Tool Tote

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Project by CodyM posted 09-17-2011 03:46 AM 5580 views 12 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Tool tote made similar to Roy Underhill’s infamous tote. Since I don’t have Roy’s book “The Woodwrights Apprentice” this tote is a bit different than the original. The main difference is the size. I made mine 20” long x 10” wide x 5” tall as a smaller size to carry around misc. tools while doing home improvement projects. Another difference is the angle of the sides. In “The Woodwrights Workbook” there is a page that just touches on the general info about the tote, and in it Roy writes that the splay of the sides is 5:3. After laying out the angle and stepping back to look at it, it looked a but to steep so I decreased the angle to 5:2. And since I have been wanting to try my hand at a distressed finish with milk paints I decided to try it on this project. So the entire tote is made of alder, 1/2” on the sides, ends, and bottom, and 7/8” for the center partition. Corners are joined with a rabbeted butt joint reinforced with 1 1/2” 15ga. finish nails. The bottom is also set into rabbets in the sides. The center partition is set into dadoes in the ends and bottom and once again finish nails are added. This little project turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. The compound angles combined with the rabbets made for some choice words being used in frustration. Once it was all glued up it was time to add the “distressing.” This included hammer blows, screwdriver thrusts, cut nails thrown, bolts and nuts gouged all around, and a few slides down the driveway to give it the illusion of age. I also sanded all the corners and the edges in certain spots very aggressively to give them a nice rounded over look. Then onto the milk paint. I used barn red and soldier blue, both of the Old Fashioned brand. First a coat of the barn red, and once dry I added more distressing and sanded a bit. Then a coat of soldier blue with more sanding and distressing to let some of the red show through in certain spots. Once that was done I wiped on some oil based stain to give it a grimy and dirty look. Then in order to protect all the abuse I just inflicted on the tote I applied two coats of gel polyurethane. I think the antiqued finish turned out so well that I am now looking for another project that would look good finished that way. Thanks for looking!

-- Cody - Salt Lake City, UT

15 comments so far

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 5072 days

#1 posted 09-17-2011 06:23 AM

Nice work Cody. I think you did old Roy proud!

#2 posted 09-17-2011 08:33 AM

Interesting design,Cody !


View Brett's profile


960 posts in 4256 days

#3 posted 09-17-2011 09:25 AM

Great job! It looks fantastic. I really like how the distressed look turned out. I would like to be able to get nice results like you did.

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View clieb91's profile


4267 posts in 5432 days

#4 posted 09-17-2011 01:28 PM

Cody, looks nice and used. Nice work on the finish.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View woodzy's profile


418 posts in 4176 days

#5 posted 09-17-2011 02:10 PM

Nice work. I need one of these.

-- Anthony

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4363 days

#6 posted 09-17-2011 02:12 PM

It looks like an antique, Cody; nice job.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bearpaw's profile


272 posts in 5217 days

#7 posted 09-17-2011 03:23 PM

Nice job. Liked the distressed finish. On a smaller scale this can also be used as a center piece on a table with fruit in it.

-- "When we build, let us think we build forever." John Ruskin

View itsmic's profile


1419 posts in 4615 days

#8 posted 09-17-2011 03:49 PM

Very Nice Tote, the design is a good one to use, Your execution of construction and finsish are execelent, it looks like a very old well built, well designed tote, thanks for sharing

-- It's Mic Keep working and sharing

View bob62's profile


160 posts in 4114 days

#9 posted 09-17-2011 04:16 PM

Great Finish Cody!

-- Robert, Mississippi,

View Ken90712's profile


18123 posts in 4686 days

#10 posted 09-17-2011 04:46 PM

Well done, I like the old fashion design of this.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Grant Libramento's profile

Grant Libramento

176 posts in 4476 days

#11 posted 09-17-2011 06:54 PM

Very nice. That tote will see many generations of good use.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View ChefHDAN's profile


1890 posts in 4346 days

#12 posted 09-17-2011 07:01 PM

I always love the way some projects get started and so much is learned from the start to the finish. Congrats on a great project, I haven’t had the courage or time lately to attempt the compound angle work you conquered, but one day I’ll take a shot at it, and then I guess I’ll beat the hell out of the project too!!!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View CodyM's profile


49 posts in 4317 days

#13 posted 09-17-2011 09:48 PM

Thanks for all the great comments everyone! It’s always encouraging when other people also think a project turns out nice.

-- Cody - Salt Lake City, UT

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 5230 days

#14 posted 09-19-2011 04:29 AM

Nice job! You certainly got the distressed look. For the life of me, I can’t fathom that people want to take a nice piece of work and then intentionally beat the h* out of it to make it look old and worn out. I just can’t wrap my brain around that! Guess that this is just another case of different strokes for different folks.

-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View MGoBlue7's profile


56 posts in 4299 days

#15 posted 09-20-2011 04:45 PM

I think you just found an old tool tote and took some pictures. ;-)

It looks awesome. Great job Cody, and thanks for the detailed description of the “finishing” process.

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