I have been building this toolbox with the Bear den of my pack for the past 3 years. It's always a lot of fun for the scouts and for the adults. What I like about this is that it's something that they can use for a good long time and it is soething that the kids can do mostly by themselves. This is designed from the plans in the Bear handbook as well as a toolbox that I built as a Cub Scout some 25 years ago that my Dad still has and uses. It's one of the projects that I remember from my days as a Cub Scout and hope that it can be something that many scouts today will remember well into their future as well.
Have fun and enjoy!
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
This toolbox requires just a few tools and some simple materials. Below is a full list of what you will need. I also included links to materials just as a reference.
Materials (what is required for each toolbox):
- 1 - 6' long "dog-eared" fence picket.
- 1/2 - 4' long 1/2" wooden dowel
- 24 - 1-3/8" long 4-penny bright common nail
- 2 - 1-5/8" long screws
NOTE: You really only need 18 inches of dowel per toolbox. One dowel will make two toolboxes plus extra left over.
NOTE: screws and nails are sold by the box, one box should be more than enough for a pretty large group. For example, the 4-penny nails listed above come in a 1 lb box with an estimated 527 nails per box. That would be enough for all most 22 toolboxes
- Tape Measure
- Carpenter's Square
- Hand Saw (or optional powered miter saw)
- Drill (for pre-drilling nail holes and to make an insert for the handle)
- 1/8" drill bit (for pre-drilling nail holes)
- 1/2" paddle or Forstner bit (for making a pocket for the handle)
- Philips Head Screwdriver
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Safety Glasses & Gloves
Step 2: Cut the Wood / Pre-drill Holes
This step is ideally done before you have a large group of boys. You may want to reserve some portions of it for the boys to get a chance to use a hand saw. For instance in the past, I have cut all of the fence boards to their proper length and added the angle cuts for the end pieces but I left the dowels at their full length. Each scout then was able to measure the dowel and cut it while taking turns.
See the attached Toolbox Plans for a drawing of what these finished cut pieces should look like.
If you are doing this with a group of Cub Scouts, make sure that each scout has their Whittling Chip and that they understand that a saw should be treated as a special kind of knife. At no time should Cub Scouts be using power saws, but with the proper guidance and supervision, they are allowed to use hand tools.
Start on the square end of the board and measure 16 inches from the end. Make a cut there. That is bottom of the box.
Again, from the square end of the board, measure 17.25 inches from the end. Make a cut. Repeat that same cut so that you have two 17.25 inch pieces. These are your sides.
You should be left with about 21.5" of material. You can either cut this piece in half or measure out 10" and have about 1.5" of scrap from each board. It is up to you. Either way, cut the remaining piece so that you have two equally sized pieces between 10 and 11 inches long. These are the ends.
To add the dog-ear on the ends, (it is a different dog-ear than what comes on the fence) measure 2 inches down from the end and 2 inches in from each side. Connect thepoints, which should create a 45 degree angle.
Create a pocket for the handle to go into with either a Frostner bit or Paddle bit with the same diameter as the dowel that you are using for the handle (I suggest either a 1/2" or 5/8" dowel). Drill the hole only half-way through the end piece. It should be centered on the end piece about 1.5" down from the top. See the detail on the drawing for exact placment.
Finally, make sure to pre-drill a hole through the center of the pocket so that you know where to start the screw that will hold the handle in place.
Predrilled Nail Holes:
For Cub Scouts that may not have the best hand-eye coordination, it can be helpful to predrill holes for all the nails. If you have time and would like to do that, then drill the following:
- On each of the sides, drill three holes on each of the short sides, and three holes across one of the long sides (9 holes in all).
- The three on each of the short sides will be for nails that go into the end pieces.
- The three across the long edge will be for nails that go into the bottom.
- These three holes are for nails that will go into the bottom
Step 3: Assembly
The assembly part is the real fun part for the Cub Scouts. Start by putting your ends onto the bottom. To do this the easiest, stand the bottom up on end and place the first side piece on top of it like an upside-down "L". You can then use your handle to help hold the end piece flat. Nail 3 nails through the end piece and into the bottom. Make sure to keep the edge of the end board and the bottom flush and even.
Now, flip these two boards over and put the other end piece on. Make sure that the handle is in place in the two pockets of the end boards, because you want that captured in the pocket from now on. Use another 3 nails to attach the second end piece to the bottom.
It is now time to put the sides on. Lay the toolbox down on it's side and attach the first side with 9 nails. Flip it over and attach the second side with the final 9 nails.
Finally, attach the handle for good with two screws. Putting two screws in the handle will ensure that it will never spin because spinning the handle one way will tighten one of the screws and spinning it the other way will tighten the other screw.
Step 4: Hints / Tips / Teaching Moments / Other
There are a few things that I like to use point out while I am showing scouts how to build these toolboxes.
- I like to show scouts that if you put a little soap or wax on the screws that it can be much easier to put the screws in. Let them put the first screw in without any help and then rub the screws in either a little paste wax or on a bar of soap and see how much easier it is to put in the second screw.
- I like to give each scout a #2 Philips screwdriver along with the toolbox kit. You can find these at your local hardware store usually for less than $1.00 (https://www.homedepot.com/p/2-in-x-4-in-Phillips-Head-Screwdriver-008-004-NOB/100651743). Combine that with the cost of the wood and fastners, and you are right at about $5.00 per scout.
- If people are asking for a good hammer to use for this, I usually suggest about a 16 oz claw hammer, such as the Estwing 16 oz. Curved-Claw Hammer (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Estwing-16-oz-Curved-Claw-Rip-Hammer-E3-16C/100351733). That gives the scouts a tool that they can grow into. It might be a little big for a 3rd grader, but they can choke up on the hammer and grow into it and be a hammer that you can use for a lifetime if you buy a nice high-quality hammer.
- If you happen to have a Brace and Bit, then you can have the scouts make the pocket for the handle. This is only if you have the tool, and I wouldn't suggest going to buy a new brace and bit, as they will probably cost more than $75.
- Lastly, HAVE FUN! This is a great project and I can say that if you take this on with your scouts, then you'll have a great time.