Tool tote - General Butchery

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Blog entry by shawnSK posted 03-07-2020 03:29 PM 748 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I bought the jig saw to make the dinosaur puzzle Christmas gift, I was thinking it will probably be my only power tool. (That and a used cordless drill.) Relatively quiet, good for curves, and can cut boards to size in a pinch.

I chose a tool tote for my first actual woodworking project. I wanted to use joints on this project, and I wanted to use the jig saws strengths. Again, sort of a test of what one can do with just a jig saw. The tote seemed like a good project – its ends are curved, I’ll need to cut boards to length, and I need to cut out some box joints, which the jig saw should handle if I keep them large enough.

I’ll work with pine and poplar, and the joints can be biggish since the board width is 3/4”. I’ll assemble the sides and cut the floor to fit, which may be a challenge. I don’t want to glue it to the bottom, I want it to sit inside the walls. I’m not 100% sure how, but will sort it out if I can get the rest of the tool tote together. The floor seems like a long ways away right now. I’ll probably nail it a bit, nothing monstrous, just some finishing nails for a tiny bit more downward holding power.


Mistake #1

The jig saw is never as agile as I want. It can’t cut a straight line, turn 90 degrees and cut a perpendicular line. I’m not sure why I assumed it could. It can get into the largish box joints, but takes a number of slices to get most of the waste out. And most of the waste falls to the floor as sharp triangles which I constantly step on while finishing that cut.

It’s obvious now, the chisel is going to have to do most of the work here to refine the joints. So I take a detour into sharpening. I have a 1000/4000 waterstone from last year, but never really got the hang of sharpening. So I read some books, watch some videos, and wade through page after page of conflicting opinions. Then I find The English Woodworkers Let’s Get Sharp video series and am about to buy it. But it seems oddly familiar. Oh, right. I bought this a couple years ago when I first wanted to try woodworking and never quite took off. Great! I already have access to this series. Okay, that puts my sharpening skills in a better position, but still on shaky ground. I eventually get a decent edge on my chisel. Back to the tool tote!

Mistake #2

Now my chisel can slice through paper, but since I didn’t know I’d be chiselling these box joints out, I didn’t mark any registration lines. I have nothing to guide myself or the chisels. I do my best to score the wood with a marking gauge, but half of the board side has been removed, so it’s sketchy at best. But now I have a starting point.

I transfer the cut joints onto the end of the other board, much more carefully marking them this time.

I have some luck, but the board often tilts in the Workmate’s clamp as I chisel. I only have score marks on one side of the board, and get some tear out on the other. I’m now feeling pretty good I didn’t spring for the expensive wood. This poplar doesn’t deserve the butchery I put it through. I can vaguely tell if the joints are square (none of my squares fit well in the 3/4” hole) but am not great at correcting them if they aren’t.

Eventually though, I can push the sides together and get a general box shape. Victory, I think.

Mistake #3

I cut relief cuts on an end piece to make a bowling pin curve.

But the cuts are too deep and I run the jig saw too fast. My nice curves look like hexagons. I successfully made a dinosaur puzzle with tighter curves a few months ago… why is this so messed up now? No idea. I use a rasp to bring shape back to the wood and smooth over the deep saw lines every inch or so in the side of the curve. This tool box is going to look like an 8 year old built it. I also jig saw out a space for the handle, using a drill hole trick I saw once. Jig sawing a dozen little cuts in the tiny space takes forever.

I smooth it up a bit and call it a night.

-- Shawn, Saskatchewan

6 comments so far

View Tony_S's profile


1538 posts in 4296 days

#1 posted 03-07-2020 09:23 PM

Don’t be so hard on yourself. For someone with basically no woodworking experience, a jigsaw, chisels and a rasp….it looks pretty damn fine.
There’s people on this board with fully outfitted shops that struggle with what you just did.

-- “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4217 days

#2 posted 03-08-2020 05:15 PM

Great tool to start with so useful, also a wonderful first project, practice will greatly improve your skills and you will see what will work for your. Your skills and confidence will improve with each project. Oh and you will learn that sanding will become your new friend. Get a sound system.

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View shawnSK's profile


39 posts in 573 days

#3 posted 03-08-2020 06:14 PM

Thanks guys. It’s been a back and forth experience. Seeing the box holds together despite the rough joints gave me some confidence. I worked better on the second end too – drilled 4 holes for the jig saw to connect instead of one for the handle hole and also clearly marked the chisel lines. That side felt more like I knew what I was doing.

-- Shawn, Saskatchewan

View LeeRoyMan's profile


2064 posts in 940 days

#4 posted 03-09-2020 01:35 PM

Thanks guys. It s been a back and forth experience. Seeing the box holds together despite the rough joints gave me some confidence. It worked better on the second end too – drilled 4 holes for the jig saw to connect instead of one for the handle hole and also clearly marked the chisel lines. That side felt more like I knew what I was doing.
- shawnSK

You see, in your own words, you can see that you have already improved with your gaining of experience.
We all started out the same. You’ll get there.

View garethmontreal's profile


134 posts in 560 days

#5 posted 03-12-2020 08:12 AM

Hey man it looks pretty good to me and more importantly it does the job you made it to do. Mistakes happen and as long as you don’t repeat the exact same mistake over again right away your improving. Also as a fellow Canadian messing around with tools on his living room all winter I know it’s not exactly the ideal working environment.

-- it never ends well if you start by unscrewing the split nuts

View retired_guru's profile


838 posts in 2573 days

#6 posted 04-17-2020 03:55 PM

You’ve impressed me! An ambitious build for what tools you had on hand, and you nailed it. Keep in mind there are different levels of accomplishment when comparing shop or tool grade construction and building to furniture grade results. This is a tool caddy. It’s built strong. It’s functional. And you learned techniques in its construction. Win-win, all around.

-- -- Paul: jack of all dreams, a master none.

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