Introduction: 5 Tired and True Trug(s)

About: I love to design and make things; and am currently developing a variety of small consumer products.

A what? It's halfway between a bowl and a basket, usually made of wood. Traditionally used in British gardens to carry the harvest in.

Here's the Oxford English Dictionary definition:

trug |trYg| (also trug basket)
noun Brit.

a shallow oblong basket made of strips of wood, traditionally used for carrying garden flowers and produce, not to mention a ready-made, and re-usable Halloween candy carrier! You can see that I planned ahead and made on in orange and black. Those plastic Jack-O-Lanterns will never carry your tools! ;-)

ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting a basin): perhaps a dialect variant of trough.

I've always liked a good trug, have coveted many. They were beautiful, simple, and made to last. Not to mention expensive, made in England, by Old World craftsmen, copper rivets and all.

My original trug, made about 15 years ago served well as a banana bowl for many years, and was a fairly accurate gauge of people's levels of acceptance and creativity. It seemed they either loved or hated my banana trug of humble origins. I'll leave it to you do decide which people I liked better. ;-)

Last year, I got tired of hauling my tool bucket around (never liked the idea much anyway), when I really only needed a half-dozen or so tools, fasteners and tidbits. I decided it was time for an updated banana bowl, this time with a handle.

It's tough, it's black and you won't find one at the hardware store. It works great for toting and keeping track of the just the tools you need when you're roaming about the house or yard. It serves admirably in the traditional way too, for harvesting flowers and vegetables.

It's green because used tires are one of the most difficult waste-disposal problems we have. There are many tire dumps that are literal mountains of tires. One of them caught fire a few months ago, sending huge clouds of very toxic smoke into the air.

A small fraction of the used tire 'inventory' is ground and used in asphalt paving or flooring material (popular in gyms), but it takes a huge capital investment, and barely makes a dent. Here's a low-tech, low-cost way for you to make a difference, and help yourself at the same time.

On to the making... Do your part to reduce the mind-boggling number of used tires piling up waiting for a new life. If you use my measurements, you'll get 5 trugs per tire. I think this one is from a 15" rim.

Pay close attention to the photo notes!

I've tried to include the tools needed in each step's photos.

- Thanks to all for the positive comments so far. If you like it, please rate it, and yes, I this instructable is entered in the Epilog Challenge Contest. Please come back on or after April 19th and vote for me! If the gods are smiling on me, I'll have a monopod entered as well.


Step 1: Tools and Materials

Obviously, you'll need a tire. I pulled a couple out of a dumpster. Michelin, in this case. This way, I'll get at least 70,000 miles out of my trug.

I was a little surprised to find that brand, and probably more so, size of the tire makes a big difference in the final result. This tire is wider, and less rounded, and not as attractive visually as my original trug. (sorry, no pics of the original, it's in storage.)

The list:


- 1 tire (makes 5 trugs), Any tire (tyre, for you Brits ;-) dealer will probably be glad to give you one or more.

- about 2 feet (per trug) of rope (preferably scavenged), about 3/8" diameter, if you want a handle.
Pleased don't use polypropylene rope, as it won't hold a at the end well.

- Water (and soap if desired), to clean up the tire.


- A scrub brush, if you really want it clean.

- An tired (don't use a good one for this!) flat-blade screwdriver or some other small tool,
If you're fussy, you'll want to clean the pebbles and grit out of the tire treads.

- A power saw, to cut the tire with. If you're lucky enough to have access to a big band saw, use it.
I used a reciprocating saw, aka "Sawzall."

- Bolt cutters,
If the tire has a steel cable in the bead (the part the touches the rim), you'll need to cut through it, or cut it out entirely.

- Drill bits, about 3/8", depending on what size your rope is.

- a razor knife, to cut the rope and trim stray rubber bits.

- A propane torch, or a lighter to flame (synthetic) rope ends.

- A file or a pair of side cutters, to trim off any stray wires.

Step 2: Cleaning and Layout.

- Obviously it'll have some road grime on it. Since this is a "green" instructable, you won't be using a brand new tire!

- I was dreading this step in the instructable, since the previous set of trugs was simply eye-balled and cut resulting in irregular sizes. This time, since I was in less of a hurry, I resolved to do better and measure.

