Boxguy Channels Roy Underhill

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Project by Boxguy posted 05-04-2012 10:23 AM 10666 views 27 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As Lumber Jocks many of you have seen Roy Underhill’s PBS TV show “The Woodwright’s Shop.” Each show starts out with Roy carrying his tool box on a city street and making his way to his shop where he sets down his well-worn tool box on a bench. So I thought I would adapt his tool box concept in a format that I could fit behind the seats of my pickup truck.

This tool box has a central handle, with three sides that are set at a 22 1/2 degree angle and one side that is set at a 90 degree angle. Putting the 90 degree side against your leg makes it easier to carry especially when it is filled with heavy tools. The elongated handle hole lets you slide your hand back and forth in the handle to balance the weight of the load of tools.

It is held together with no metal fasteners. The secret is a sliding dovetail at each of the two outwardly angled ends. The more the weight pulls down on the handle the more tightly the handle is wedged into the box. View five shows the sliding dovetail joint.

The bottom is set firmly into a dado that runs around the inside of the box. Masonite works well here. The corners are glued and then cross splined to reinforce the joints. Assembly is a bit tricky since you start the ends in their sliding dado and then slide in the bottom board, but the bottom doesn’t fit until you drive down the handle to pull the ends inwardly.

My first versions were oak with walnut handle boards. They were beautiful, but really too heavy for most people. The ones pictured here have painted Baltic birch plywood sides. One center board is mahogany the other is cherry.

I found an unexpected market for these. Local weavers like to set them next to their looms for storing bobbins, scissors, and shuttles. Knitters keep skeens of yarn, scissors, and needles in them. Some customers love them as garden totes. At home, I have this one that holds plumbing tools and another filled with electrical tools. If you show up at a Habitat build with your tools in one of these, you immediately get street cred for wood working.

As always thanks for looking and a special thanks to all of you who have taken time to add comments and suggestions.

This is the jig used to cut the sides.

This is the site that explains the process.

It is like building a tray with a sliding miter joint in the middle of it.

-- Big Al in IN

18 comments so far

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3839 days

#1 posted 05-04-2012 10:27 AM

Now that’s a nice tool box. What angle are the sides set to?

-- JoeyG ~~~

View Boxguy's profile


2900 posts in 3481 days

#2 posted 05-04-2012 10:38 AM


Sides are cut by setting your miter at 22 1/2 degrees, and tilting your saw blade to 40 degrees. The bottom dado is cut at 25 degrees. After the first one, I made a jig to cut both sides without needing to set my miter one way for one end and the opposite way for the other end of the cuts.

-- Big Al in IN

View JoeyG's profile


1275 posts in 3839 days

#3 posted 05-04-2012 10:51 AM

Thanks Al, I would like to see that jig. A lot of possible uses pop into my head. I am going to favorite this. I need a good tool tote to carry around the house when I am fixing things up for my wife and I like the look of this one. I have to say that if mine comes out half as nice as yours, I will be afraid to put any tools in it. LOL

-- JoeyG ~~~

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3520 days

#4 posted 05-04-2012 11:23 AM

Great looking tool box, I would like to see the jig you made as well please post it. Nice work.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4018 days

#5 posted 05-04-2012 12:48 PM

Very nifty toolbox. Handy-Dandy

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 3477 days

#6 posted 05-04-2012 02:29 PM

Street Cred indeed! very nice tote!
Thanks for sharing.
Well done.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View a1Jim's profile


118200 posts in 4791 days

#7 posted 05-04-2012 02:35 PM

Very nice work a real unique design.


View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3438 days

#8 posted 05-04-2012 02:51 PM

Oh, I like this a lot too. I could use half a dozen of them for various projects – not just woodworking! I could keep my glass work tools in one, paper cutting in another, polymer clay in a third and so on. I could then pull out just the tool box for what I am working on, instead of rummaging through a mixed lot. I am not surprized they are popular.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4517 days

#9 posted 05-04-2012 03:18 PM

very neat, good idea with the dovetails, and it really would come in handy for other uses, nice job al…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 3464 days

#10 posted 05-04-2012 03:56 PM

Very nifty toolbox and I would like to see that jig you made if you would show us vary good work love it

-- Nimkee** Joe

View majeagle1's profile


1429 posts in 4710 days

#11 posted 05-04-2012 04:28 PM

Al, this is just fantastic! This by far is the “nicest” looking tote that I have ever seen!
Sleek, unique and totally useful. I agree, I can see why they are popular…..

What are the basic dimensions? and is the inside surface laminate? or what?
I would also like so see the jig you use for thee angles….

This is a favorite for sure…

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3904 days

#12 posted 05-05-2012 01:22 AM

That is a very innovative tool tote. Those compound miter cuts drive me crazy but you did a super job. The dovetail joinery for the handle is ingenious.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3689 days

#13 posted 05-05-2012 01:27 AM

Whew….there for a moment I thought you had painted the pretty one green…I was about to let you have it… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 4079 days

#14 posted 05-05-2012 01:14 PM

“This tool box has a central handle, with three sides that are set at a 22 1/2 degree angle and one side that is set at a 90 degree angle.” Funny, I don’t see any straight side. What did I miss? Anyway, you got a great design with the dovetailed handle. I would also like to see the jig that you made.

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 3517 days

#15 posted 05-08-2012 04:43 AM

WOW! I noticed this the other day and didn’t really look at it but after your suggestions I wanted to see your craftsmanship, very good! I have to say that dovetail is quite impressive to say the least. very clean and simple design. but very complex in craftsmanship for sure, kudos!

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

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