slide drawers can open so smoothly by pulling on the side rather than the middle. That doesn’t usually work out so well.

I really enjoyed your toolbox. Thank you for sharing.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Marcial's profile


208 posts in 1623 days

#4 posted 03-27-2017 02:29 PM

Imitation is the best acknowledgment- swallow drawers and not having to deal with a hinge for the well part are all design features that will make it into my toolbox when I get around to it. I also like the leather strap and the overall design. Very Wabi-Sabi.

View bushmaster's profile


4125 posts in 3360 days

#5 posted 03-27-2017 02:30 PM

Read and watched the whole presentation. Very interesting and great ideas.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3944 days

#6 posted 03-27-2017 04:19 PM

This is a very nice tool box. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Woodknack's profile


13557 posts in 3458 days

#7 posted 03-28-2017 02:07 AM

That is a unique and interesting toolbox and I love the wood combination

-- Rick M,

View Lemongrasspicker's profile


123 posts in 1574 days

#8 posted 03-31-2017 01:42 PM

Thanks for the kind words gentlemen! I appreciate you taking the time to look at the project.


View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4672 days

#9 posted 03-13-2018 08:36 PM

Love the grain, and awesome post

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View Billy Hernandez Jr's profile

Billy Hernandez Jr

44 posts in 3386 days

#10 posted 04-18-2018 07:44 AM

That’s pretty darn cool and I love Zatoichi, he is the best!

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