Intro: How to Make a Tool Roll - Bring Your Hand Tools With You Anywhere!
Woodworking shouldn't be limited to the wood shop!
I've been working with wood for about 10 years and I wanted to be able to bring my hand tools with me anywhere - on camping trips, to outdoor gatherings, and other workshops. Tools can be both sharp and fragile, and otherwise difficult to transport. I decided to make a tool roll for all my hand tools so they could be both mobile and organized - files, rasps, chisels, whittling knives, spoke shave, burnisher, strop, and whatever else you need. There are fancy leather versions of this sold online, but with specific tools, it made sense to make one that was customized to fit my personal tool collection. All it takes is some basic sewing skills, a sewing machine and supplies, 1/2 yard of fabric (this cost me $4), and about 3-4 hours of time to layout and sew the roll. Enjoy!
Step 1: Materials and Tools You'll Need
- sewing machine
- fabric scissors
- an iron / ironing board
- a triangle (or something with a square edge you can trace)
- a ruler
- pencil made for fabric
- thread (heavy duty is better)
- 1/2 yard fabric
(canvas or denim works great! something heavy duty will hold up better. If you have super thick fabric or leather, you'll need a special sewing machine. I used a medium duty lycra/denim blend as I have a standard sewing machine).
- And you'll need the tools you are making the roll for so you can customize the slots to fit them into.
Step 2: Layout of Tools
Once you've gathered the tools you are going to put in the roll, you'll want to take some measurements to figure out the dimensions to cut your fabric. To figure this out, I laid out the tools in the order that felt right, and folded the fabric to test the depth of the folds. One side is deeper for longer tools, and the other side shorter for smaller ones. These dimensions will change depending on your tools, so it might not end up being the same dimensions as mine.
I cut the fabric into a rectangle at 26" w x 28" high, with a 1/2" seam allowance on all sides.
One fold is 5.5" deep, the other is 7.5" deep. After these flaps are folded down, the roll is 14" high in its finished dimension. The 26" width gave me enough space to fit all the tools side by side, plus space for extra tools I might add later.
Step 3: Fold Over and Iron
Fold over the 1/2" seam allowance on the top and bottom and iron the fold.
This way, the edges of the flaps wont unravel. Stitch along the fold - I did a double stitch, and used red thread because I think it looks awesome with the denim. It's also easier to see in the photos :)
Step 4: Fold and Iron Again...
Once the double stitch on the top and bottom edges is in place, you need to fold over 1/2" seam allowances on the ends and iron. After you fold the flaps where the tools will go and iron, it should look like the second photo. Then run a single stitch along the edge - I found it helpful to pin this in place to keep it aligned as I was sewing.
Step 5: Make Custom Slots to Fit Each Tool
Place the first tool in the fold and mark out where to put the stitch. If you use a triangle with a 90 degree edge, it is pretty easy to layout the stitch lines accurately. Mark along the triangle with a fabric pencil.
You can mark them all at once and stitch after. I ended up doing one at a time, stitching after each tool was laid out.
I recommend building up a thicker stitch at the top of the slots, because this is where you want to make sure the stitch is sturdy and won't break. Run the sewing machine forward and backward on top of the seam a couple times, as shown in the second photo.
Step 6: Bonus! Make a Loop to Hold a Tool in Place...
My hammer is dear to me - the head was forged by a blacksmith friend - and it has weight!
I didn't want this to slip out, and seeing as it is one of my longest tools, I decided to add a loop to help hold it in place. I found this fabulous strap embroidered with woodsy animals - cut a short strip (approx 1.5" long), fold over the ends and pin in place, so that the loop fits nicely, and sew the seams.
Step 7: Make the Tie Straps
The straps are used to tie the roll up. You could figure out another way to do this with buttons or snaps instead. And you can buy straps, but I decided to just make them out of the extra fabric.
To make the straps, cut three lengths of fabric about 18" long that is 1" wide. Fold each one into thirds like in the photos and iron the seams. Run a double stitch down the entire length.
Step 8: Sew on the Straps... and You're Finished.
The last step is to sew the straps on.
I pinned one strap on at the center and the other two about 1" from the ends of the rolls. I fold over the end and sew the straps at the same time (shown pinned in the second photo).
To ensure the straps are securely attached, I added reinforcements and stitched an X pattern (shown in the third photo). Cut off any loose threads, fill it with your tools, and you're done!
Let me know if you figure out any improvements - there is a lot of room for interpretation in this project. Make it your own!