Carving tools box

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 07-15-2019 02:59 PM 1571 views 1 time favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I needed a box to hold my gouges. EarlS had sent me a box of shorts a while back, so I started digging through it. There were two nice pieces of American Chestnut in there that looked like likely sides. Plus a couple pieces of plywood, some white oak, and a piece of cherry and poplar.

I resawed the 3/4 pieces of chestnut into 3/8-ish pieces, and cut them in half height wise. One had a worm hole close to the end, so I cut that off for the short sides of the box. Then I dovetailed things together and screwed up one set of dovetails, so I trimmed the box a little more and tried again. That, with the piece of plywood in it, made the first piece of the box (the upper tray, in the middle of picture 2, and upside down in picture 4). I didn’t notice the other wormhole you can see in picture 1. If I had, the box probably would’ve only held 5 or 6 tools per layer, and I would’ve needed a third layer.

I cut the second layer of the box to the same dimensions, being careful not to screw up. I used a piece of poplar (resawed to 1/4 thick) for the bottom of that ( rightmost in picture 2, and upside down in picture 5). There’s a little gap on one side of the bottom, but it’s got “room to move,” right?

I cut one piece of oak into quarters (turning quartersawn oak into flatsawn) for use as the tool rests. I cut another piece of oak into eighths and glued strips inside the upper layer so it could nest into the lower layer.

Then the lid. That’s the other half of the poplar with some oak strips around it, then a piece of cherry on top. The lid piston-fits inside the upper layer. The cherry was thicker than I liked, so I sawed about 3/16 off it and saved that for a future project. You can see the finished lid in pictures 1 and 3. The strips on the edges needed little cutouts so they would fit over the oak pieces that sit on top of the tools. With the box nestled together, everything is pretty secure inside the box.

I’ll figure out latches later, but for now an old nylon belt will wrap the pieces and hold them together just fine.

Finish is quick and dirty. I sanded everything on the belt sander using a worn-out 60 grit belt (I’d guesstimate it as equivalent to about 150) and then coated with BLO. I’ll probably shellac things at some point, but for now my gouges are secure and I don’t have to worry about banging them against other tools on my workbench.

Mission accomplished!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

35 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


3309 posts in 3400 days

#1 posted 07-15-2019 03:03 PM

Nice work Dave, looks nice, like the lip for the lid which is a nice touch.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View HokieKen's profile


19055 posts in 2348 days

#2 posted 07-15-2019 03:16 PM

Nice work Dave. The stacking boxes is unique and efficient. I’m surprised you thought of it. ;-))

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View oldrivers's profile


2706 posts in 2776 days

#3 posted 07-15-2019 03:20 PM

That was nice of him to give you the shorts amd you really made good use of them, great storage box, good job Dave.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8181 posts in 4563 days

#4 posted 07-15-2019 03:26 PM

Dave, Looks you gave them a decent home to protect them and now the risk of nicking the blades has lessened substantially! Nice work!

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

View ZAGREB's profile


1276 posts in 2860 days

#5 posted 07-15-2019 03:31 PM

looks great,Dave

-- bambi

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8272 posts in 1792 days

#6 posted 07-15-2019 03:31 PM

Thanks, guys.

The chamfer on the lid was an audible just before putting on the BLO. I looked at it and said, “I’ll ding that edge in no time. Better chamfer it.”

Kenny, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. ;-)

Earl seems to generate lots of shorts. Or scraps that are too small for him to use. Plus he was moving. I’ve got a bunch of even smaller shorts and scraps I’d be happy to pass on to the next guy, so I don’t have to move them to Santa Fe later this year. Not as nice as the stuff I got from Earl, but plenty of interesting grain and woods I wanted to try working with once. Drop a PM if interested.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8272 posts in 1792 days

#7 posted 07-15-2019 03:33 PM

That was the goal, Tony. I’m moving before the end of the year and don’t want to spend all next year sharpening tools that got dinged in the move.

Thanks, Bambi!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Kelster58's profile


759 posts in 1750 days

#8 posted 07-15-2019 03:33 PM

Wow…..looks like another nice project Dave…..GREAT Job!

-- K. Stone “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8272 posts in 1792 days

#9 posted 07-15-2019 03:49 PM

Thanks, Kelster!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrWolfe's profile


1668 posts in 1333 days

#10 posted 07-15-2019 04:04 PM

That looks great Dave.
I like the different layers/trays. That is a great feature. I’ve been making little boxes for my chisels too. Up to number 5 (I had a couple of old beater sets and I bought a few new specialty sets). Its great making tool storage boxes, kind of feels like killing two birds with one stone.
Great job.

update us with more pics when you get some latches put on. I’ve been looking online for some too.

View Phil32's profile


1556 posts in 1113 days

#11 posted 07-15-2019 04:26 PM

Dave – I made a similar box for my carving tools maybe twenty years ago. I have some suggestions for those who may want to make or adapt a similar box.

The box on the left holds three alternating layers plus some knives and a slip stone. The box on right was offered by Pfeil (Swiss Made) hold their Breinz Collection – 25 tools in two layers w/mallet. In both the gouges are held in position by a spacer at the base of the shank. Recesses in the spacer can hold the shanks of gouges in alternating directions. If the spacer is removable, multiple layers can be accommodated with separate spacers for each layer. The bases of the handles are held by shaped spacers.

The spacing of the gouges side to side should allow for grasping the handle (or shank), and the differences in blade width. The box should not be arranged so that each gouge fits only one slot. It should be possible to put the gouges for the current project on the top layer.

As you said, the purpose of this box is to keep the cutting edges from clashing together. It should also provide easy access to your tools as you work.

Final note: It is not “mission accomplished” until you have done a carving on the top of your box. See this proto:

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8272 posts in 1792 days

#12 posted 07-15-2019 05:10 PM

Thanks, MrWolfe.

Phil, I thought about alternating the gouges, and that’s a future possibility. But for now one layer means I have room for future expansion.

As for “mission accomplished,” I’ll be moving 1500 miles before the end of the year. The mission was protecting the tools. I still have to build something for my planes and something else I can’t remember at the moment, so carving the lid will have to wait. It’s not the relaxing retirement I was hoping for, but it’s what I’ve got.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Don W's profile

Don W

20152 posts in 3777 days

#13 posted 07-15-2019 05:40 PM

Excellent job

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Phil32's profile


1556 posts in 1113 days

#14 posted 07-15-2019 06:56 PM

Good luck on your move, Dave.

The big Pfeil box had equal width slots capable of handling the widest gouge. I modified the space where the mallet was, to handle eight narrow gouges in three levels. On my own box I found it easy to put a wider gouge in a slot by turning the blade to vertical. In actual use I prefer to lay my gouges on the bench beside the piece I’m working on, but the box is nearby.


-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8272 posts in 1792 days

#15 posted 07-15-2019 07:15 PM

Thanks, Don.

Thanks, Phil. I didn’t cut all the slots the same in my box, but I figure it’ll be easy enough to replace the oak strips that hold the gouges if I got things totally wrong. They’re just tacked in with a dab of glue on each end. I almost never get things exactly right on the first try.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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