Picture of My Great Grandpa's Toolbox

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.

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Step 1: Get your design together

Picture of Get your design together
toolbox pic 2.jpg
Toolbox pic 1.jpg
toolbox pic 4.jpg
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

Picture of 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
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Trike Lover2 months ago

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....

Grim Man11 months ago
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.

Dr. Pepper (author) 2 years ago
Oh! I almost forgot. I would love to see an Instructable or some pictures of your toolbox when it's finished.
HunterBond2 years ago
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.

Dr. Pepper (author)  HunterBond2 years ago
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.
twhitfield3 years ago
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!
Dr. Pepper (author)  twhitfield3 years ago
Cool! My toolbox is at least 50 lbs. I'm strong so I can move it around but not a very long distance.
yeah...I carried mine with just the handle for a while but I found it was more a matter of being off balance than too heavy. All the weight in one hand and on one side. Give it a try! It's easy to do and if you don't like it it's easy to undo.
twhitfield3 years ago
A suggestion for a different handle...I made a box similar to this years ago and my grandfather suggested a 2' pipe clamp for the handle. My box was sized to fit a two foot level. The pipe clamp was sturdy and always there. Didn't need it often but there were times when I was glad I had it!
Dr. Pepper (author)  twhitfield3 years ago
Thanks! I really love your suggestion and might make another.
sunshiine3 years ago
I remember the contest. I though you had won 1st prize on this?
Dr. Pepper (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
Nope, didn't win anything. :( I was really disappointed.
Chumlee3 years ago
love it, gonna make it with my grandad :)
Dr. Pepper (author)  Chumlee3 years ago
Thanks! I hope it works out well! Oh, and make the tray a little smaller than the measurements if you are going to stain it and clear coat it.
making it today, the only thing is how thick wood like deph ?? an is it heavy??
its much bigger than i expected !! :D
Dr. Pepper (author)  Chumlee3 years ago
Cool. Sorry I couldn't respond quickly because I was on vacation. What do you mean by wood depth? It is heavy. Yeah it's pretty large.
thatss all right mate, ive made it an it looks great.... i did make mine abit smaller tho an i did the handle slightly different (i ran out of wood, lol ) really good project tho an i enjoyed making it :)
Dr. Pepper (author)  Chumlee3 years ago
Thanks, can you show some pics?
certainly... mine was made on the cheap and havnt got round to varnishing it yet!!
Tupulov3 years ago
Well illustrated with complete measurements. WELL DONE!
Dr. Pepper (author)  Tupulov3 years ago
Thanks! Was there anything that I could have improved?
good looking. i thought the picture was an oldie tool box that u were gonna restore and ruin.
Dr. Pepper (author)  unaffiliatedperson4 years ago
Oh, cool. Thanks.
Grand-Pa4 years ago
Great job, nice looking box.Just a word from the wise. "P P E"
I noticed in a couple of pics the lack of personal protective equipment.
For instance concrete, bare feet and power tools don't mix well. If your tool would have had a short in it you just might have been joining your great grandpa.
I also noticed the guard was missing on your table saw. Saws do not know the difference between a piece of wood and your fingers. (BTW I am guilty of that one my self). My Dad had a chunk of his thumb chewed out by a saw once.
I couldn't see if you had safety glasses or hearing protection on so I'll trust you on that one. Just remember "SAFETY FIRST"!!
Still like your box though :)
Dr. Pepper (author)  Grand-Pa4 years ago
Great job. Love the classic look.
Dr. Pepper (author)  cdawisconsin4 years ago
The only thing I'd say is that rather than using a bit of scrap for the end caps for the dowel, you could put a hole through the dowel pre-insertion and then run a screw down through the end piece and into that hole. That would keep it in place AND stop it from rotating.

Dr. Pepper (author)  RDProgrammer4 years ago
Thank you. Very nice to know for next time!
tbcross4 years ago
really cool my pa had some like this and I love them thanks for the pattern, I think there may be some of these under the christmas tree next year!!
Dr. Pepper (author)  tbcross4 years ago
Creativeman4 years ago
Just saw your 'ible....front page, no less! Great instructable, and nice to remember your grandfather. Reminded me of the box I made 25 years ago, but which received little use...had a few jobs then where I needed it. So I dusted it off, took pictures and it's pretty similar, wouldn't you say? I like your finish much better, and I have built in storage for tri-square, pencils, drill bits, saws, and hand screw driver. For the handle, I used a piece of hardwood cut to about 1.25 inches square.
Dr. Pepper (author)  Creativeman4 years ago
Thanks! I like your toolbox too!
Techgirl-524 years ago
Sweet Toolbox! It looks very impressive! I'm glad it's a featured Instructable! :D
And the dedication to your Great Grandfather? Totally cool!
Dr. Pepper (author)  Techgirl-524 years ago
glorybe4 years ago
That box looks nice and sturdy as well.
If you want something even a bit more antique you might build another, very similar box called a walking tool box. The edge of one side is curved in such a way that the upper leg and hip don't rub against the box when you walk. The long tools, such as hand saws will flex enough to fit in the box.
Dr. Pepper (author)  glorybe4 years ago
Thanks! Nice to know.
GEESE GIRL4 years ago
dr.pepper1234 are you on
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