Oh geeze, does that mean I have to make a tool, or gasp, remember some geometry?? Luckily, I noticed that the tire manufacturer thoughtfully provided measuring notches around the circumference of the tire. And they thought they were making grooves for water to exit...

I've decided that the size of trug that suits my needs is 1/5 of a tire. The gods were smiling on me, since my tire has 70 segments, which divided by 14 = 5.

I used chalk to mark with, and a straightedge to transfer the lines around to the tread and the other side of the tire.

Step 3: Cutting- Getting Started.

Get out your trusty power saw*

Warning: This is very hard work. It'll be a long time before I do this again without burlier tools, and a better way to brace the tire!

I recommend cutting the tire first, leaving the bead (inner diameter) intact until all cuts are made.
I cut one bead first, and had to deal with a lot of flapping rubber because of it.

- Start at the corner where tread meets the sidewall. At medium speed, cut into the tire until you can get the blade all the way through to the inside.

- Make all of your cuts, right up to the bead, where you'll likely find a steel cable which will dull you blades faster than you can say instructables. Leave the heavy work to the bolt cutters.

When my neighbor(Thanks Rick!) and I were brainstorming, we realized that a sandbag might work well, especially if it were made with an big innertube. He has a couple in the back of his truck he uses for ballast. He got a truck innertube, cut it into sections about two feet long (~60 cm), tied off one end with rope, filled it with sand, then tied off the other end. Next time, that's what I'll use.

*Unless you have access to Bertha the Bandsaw, in which case, your life will be much easier.
Assuming that you know how to use it safely, and have permission of the owner. These instructable concentrates of the tool more likely to be in your shop already.

Step 4: Cutting, Phase 2

Time to cut the bead. But first, see the first photo for what not to do.

- This is your final warning, don't cut the bead until after you make all of your cuts in the tire!
Don't ask me how I know this. ;-)

- The easy part, if you have whopper bolt cutters. (I've since aquired a smaller pair, and they work fine too, it just takes a little more effort.) Thanks to my neighbor Rick and his buddy, it was a snap. Actually, more of a satisfying crunch to bite through the cable.

Step 5: Drilling for the Handle

I used a 3/8" spade bit. My rope is about the same size, so it's a tight fit.

- Eyeball the location if you like, but you'll get better balance if you measure.

- 1 1/2" in from the edge, and about an inch below the edge of the bead.

- Drill only one hole on each side of the trug. The handle goes diagonally across the top to the other end.

I liked having the hole at the bottom of the curve, so place the drill bit so the edge of it would just miss the cable inside the bead.

- It's always a good idea to have a scrap block of wood under the drill.

- You'll get a cleaner hole if you drill about halfway through, just enough for the point of the drill to make a mark on the back side.

- Turn it over and drill all the way through, use a razor knife to trim off any scraps. It'll make it easier to get the rope through the hole.

Step 6: Adding the Handle.

I used scraps of mountain climber's rope, scavenged from a dumpster at the recycling center. They had chocks tied on, so were short pieces already.

Use whatever kind of rope you like, preferably scavenged and re-used rather than bought new.
I discourage you from using polypropylene, as it won't hold a small knot at the bitter end very well.

- Leave your rope uncut if it's longer than it needs to be.

- Thread the rope through the holes as shown. The ends should be on the outside of the trug.

- Tie a simple half hitch (photo 2), pull it good and tight.

- Measure a nice loop and pull any excess through the hole to the outside.

- Tie another knot at that end.

- Trim off any excess rope.

- Flame the end if you have synthetic rope.

Repeat as desired on your other trugs.

- Take care not to get any molten material on your skin. 2d degree burns are not fun.

You're done. See the next step for ideas on how to use your new trugs.

Step 7: Fill 'em Up!

I love these things for carrying tools around the house and yard. It saves hauling the entire bucket, and helps me keep track of them while I'm working.

They are also great as storage bins, especially for heavy bolts, shackles, etc., on the shelf or out in the yard. If you've seen the bottom fall out of a cardboard box or plastic bin full of fasteners, you'll appreciate the sturdiness of these new-world trugs. You could run over it with a truck with no damage, (other than a few bent fasteners).

The original wooden trug was meant for the garden. These serve well there too, and they'll hold water if you need them too. A friend who is a commercial fisherman suggested that a drain hole drilled in the bottom might be a good idea for tool-holding trugs, in case they get forgotten outside.

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