My Great Grandpa's Toolbox





Introduction: My Great Grandpa's Toolbox

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Every summer we would go over to my Great Grandpa's house out on his ranch and see what cool things he had. Unfortunetly he passed away in August of 2010. He had all these awesome compasses, hammers and all sorts of old tools that were fun to look at. We would really all just take a second and think, " Holy cow, tools have changed so much from 1890's to now". Actually just last week my cruddy cardboard toolbox (not really a toolbox) fell apart and I thought about building another one and, ta da, I was inspired to build an old-fashion toolbox in dedication to my Great Grandpa.

Warning: Tools are dangerous and don't forget to wear safety equipment.

Step 1: Get Your Design Together

I'm pretty sure you can't build this without a design first so this step is the most important of all. You may need more height, width or length than me but you can follow my design if you'd like. This includes an optional set in tray that fits on a notch on the inside of the toolbox. Here is my design. Oh, and here are the measurements:

Length = 30 in
Width   =  11 1/4 in

Long Side:
Length = 30 in
Width = 8 in

Short Side:
Tallest height = 15 in
Smaller height = 11 1/4 in
Width = 11 1/4 in

Set in tray:
Length = 29 7/8''
Width = 9 3/8''
Height = 2 1/2''

Step 2: Materials


1  2"x12"x16' Southern Yellow Pine (treated)
1  1"x12"x6'    Knotty Alder
(I didn't have the 1''x12'' so I used my bisciut jointer to make 2 boards equal the width I needed)
1  1 1/8"x32''     Stainless steel dowel
A box of 2 1/4'' Stainless steel screws
Wood glue
Wood stain
Clear coat
Crown staples


Skill saw
Miter saw
Table saw
Crown stapler
Screw gun
1'' butterfly bit
1 3/8 drill bit


Surface planer
Biscuit jointer
Good attitude

Step 3: Cut and Plane Wood

Cut your material to the design lengths and prepare for assembly. The option of using your surface planer here will result in a more accurate finished product later. 

Step 4: Notch for Tray

Cut a notch with a table saw (by adjusting the height of the blade) on the long sides of the toolbox like the pic. below and then the one after that. The first cut is 2 1/2'' deep. The second is 1/4''.

Step 5: Glue and Screw Pieces Together

Apply wood glue to the parts of the wood where it is necessary then screw them together.

Step 6: Cutting and Inserting Handle

In this step you need your stainless steel dowel. You will be inserting it through a hole on both sides of the toolbox. Pics. below will show you how.

Step 7: Routing the Edges

I love the end result of a router. Routing the ends of the toolbox made it great. I suggest that you should too.

Step 8: End Caps

End caps have to go on the end of the tool box where the excess pipe is to make it look good.
You can make these out of scrap Knotty Alder if you have some or just out of any other board. The dimensions of this are up to you. 

Step 9: The Set in Tray

I love this part of the project. The tray looks so good when it's inside of the toolbox. The measurements for your tray depend on what size you made your toolbox. This includesthe handle that was made from Knotty Alder. Again, you may follow my design.

Note: The length of the short sides of the tray will determine the width of your base.

Note: The board with the handle cut into it is placed of center becaude of the fact that there is not enough space to put your hand in and pull the tray out.

Step 10: Sanding, Staining, and Clear Coating

.This the last step for assembly. Sand the parts where you want it to be sanded. Stain and polyurathane the entire toolbox, wait 2 hours and then it's complete.

Step 11: Load Your Tools Up

You're done. Now load your tools up in your old-fashion toolbox.



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    This is perfect. I've been making some old fashioned tools, mortising gauge, rabbet plane, draw knife, etc. thus will be a good place to store them.

    I've been mulling over making one or more toolboxes similar to this pattern - I still have one like this I made in Grade 7 wood shop class. My thought was to make the box a bit larger and beef up the joints, etc. This is a very nice project, and I thank you for sharing. Gotta get busy and go make some sawdust....

    Love it. When I was helping to move my grandmother into a retirement village I was asked to do grandfathers workshop. His toolbox was a lot like this, but the handle has swing out end caps and the bar was threaded on one end. Took me a while to realise that it was for a bar clamp. One more tool, one less thing to carry.

    Now that's a really neat & inventive addition to what is already a very nicely executed and useful project. I was going to build a couple of these toolboxes, slightly customized for particular classes of tools (e.g. electrical, plumbing, general woodworing, etc., and now I'll add the bar clamp modification to each one.. I was also going to add a reinforced section in one corner to allow mounting a small clamp-on vise - this could also be made in such a way as to augment that. Many thanks for sharing.

    Oh! I almost forgot. I would love to see an Instructable or some pictures of your toolbox when it's finished.

    I can't believe that no one has commented on this, but I wanted to say that is a very nice toolbox you've made there. Nothing quite like making something yourself, and exercising some craftsmanship to honor a Grandfather.

    I'll be thinking of this and likely referring back when I finally get started on my own tool box.


    Thank you so much! A few people have commented on the intro page I believe. He was a great guy and I was glad that I could build something in honor of him.

    Forgot to mention in my last comment that my box got extremely heavy as I kept adding tools. I ended up using a piece of seatbelt from a junk car to make a shoulder strap. It ruins the "old" look but makes it much more comfortable. I also added two strips of rubber from a floor mat to the at each end....screwed into the sides so the box sat on the rubber strips. I took mine into customers houses and this way I could set it on hardwood floors or counters without worry of scratching it didn't slide around in my truck as much!