My Wednesday hammer….

This morning I was asking my nephew if he wanted to help me finish the hammer rack I was building. The conversation went something like this:

Nephew: “Do you really need that many hammers?”
Me: “Yes, yes I do!”
Nephew: “This is my Wednesday hammer, this is my….”

He is a funny kid. Might have a point though.

And the glue dries….

It seems I spend more time on this project waiting for glue to dry than on anything else.

Here you can see the tool well before I add the holders for the different pliers and wire cutters.

Need to permanently add the pliers tool well

Need to permanently add the pliers tool well

Despite a frustrating number of measurements and test fits I somehow still had the tools protruding higher than I would like. To drop all the tool heights by another 1/8 th of an inch I ended up cutting a hole through the support base and then gluing in side supports. Grrr.

And this is what going too heavy on the glue looks like

And this is what going too heavy on the glue looks like

I guess I went heavy on the glue here. Once it dries I am scraping the excess and adding more support pieces – so this first round of gluing was fairly fast and dirty.

My grandfathers tool chest – right side test fit

Front view

Front view

So the test fit is a big load off. Everything seems to fit exactly as expected. Not looking forward to making all the little dividers and boxes for the left side of the tool chest.

Right side test fit
Right side test fit

Contents of the box as things stand now only have 22 things. I decided to not pack so much into the toolbox. It contains fewer tools but I can carry it farther. Right now the box contains:

1. Folding wood ruler

2. Zippo lighter

3. Razor knife

4. Back saw – crosscut

5. 12oz hammer

6. Impact hammer

7. Small lineman’s dike

8. Wire cutters

9. Needle nose pliers

10. Locking pliers

11. Two 1 inch chisels

12. 1/4 inch chisel

13. 6 inch pry bar

14. Try square

15. Speed square

16. Adjustable square

17. Coping saw

18. Hack saw

19. Panel saw – rip

20. Panel saw – crosscut

21. Metal tape measurer

22. Wrecking bar

There are a whole pile of other tools I still need to make holders for – but that is what is in the box so far. Now that I have the tool wells glued up I can check clearance and make the mounts for the lid mounted level.

Restocking my grandfathers tool chest

So one of the projects that has gotten starved for time lately is working on my grandfathers tool box. My father was, among other things, a carpenter. He worked pretty much right up until he went into the hospital and unfortunately the tools he had at his last job site were “lost”. So when my father recently gave me all of my grandfathers tools that he had it was an interesting collection. The centerpiece of which was two of my grandfathers old toolboxes – including his large carpenters tool box.

Largely empty of tools – the toolbox still had the original wooden dividers my grandfather had made and was filled with an odd assortment of tools (e.g. braces, bits, a crow bar). Now that my dad is retired he also gave me some of his tools and I decided to make new dividers combined with the tools I had gotten from my father re-stock the toolbox.

After taking the dividers in and out of the tool box a dozen times to confirm fit after each modification I decided to make a scale cardboard version of the sides of the toolbox so I could work on the toolbox like one of the sides was removed. Below you can see the tools lid out for test fitting.

Cardboard prototype to test layout

Cardboard prototype to test layout

In case you are wondering why it is so much work to just stuff a tool box – maybe it would help to understand the requirements. The toolbox is 32 inches by 9 inches and eleven inches tall at its peak. The top is angled so it is not quite as large as that would make it sound. My goal is to be able to pick the toolbox up and comfortably carry it with one hand. So I am putting an absolute limit of 50lbs on its weight when full of tools. I would also like to be able to get at commonly used items without having to move another tool, or at worst having only to move one other tool.

Here is what I have in the toolbox so far…

  1. 2 pannel saws – one cross cut and one rip
  2. Backsaw – dovetail saw filed crosscut
  3. A hacksaw
  4. A coping saw
  5. A pad saw
  6. Crowbar
  7. Cats paw (small pyrbar)
  8. Tiny cats paw
  9. Try square
  10. Speed square
  11. Adjustable square
  12. Framing square (leg of which sticks up out of box)
  13. Large razor blade knife (with extra blades)
  14. Several small razorblade pen knives (with extra blades)
  15. Marking knife (for dovetails)
  16. Carpenters pencils
  17. Folding carpenters ruler
  18. Tape measure
  19. 12 inch steel – cork backed ruler
  20. Zippo lighter
  21. Pencils
  22. Notepad
  23. Calculator
  24. Plum-bob
  25. Needle files
  26. Level
  27. Wallet for extra plane blades and extra blades for the different planes
  28. 2 1” chisels and 1 1/4 inch “beater” chisel
  29. Angled marking gauge
  30. Combination spoke-shave (round and flat)
  31. Sharpening honing stone
  32. Small bottle of honing oil
  33. Hand scrapers in leather envelope
  34. Small bull nose plane

That sounds like a lot but the crowbar and cats paws go in the small saw till at the back of the box, and the right front half of the box forms an open tool well that got filled with specialty holders. So things can get packed fairly tight and yet be easy to get out without tools banging together.

