Introduction: Cub Scout Toolbox - Baloo the Builder

About: Jack-of-all trades, master of some. I would probably be much more modest if it wasn't for these delusions of granduer that I suffer from.

One of the core requirements to advance from Bear to Weblos in Cub Scouts is "Baloo the Builder".

In order to complete this requirement the scouts need the complete the following:


  1. Discover which hand tools are the best ones to have in your toolbox. Learn the rules for using these tools safely. Practice with at least four of these tools before beginning a project.
  2. Select, plan, and define the materials for the projects you will complete in requirement.
  3. Assemble you materials, and build one useful project and one fun project using wood.
  4. Apply a finish to one of your wood projects.

In a previous meeting we made and decorated tabletop catapult kits that we used to launch marshmallows and foam balls at scoreboards that the scouts designed. That met the "build a fun project" and "apply a finish" aspects of the achievement. So for this meeting we wanted to focus more on the proper use of the tools and building a useful project.

Step 1: Original Plan

I originally designed the toolbox to be made out of a 3 foot section of lumber.

While I was in the process of getting the materials together to make the toolboxes, I was in the local dollar store and noticed they had a moderate tool selection.

I thought it would be a really fun idea to not only have the scouts make their own tool box, but they would get to keep the tools they used to make their toolbox.

For each kit I was able to get the scouts:

safety glasses

a hand saw

a set of long and short flat head and phillips head screwdrivers

a tape measure

In order to accommodate the hand saw I ended up changing the dimensions of the bottom and side pieces from 10.5 inches to 15 inches

Step 2: Cut List

In order to keep the cost of the kits down I sourced as much of the lumber from the local habitat for humanity restore that I could find to fit the needs of the project.

I was able to get the following materials at the restore:

two 1" x 6" x 8' boards - for use in making the bottom, sides, and ends of the toolbox

two 1" x 2" x 8' boards - for use to make the handles (instead of round dowel I originally intended to use)

For the other two 1" x 6" x 8' boards needed for the toolboxes, I ended up making a trip to the local big box store

The final cost for each toolbox was $9 (Depending on where you can source your lumber from, your results may vary)

$4 for the tools

$5 for the lumber and screws

As you can see from the cut list one of the 8" boards I got from the restore was actually 4" short of 8', but thanks to a brilliant program I found at that lets you plan the best way to cut your parts out of the materials you have, I had no problem getting all my pieces laid out and cut properly in order to make the eight toolboxes.

Step 3: Cutting the Wood to Size

My tablesaw fence will only allow for a cut of 13" (I really need to work on making a fence extension at some point) so I had to mark the wood for the 15" cuts and make the cuts freehand.

Anyone who has worked with precut lumber will know that there is a difference between the nominal size (the size the lumber is referred to like 2x4 or 1x6) and the actual size of the board.

The 1" x 6" board are in fact .75" x 5.5" (nominal - 25.4mm x 152.4mm actual - 19mm x 140mm) so when I was cutting the boards lengthwise to make the sides, each part was 2.75" wide instead of 3"

To make thing easy I will be giving you the nominal dimensions of the parts

For each toolbox I needed three 1" x 6" x 15" boards and one 1"x 2" x 15" board.

I cut one 1" x 6" x 15" board in half width wise to make two 1" x 6" x 7.5" boards to be used as the ends

I cut one 1" x 6" x 15" board in half length wise to make two 1" x 3" x 15" boards to be used as the sides

The last 1" x 6" x 15" board was left whole to be used as the bottom.

The 1" x 2" x 15" board is the handle of the toolbox.

Originally I planned on cutting the tapers for the end pieces on my tablesaw and drawing the cut line in the middle of the board and letting the scouts make that cut with their handsaws.

After testing the hand saw out on a piece of scrap wood, I wisely opted to switch the cuts and use the tablesaw to cut the ends to size. I also cut most of the way through the taper cuts with the tablesaw in order to make it quicker and easier for the scouts to finish the cuts with the handsaw.

Even with most of the material removed by the tablesaw in the taper cuts I was a bit worried about how the final cut would look because when I tested the handsaw I used it as I would normally use a handsaw and the cut was fairly ragged with the teeth of the saw tearing small chunks out of the backside of the wood instead of cutting cleany through the wood (what do you expect for a dollar lol).

Fortunately the scouts did not apply as much pressure to the handsaw when they used it as I did during my test cuts. So even though their cuts took a little longer to make, they looked much cleaner than my test cut.

Step 4: Parts of the Kit


From the local dollar store, I was able to get the scouts:

safety glasses

A hand saw

A set of long and short flat head and phillips head screwdrivers

A tape measure

Obviously, dollar store tools will not become family heirloom tools; but the scouts were thrilled with the concept that they got to keep the tools that they used to build their toolboxes.


2- ends - 1" x 6" x 7.5" (tapers cut at the top)

1 - bottom - 1" x 6" x 15"

2 - sides - 1" x 3" x 15"

1 - Handle - 1" x 2" x 15"


16 - 1.5" screws (I increased the number of screws from 12 in the original plan to 16 because I added a second screw to the each side of the handle to keep the handle from rolling. I also added a second screw at the bottom of the end.

Step 5: Ready to Be Put Together

Looking back on the project, it would have been much easier if I had made a few drilling jigs to get repeatable results on the pilot holes that I drilled for the assembly process.

Instead I opted for the much more difficult and time consuming process of drilling all the pilot holes by hand and marking each join with hashmarks (look closely in the pictures of this step and you will see them) so that the parts could be put together again by the scouts and all the holes would line up properly.

Once I was satisfied with the assembly I just had to put the drill in reverse and remove all the screws and pack up each kit individually.

Step 6: Build Night

The scouts had a blast putting the Toolboxes together.

We did not have time to paint the toolboxes that night, but several of the scouts did say they were going to paint their toolboxes. If they send me pictures of their painted toolboxes I will add photos to this step.

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