Recycled Wood Tool Tote




Introduction: Recycled Wood Tool Tote

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion ...

My friend Jack's wedding was coming up and I wanted to make something different for the bride and groom, this instructable documents the tool tote I made for the groom as he wants to get into woodworking. The full process is shown and explained on my YouTube channel and detailed instructions will follow below! (please be aware this post contains affiliate links) I hope you enjoy it.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed

Materials :

2 planks 40cm X 10cm (15 3/4" X 3 15/16")

2 planks 40cm X 20cm (15 3/4" X 7 7/8")

Small block of hardwood, enough to make 18 - 20 dowels (in case some dowels break)

Branch for the handle, I used hazel

Wood glue

Danish Oil and Mineral Spirit for the finish


Tools :

Pencil and rule


Handsaw (preferably a large Tenon/Back saw for straighter cuts, or a table saw)

Hand plane or planer thicknesser

Coping saw/scroll saw/bandsaw

Spokeshave and/or sandpaper for finishing off the curves

Drill or brace

2 drill bits; one for the size of the dowels and the other for the size of the handle

Dowel plate (or alternatively, you can just whittle the dowels)



Small hammer

Lint free cloth to apply finish

Step 2: Flattening and Preparing the Wood

I didn't have the required sized boards when I started to make the tool tote so I had to glue 2 sets of 2 planks together. This was done simply by clamping the boards together in a vice, planing down both edges to join at the same time and then gluing together. If you have the desired sized boards at hand however, this part of the step can be avoided.

You can simply put your boards through a planer thicknesser or plane them down with a hand plane. I used my smoothing plane to go across the grain at first to get the boards nice and flat and then afterwards I took a few strokes with the grain to smooth the boards out. When you have your boards flat you can then cut them down into smaller boards at the right size for the tool tote.

Take one of the the 40cm X 20cm boards and cut it in half width ways, making 2 boards that are 20cm X 20cm (7 7/8" X 7 7/8"). These two boards will be the ends of the tote, where the handle joins.

If you stand all the pieces up together you can then figure out the rough length of the handle, cut it slightly oversized to get a better finish.

Step 3: Cutting the Handle Tenons and Curved Ends

This is probably one of the trickier parts of this build and may take some little tweaks here and there to get a snug fit. First of all we need to figure out where the shoulder for the handle tenon is (where the handle meets the inside of the tote). To do this you can lay one of the 20cm X 10cm boards (the sides) on your work surface and hold one of the ends on top of it to the edge of the board, draw a line along the inside edge as shown in the photo.

Repeat this step on the other end of the same board, you then have a measurement of where the handle meets the inside edge of the end of the tote (bit of a tongue twister). Lay the handle on top and transfer the lines over to the handle, as seen in the photo.

Now that you know where the tenon stops, you can make the tenon on the handle. This can be done in a number of ways from chiselling, whittling, using a rounding plane or even a hole saw as we did it.

With the tenons cut you can then drill the holes through the ends. You'll probably want to drill them with a bit which is the next size down from the tenons, you'll have to adjust the tenons a little to get them to fit but they'll be tight when you do.

Knowing where the hole for the tenon will go you can then draw the curve for the end of the tote. I did this by placing a can on top the end to get the top curve, I then set my dividers/compass to get the rest of the curve. Cutting out the curve on one end of the tote means you can use it as a template for the other end. I used a coping saw to cut my curve but I'm sure a scroll saw or bandsaw would do a much more accurate job!

Step 4: The First Glue Up

To make things easier I decided to glue the tote up first before I put the dowels in. This was a fairly simple job, especially with the use of a frame clamp, I'm sure you could use a ratchet strap as well to get the same effect but I would guess a frame clamp works best.

All I had to do was glue up the edges and clamp it altogether making sure that the bottom was flat. I used 4 more clamps just to make sure the glue up was a success and left it overnight.

Step 5: Making the Dowels and Gluing Them In

All the dowels for this project were made from sapele which was destined for the dump, I'm so glad I saved it as it finishes up so nicely but any hardwood will do.

After splitting down a small piece of sapele to the rough size of a dowel, all I did then was to whittle it down to just bigger than the final size and then bashed it through a dowel plate. Its important to get the dowel as close to the final size as possible before hitting it through the plate, if you make it too large then the dowel will be prone to splitting and breaking as you bash it through. Of course making it too small will lead to problems too! I like to make the dowels a fair bit longer than they need to be just to give me plenty of room to finish them off.

After you've made your dowels (there are 18 holes but I made 20 just in case) you can then plan out where you want them to go. For this tote I drilled 7 holes on each side and 2 holes on each end, I felt this was sufficient enough to make it a strong and sturdy tote capable of holding some heavy tools.

Make sure to slightly taper the ends of the dowels, this will make them go in more smoothly and decrease the likelihood of splitting the wood. Dab a little bit of glue on the end and carefully but firmly tap each dowel in until they feel as if they have become part of the tote, you'll hear a noticeable change in the sound of the tapping. Leave it to dry overnight.

Step 6: Cutting Off the Dowels, Sanding and Finishing

The next day you can cut the dowels down wish a flush cut saw and chisel the edges off as close as you can. I went over them with a smoothing plane afterwards as well.

To take some of the "boxiness" away from the tote and also to make the corners less sharp, I used a little block plane to chamfer all the edges. There's something about chamfering that just finishes a project off. After that you can sand it all over, I started with 240 grit sandpaper and went up to 800.

The finish for this project was a 50/50 mix of Danish Oil and Mineral Spirit/White Spirit. I find that this mixture not only helps the oil to soak in to the wood but also it dries faster, its less sticky than 100% Danish Oil and you can put 3 or 4 coats on in a day, which is usually enough to get a nice smooth finish.

Step 7: Chuck Some Tools in It and Show It Off!

As this was a wedding gift I also made a mallet to go with it, I hope Jack is pleased with his gift and uses the hammer to bash the hell out of a chisel in the near future.

The only problem is that I want one now, so I guess I better head back to the workbench!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this instructable, I hope you've found it helpful and informative. If you have the time, feel free to check out my YouTube channel.

Happy Building!

Glue Challenge 2016

Runner Up in the
Glue Challenge 2016

1 Person Made This Project!


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8 Discussions


3 years ago



Reply 2 years ago

Thank you very much!


2 years ago

I really like this project because it shows just how different everyone's woodworking styles are. Some do extravagant joinery, expensive finishes, or whatever while others do things a little more simple. This was a simple design with a classic look......... more like an actual tool tote and looks great! Great ible!


Reply 2 years ago

Ah thank you very much! You're right, I think the world would be boring without all the various styles within it!


Reply 3 years ago

Thank you!


3 years ago

This is beautiful! The handle is really cool


Reply 3 years ago

Thank you, I appreciate it! The handle was lovely to hold I must admit.