View Full Version : my tool boxes

harry strasil
08-31-2003, 3:20 AM
Don't know if anyone will be interested in these, but these are the 3 tool boxes I keep my tools in when I demonstrate at living history and steam shows, the reason for 3 boxes is they are easy to move around. The boxes were all made with the tools in them out of packing crate material that would have otherwise gone to the dump. The marquetry in the lids was all shaped with hand tools except the last and largest one, I got in a hurry on that one.
I have also included a shaker style table I made for a preacher that I liked real well, It is made of spalted maple and walnut, the inlay is walnut, red oak and mulberry and is all hand routed and sized.

Terry Quiram
08-31-2003, 8:33 AM
Outstanding!!!!! How big are the boxes? Does it take 2 men and a boy to move one?

harry strasil
08-31-2003, 11:26 AM
Terry, the boxes are about 30 inches long. Box no.2 was made to accomadate an all wood jointer, and is the heaviest of the 3, it has 4 lift out trays in the top and the bottom 2/3 is packed with wood planes. Box no.3 is an odds and ends box and was made longer to accomadate 2 very old Disston saws I was fortunate to find. The oldest just has Henry Disston hand stamped in an arc on the blade, these saws are longer than the modern versions and they needed protecting, all of my saws have a wooden blade protector on them at all times except when in use. 1 person can pick this box up easily as it is the lightest of the 3.
I made a 2 wheel cart complete with wooden wheels to move these around and into places. These boxes have permanent residence in a trailer that is 5 by 12 except when in use. Its a portable wood shop. ready to be hooked up and go.

The box pictured below was my first portable shop, I made a 1/2 size wooden wheeled farm wagon to carry this one around in, I used aluminum channel iron ramps to back it into the back of my suburban.
It takes 4 men to carry it around, it is 4 foot long, 19 in wide and 21 inches tall, I think. It is in permanent residence in my basement now. I have pictures of the things in each drawer laid out on a table, but the pics take up to much room for here. The space below the bottom drawer is a storage area for the broad axes, slicks and other large timber framing tools.

Thanks for the compliment Terry.


Marc Hills
09-01-2003, 6:27 AM
Beautiful work, irnsrgn. Your boxes should be included in the next edition of Jim Tolpin's Toolbox book! I'm particularly fond on the box in your second picture.

With the possible exception of a workbench (I'm biased, I'm finishing mine up now), a toolbox has to be about the most personally satisfying project a woodworker can do.

I also admire your reuse of the crate wood and your exclusive use of hand tools on many of your projects.

How about a few more pictures? I'd love to see your tool collection, and also that two wheeled cart you mentioned.

Terry: I had the same reaction when I first started seeing pictures of those old tool chests. Load them up with some old metal joiners and whoa boy, where's the pallet lifter?!

harry strasil
09-02-2003, 8:53 PM
Marc, here is the 2 wheel cart pic as per your request. Also a view inside the shop trailer, the open space is where the cart resides.


Jerry Crawford
09-02-2003, 11:23 PM
Marc, here is the 2 wheel cart pic as per your request. Also a view inside the shop trailer, the open space is where the cart resides.


I echo Marcs laud - Beautiful, irnsrgn. That bench design is a piece of work I intend to copy for my use. Is it all dovetailed and pins or is there some iron in that front apron (I don't mean the pinch dogs :p )?

I'm the resident novice at Friendship Indiana where the NMLRA Club holds its black powder shoots twice a year. I'd love to show up in the Primitive area and set that up for the week to do gun making. Anyway - a nice piece of work.

Marc Hills
09-02-2003, 11:46 PM

Oh, now that cart is just sweet. I have no idea if it is based on a traditional design, but it sure comes across as authentic. Do you have a set of knickers, suspenders and a white shirt to complete the package? Wheeling up your old tools for your living history demonstrations must create quite an impression.

St. Roy of Underhill would be proud.

harry strasil
09-03-2003, 1:40 AM
Jerry, the workbench legs are dovetailed to the top on both ends with a 3/4 peg for security,the feet and the stretcher are mortise and tenon and pegged. The top and other end leg are basswood, 4 inches thick and 12 inches wide. the leg on this end , the stretcher and feet are ash, the apron is oak with (6) 3/8 by 3 in woodscrews to hold it on and it is loose pegged to the top, no glue is used it will all come apart and there is no looseness in the sliding dovetails. (yet) I used basswood for the top because it was available and kiln dried and he ran it thru his planer all for $20 and it is light to move around, the top is full of holes for the bench dogs too. There is an old style bench vise on the other end. It has the stability for chiseling on top of. I slide it out onto the cart and then upend it from there to set up.

the cart is almost all oak with mortise and tenon and dovetail construction on the main frame, the top boards are from a pallet and are nailed on. The wheels are of oak with a shrunk on tyre and are 16 inches in diameter.

I had fun wheeling all the stuff into the Holiday Inn Convention Center Ball room 2 years ago when I demoed for the Midwest Tool Collectors Association. I got some strange stares from lots of people.

Most people when I demonstrate don't give the setup a second look when I am demoing, just a bunch of old junk to them. But the ones who do stop and look and ask questions make it worth while. and occasionally a real old timer will set and watch for hours. YOu will usually learn something about tool use from them, they usually did this kind of work and are just waiting for you to make a mistake in identifing a tool or misusing it. I just love it when the power tool people come along and try to put me and my tools down, I have been fortunate in being able to embarass some of the testier ones in front of a crowd, they don't like chewing on their own shoes. And yes, I do occasionally get into period clothes including glasses.

a better view of the bench is attached. This was on a waxed tile floor and the bench seemed like it was on skate wheels. the bench is 5 ft long and about 32 inches high. there is a table and stands for the boxes and a rack for the bow and frame saws that all come apart so they will fit in the trailer.

harry strasil
09-03-2003, 2:07 AM
I forgot to mention the hilarious part of demoing with these tool boxes. the LADIES. They walk up look at the tool boxes and start to really get on my case. " Get them filthy tools out of them blanket chests before you ruin them, what are you some kind of idiot", and the response brings an immediate laugh attack from me, which only infuriates them more.

harry strasil
09-06-2003, 9:40 PM
This post is for Jerry Crawford as I could not email you. I was set up at a steam show today and took some pictures of the bench for you.