I still need to finish holders but I know where the following tools will go in the box

  1. Diamond needle files
  2. Collection of dentil picks
  3. Assortment of small sandpaper squares
  4. Telescoping mirror
  5. Telescoping magnet
  6. String level
  7. Plastic impact mallet (for chisels, and “persuading” things)
  8. Hammer
  9. Low angle Jack plane
  10. Skew block plane
  11. Small Rabbet plane
  12. Screwdriver for plane adjustment
  13. Tiny brass hammer for blade adjustment
  14. A Stanley 60 1/2 adjustable mouth block plane
  15. Needle nose pliers
  16. Lineman’s “dikes”
  17. Small wire cutters
  18. Locking pliers
  19. Chalk snap-line

Even with all that there is still some room to work with. My problem is that I still need to pack in the rest of these tools / items.

  1. Torpedo level
  2. Small hand mirror
  3. Several neodymium magnets
  4. Several 1 and 3 inch C clamps
  5. String for line level and plumb bob.
  6. Several bevel edge socket chisels for dovetails
  7. Extra blades for coping saw and hack saw
  8. Glass cutter
  9. Push drill and bits
  10. Set of good screwdrivers
  11. Earplugs
  12. Eye protection
  13. Rag
  14. Leather work gloves
  15. Small thing of super glue
  16. Needles and thread
  17. Simple first aid – band aids, antiseptic cream, ibuprofen packet

My main problem, I think, will be figuring out how to get the screwdrivers in the right side tool well – and easily accessible – without making it hard to access they other tools.

Below you can see me laying out my planes. They will sit in a small wooden pull out drawer. The pulls out portions are going to be made from cherry – while inside the box I am using mostly poplar and a decent grade of plywood.

Planning layout for plane pullout box

Planning layout for plane pullout box

The planes above are a Lie-Nielsen sckew block plane, low angled jack plane, and rabbet plane. The jack is amazing in that it can be set for rough or finishing work. I have a spare blade for it and also got a 90 degree scraper blade to be able to use it for finishing. The skew block plane is useful for both a block plane or for use in dadoes. I have a set of side rabbet planes and a place reserved for them – but I am still on the fence about adding them.

Left side storage area

Left side storage area

Here you can see the left side of the box. There is a small well area on the bottom of the box. That is where the oil-stone and plumb bob will live. This is where I am thinking the chalk snap line will go. Along the side of the space is a pocket for the scrapers and a bin for pencils and pens. The reason there is about a quarter inch of dead space along the side of the toolbox is that is where one leg of the large framing square sits when in the box. It is a bit of a hack but I plan on sewing an envelope to hold an assortment of pieces of sand paper. That envelope will sit on top of the carpenters square in this dead space.

The drawer with the plane box sits atop the left side storage well. I should also be able to have another box atop that and then room for a smaller pull out tool drawer at the top of the box. The layout was bugging me so I went and made a cardboard mockup of that top drawer. That way I can build it and the plane drawer and then make the center box to fit. Not quite optimal but I am fairly sure I will be able to fit the chisels I want – as well as the sewing kid and some other tools in those center boxes.

Cardboard prototype of left side top lift out tool drawer

Cardboard prototype of left side top lift out tool drawer

Here is what the right side tool well looks like – if the back of the toolbox were removed. This has proved the most useful attribute of the cardboard mockups of the box’s sides – being able to visualize the insides as if I had x-ray vision. It is kind of like making simple test cases when developing software.

Right side tool well and storage area

Right side tool well and storage area

So I am currently laying out a small set of holders to go next to the chisels, but on the other side of the coping saw. Should look something like the picture below. I am still trying to figure out if I want to have dividers between the tools. On the one hand it would keep the tools from rattling around but it would mean I would have to have *those* tools and could not swap tools in and out as needed. Still on the fence about how to do this.

Planning layout for new tool well in right side tool well

Planning layout for new tool well in right side tool well