Introduction: Super Simple Dovetail Tool Box

About: I get a real kick out of completing projects with as low a budget as possible. It's usually pretty easy to collect almost all the parts necessary to make some pretty cool stuff. I also enjoy playing music and …

If you are anything like me, you've probably got a few tools that live on your workbench because you use them on every project. It would be a waste to put them in a tool box or in a drawer only to have to dig them back out moments later. For me, it's a couple of screwdrivers, pliers and chisels. Anyways, I wanted to build a nice home for these tools, so I decided to make this simple tool caddy.

Since I plan to have this sitting on my workbench, I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing. So, I thought dovetail joints on the front would be a nice touch. I kept things simple, with just a single dovetail on each side. As per usual, I used only reclaimed wood, keeping the total cost at zero. It's pallet wood on the two sides and the bottom, and some repurposed little "employee of the month" plaques for the ends. The handle is just some scrap wood that was dying to not be thrown away.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the tools used for this (these are simply the tools that I used, the same project could be done many different ways, with many different tools).

Tools List

  • hand saw
  • coping saw
  • jig saw
  • miter saw
  • router table
  • wood glue
  • lathe
  • chisel
  • drill

Step 1: Cutting the Dovetails

Once you have your wood ready that you will use for the sides and the ends, it's time to cut the dovetails. First you need to draw a line on the side piece that indicates the thickness of the end piece. Next, I used a square to draw my tails at forty five degree angles on each side. After my lines were drawn, I simply cut it out with my jigsaw. Quick and easy.

Next you can butt the side and end pieces together and draw the shape of your dovetail onto the end piece, where it will be joined. Also mark on your end piece the thickness of your side, so you'll know how deep to cut. Then use a hand saw to cut along your marked lines to the correct depth.

Now you can use a coping saw to cut between these to diagonal cuts, moving right along the depth line you have marked. Check out my video if this is too tough to follow. After you have that piece removed, I usually have a little bit of wood in the corner where my coping saw entered. This is really easy to correct with a chisel. Just take off a little bit at a time until you have it just like you want it.

Now you can dry fit your joint and make any adjustments where necessary. If it looks good, you can follow the same process to cut the joint for the other end.

Step 2: The Other Side and Handle

I used the jig saw to cut a shape into the two end pieces. A bit of a cutting board shape, I guess, so the handle would have somewhere to go. Then I clamped the two pieces together and drilled a hole for the handle.

For the joint on the back side, I cut a rabbet on each end piece using the router table. Then I had to trim a tiny bit off of my back side piece to make sure it would fit into the rabbets nice and snug.

For my handle I found a piece of scrap wood that was pretty much the right length and turned it on the lathe. I kept it really simple and only put some lines in the middle, where my hand will grab it.

Step 3: Assembly and Finish

Once all your pieces are ready, it's time to assemble. If your dovetails were tight during your dry fitting, they will be especially tight with wood glue all around the joint. That's a good thing. Just use a mallet to give them a soft tap into place. Then glue up your back piece, and you may want to clamp it for a while. Mine was really tight, so I moved on. I glued up the bottom and put in a couple of nails to hold it in place while the glue dried. Then I glued in the handle and let it all sit overnight.

The next morning, I mixed up some of the saw dust created from cutting the dovetails with some wood glue to make a filler to spread into the gaps in the joints. After that dried up a bit, I sanded it all as smooth as I could.

I wiped the whole thing down with a damp cloth to remove all the dust. Then I applied three coats of spray lacquer, which gave it a nice shiny finish, and really brought out the contrasting colors of the woods.

Now just put the tools in there that you want to have handy at all times and you're done.

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