Japanese tool box

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Project by MichaelT77 posted 02-23-2022 04:43 PM 777 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m calling this “my interpretation of a Japanese-style toolbox.” From what I’ve seen and read, they’re really just meant to be simple boxes knocked together with minimal joinery. But, I’m always aiming for something that might inspire “Hey, look what Granddad made. I’m going to pick up his old tools, and see what I can make.”

This is made of some old scrap walnut that someone gave me many years ago. I used some of it several years ago to make some small live-edge benches for little grandchildren.

Anyway, I was recently inspired to try this box. It’s really the simple locking mechanism that I found interesting. Those pieces on top are purpleheart. I installed a couple of rails inside to support a sliding till. Also purpleheart.

I handcut dovetails. This is the first time I oversized the pins and tails so they’d stand proud of the corners. Not a great look, but bevelling off the edges with a sharp paring chisel (Buck Bros antique … flea market find) improved the appearance.

It just has tung oil on it. I’ll probably shellac it at a later date.

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

9 comments so far

View recycle1943's profile


7087 posts in 3120 days

#1 posted 02-23-2022 05:12 PM

Michael T, that is beautiful and the proud dovetails are great.
Please don’t shellac it as that would surely change the color. Right now with just the tung oil it has a warm glow, (imho) shellac will not do it any justice. Great Job !

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Andre's profile


5296 posts in 3304 days

#2 posted 02-23-2022 06:14 PM

Very Very Nice! An Walnut to boot:) I usually do the Shellac first, light or dark depending on the wood and color desired to make drain stand out, then pick a finish in regards to box/objects intended purpose or use?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View therealSteveN's profile


10249 posts in 2072 days

#3 posted 02-23-2022 09:21 PM

Nice work, great contrast of the woods. That current finish looks great in the pics I am seeing.

-- Think safe, be safe

View MrWolfe's profile


1980 posts in 1621 days

#4 posted 02-23-2022 09:36 PM

Nice dovetails!
Great job and beautiful results.

View YRTi's profile


52 posts in 171 days

#5 posted 02-24-2022 01:07 AM

It’s very beautiful! Great job!

I’m new to wood working but I know this locking system actually has a name, which is “Itte koi” meaning “Go and Come back!” and it’s a variation of “Kendon – shiki (style)”, the same mechanism as a window frame like pushing a window up first to place the window in the frame. And, a skilled craft man back in the day didn’t directly place the tool box on the ground but they always place something underneath because they believed the tool box represents their skill so they didn’t want to damage the box.

Your box truly represents you have amazing skill!!!!!

-- no name noobie -

View MichaelT77's profile


144 posts in 3610 days

#6 posted 02-24-2022 01:27 AM

YRTi, thank you. That’s high praise.

and thanks for the cultural lesson. I learned something.

-- Michael T, Pittsburgh, PA

View rtbrmb's profile


916 posts in 3886 days

#7 posted 02-24-2022 05:00 AM

Michael – outstanding job on those dovetails I really like the proud look with chamfered edges.

Walnut is always a good choice in material.

Thanks for posting.

Bill in MI

View swirt's profile


7807 posts in 4470 days

#8 posted 02-24-2022 05:48 AM

Looks great. I like the pillowed dove tails.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Peteybadboy's profile


4957 posts in 3447 days

#9 posted 02-24-2022 11:08 AM

Well done!

-- Petey

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