Introduction: Leather Working Tool Rack
A friend of mine asked me to make him a tool box / storage rack for his leather working tools. He told me what he had in mind and I pretty much stuck too it. The only exception was the granite anvil and the interior storage.
This instructable will show some simple box building techniques, working with stone and drilling through harden steel.
Step 1: Draw Up a Plan.
I don't have a CAD program so most of my ideas start out hand drawn. This allows me to layout my ideas creatively and (for me) flow naturally. You can see from the drawing that as the build went, changes were made.
The biggest changes came in the fact that this wasn't going to be a toolbox but a rack. I misunderstood what he meant when he described to me what he wanted. I thought he wanted something he could use to transport his tools. What he really wanted was a rack to sit on his workbench. One that displayed his tools in an easily identifiable fashion.
So I nixed the lid and went to work on laying it out in the shop and making the rough cuts.
Step 2: The 2x4 Rack
The first step (steps) for me was two fold. 1st was to build the 2x4 rack. I cut 4 2x4's at 14" and ran them through my planer to get them perfectly square and identical. Knowing his leather tools at 4" long I spaced them 2" apart and counter sunk the drill holes. This would allow him to mark his drill bit at 2" and drill down on each level of the rack. This should give him plenty of clearance to easily display the tools and never have one sitting in front of the other. Using 2x4's also gave him some wiggle room if he were to get any tools that were longer that 4". The top part of the rack is made using two 2x4's and a 1/4" poplar wood board. The poplar wood is there to evenly space to top board. This was necessary because of the dimensions of the granite slab I was using for the anvil.
Once built, it was screwed, glued, and set aside....onto the anvil.
Step 3: The Anvil.
The anvil was build out of a scrap piece of granite I picked from a dumpster at a local countertop business. When you do leather working you'll need a hard surface to hammer on when stamping designs into your leather. My friend was using a brick. Seriously, a brick...and his leather work was amazing too. He didn't ask for an anvil but I've seen his work and given a proper work space, he'll make some even more amazing stuff.
The dumpster granite wasn't square. I sent it through my tile saw and squared it up. I then cut some red oak to trim out the sides and bottom. The box is built from pine. Mostly for cost reasons. I used oak on the anvil because if he missed with the hammer, he'll need something harder than pine to absorb the blow.
Once all the trim pieces were cut I used epoxy to glue the oak around the stone. The front trim piece I set using tapcons. I burned through three diamond tipped bits in doing so too. He reason for using tapcons on the front was the wrench handle. Because the stone was so heavy, I wanted to give him a way of pulling it out from the bottom compartment. Without the handle, it would have been damn near impossible. So, the tapcons secure the oak trim to the stone, so a handle can be installed on the trim without it ever pulling away from the stone.
Drilling a hole in a wrench....if you've never done this before (I haven't) its tough. I burned up one of my step bits in dong so. I then went and bought a set of cobalt bits and promptly burned up one of those too. What I found out was, my drill press was going fast. It didn't seem like it was. I'm no novice at this either as I used to install trailer hitches at my dads shop. I switched to my cordless drill, which allows better control of the speed. I also heated the wrench red hot using a torch. This was the key. Even at the slow speed and with oil, I wasn't getting through. So, heat and speed control and you'll blast right through a wrench. These were cheap drop forged wrenches too and they were made out of some seriously hard metal.
You'll note on one of the photos there's a gap on the oak trim and anvil. That's because I foolishly didn't pay attention to the length of the screw I was securing the wrench to the trim with. It went past the wood and into the stone, pushing it out a bit. Even when I set a smaller screw, it didn't go back. Since I was essentially building this for barter. I left it as is. We have a deal, I build this rack for him and he does some leather work for me.
Step 4: The Layout.
Since I had my first two steps done, it was time to layout the box. Since the dimensions of the rack and the granite anvil were hard measurements. I basically built the box around them.
I set my pine board on the bench and set the rack and granite on there side. This would allow me to cut the sides and back to fit the rack and stone perfectly. You could just measure it and mostly always do that. I just figured it was easier to transfer the measurements. Once everything was set, I cut out all the pine boards planks to fit what I had marked.
Step 5: Logo Transfer.
He had given me a t-shirt with his leather working logo on it a while back so I asked him to send it to me electronically. I opened it in MS paint and selected the logo. Then you right click and select "invert". If you're ever going to attempt a wood transfer and your file has any letters or numbers on it, you must invert it. If you don't, when you transfer it, they will be backwards. Once done, save the file to a drive and take it to your local office supply and have them print it on a laser printer. Must be a laser printer, or this will not work. Also, ask them to print it on their thinnest paper. Mine was printed at 4" square.
Once you have your print, transfer is simple.
1. Sand and clean your wood.
2. Mark lightly where you want the image transferred too.
3. Layout a layer of acrylic medium (see photo) kind of thick, but not too thick.
4. Place your image on top of goop and using a old credit card or plastic putty knife, squeeze out all the bubbles. (Like putting on a screen protector or decal)
4. Dry overnight and then soak the wood in water. Once you get the paper really wet, you just start rubbing with your hands and the paper will come off leaving your image transferred into the wood.
If your going to naturally stain your wood it would be good practice to cut the image out completely as anywhere the paper was, will show through the natural wood stain. As well as cleaning any of the access acrylic. There are several websites the give great step-by-step instructions on this. Which is where I learned how to do this.
Step 6: The Box.
This is a pretty simple box. I've made quite a few in my days using a Kreg pocket hole jig. I'm not going to get too detailed here as the photos basically speak for themselves. If you're not familiar with Kreg jigs, check the web.
Step 7: Interior Storage.
In my initial drawing I had a compartment in the back. I went with the original design and was well on my way to cutting the hole in the back and finishing the door when I dropped the pine board off the bench and it broke into four pieces...I was pretty upset but necessity is the mother of invention. Not having enough pine board to make another back, I used biscuits and joined 1x4 pine planks together to make another back. Knowing the biscuits would get in the way of making the door I was just going to skip it. That's when I was hit with a little inspiration. Why not make the rack lift up for storage and not have a compartment in the back. I really hated wasting the space back there. Ultimately, I think my final idea was the better one anyway.
I used. Router to make a recessed pocket to receive a 12" piano hinge. I did the same on the back of the top 2x4. I used barrel bolts to secure the hinge to the board and wood screws into the 2x4. Came out great. All he has to do now is lift of the rack to store his hammer and what not...
You will notice I lined it with felt. I did this to cover up the pocket holes and get a better finish look in the interior. I think it's kind of cheesy after I look at it but nevertheless its on it.
I made another handle out of a wrench and used a section of that poplar wood to create a trim piece for the front. I also did another wood transfer of his logo on there as well.
Step 8: Final.
I did not drill any holes in the rack. I figured it would be better if he did. That way he can drill out where he wants, what he wants, and even leave space for future tools.
He's a fireman as well, so I scorched up the sides and back to give it a weathered look. Other than that, I gave it to him kinda plane. I told him to trick it out as he sees fit. Give it his personal touch. He did say he was going to put some leather handles on the side and maybe rivets along the front of the side panel. I'm sure whatever he does it'll look cool and give him a lifetime workstation for his leather work.