Wood Tool Box

I've always wanted to build a simple wood tool box but i never got around to it, until now.  The look that i had in mind was one of those hundred year old tool boxes sitting in the back corner of an old barn.  The type of tool box that's been used for years carrying old tools and parts.  Something that looks beat up and worn down. 

Also I think the point of toolboxes like this are that they are made of scrap wood that you have lying around.  So after looking on the wood shelf I have, which stores all my wood, I found some scrap boards to use.  Here was my selection of wood to use.
2x4 shelf, wood shelf, easy to build storage shelf

For the end pieces I had some 3/4" thick by 16" high pieces of pine.   And for the side pieces I used some scrap plywood.   Originally my plan was to use old would from junk pallet boards, but they weren't so much as worn as they were cracked.  So I used plywood.  I cut it to size using my new-to-me Craftsman table saw.  Usually i spend some time drawing out ideas before i start building anything.  This time i just quickly sketched up a few profiles for how i wanted the end piece to look and started building.
sketch, tool box, ideas, simple, plan, pattern

Here's a video i did of the entire build.  I explain and show pretty much every step in building the wood tool box.

Wood Tool Box - Simple Homemade Design


Now i said that i didn't spend much time drawing anything up before i began.  But i did spend a lot of time looking at other tool boxes to get ideas for the shape that i wanted.  There's a million different shapes I could've gone with, but I liked the look of the simple bell curve the best.  So I got a piece of paper and drew out a shape that would fit on the end boards.  I drew it out on the board first, transferred that to the paper, then traced that with a thick Sharpie marker.
tool box pattern, plan

After tracing the pattern onto the wood I cut it out with the jigsaw.  Then I used the router to round over the top edge so that it didn't have such sharp corners.

For the handle I decided that i wasn't going to use the typical wood dowel that everyone would use.  I was looking for something more natural and rustic.  So I went in the backyard and started cutting some branches.  There is a tree which grows in the corner of my yard, I'm still not sure what kind of tree it is, but all of the branches are twisted and curved.  The other bonus is that the wood is very hard.  So after cutting about six or seven handles sized branches I took them down to the basement.  Out of those seven branches, these two looked the best.
twisty wood branch, tree branch, wood handle

I used a forcner bit too cut the hole for the handle.  It took some scraping with the wood rasp to get the handle to fit correctly.  I didn't want it to be flush with the edge of the toolbox, I wanted it to stick out a little, again for that rustic look.
building a wood tool box

After I knew the handle would fit snugly it was time to glue and nail it together.  Here is what it looked like before it was all assembled.  Super simple.
easy to build wood tool box, make, glue, nail, wood

A quick sand and i was ready to add the finish.  A picture that i forgot to take was the work i spent on the handle.  I used the rasp to remove the bark, used sandpaper to smooth it all down, then added stain and wax.  I thought it would look cool to have the box be painted and the handle a natural color.  So i covered the handle with masking tape to protect it while i was painting.
finish wood tool box, paint, how to

To finish the rustic look I decided that I should paint it and then roughing up the paint to make it look old.  I used some of that same red eight that I used for my welder cart and miter saw stand.  Here's the first coat.  It looks a bit bright at this point.
make an old looking tool box

By the second coat it starts to get more of a dark/rich red color.
old tool box

Time to start "weathering" the tool box.  Weathering is when you intentionally make something look old.  I got the idea from Adam Savage from Mythbusters, who is also part of the site Tested.  He used to be a movie prop maker and many of his jobs included weathering object to make them look more natural in the movies.  

My plan was to wet everything down, then add black and brown paint in random patches.  Immediately applying the paint i wiped it off with a rag.  The cracks and crevices would not be able to be wiped clean and stay a dark color.  Here's what it looked like as i was weathering the tool box.
how to weather, weathering techniques

Now this is the first time i tried to weather something and i think it turned out ok.  I definitely like the tool box better looking old and worn then if it were brand new and shiny.  After a few hours i felt like it was looking good, so i thought it was ready for a finish top coat.  I had to decide between use polyurethane and wax. 
easy homemade tool box, diy, wood, paint

I ended up using wax, which you can see on the left.  I'm glad i did, the wax gave it more of a natural finish.
cool easy to make tool box

Here's another picture.  I think it turned out well.  And i'm happy that i left the handle unpainted.
great project, tool box, wood, build, make

I'm still not sure what I'm going to put in the toolbox may be some screws or hand tools that I'm constantly using.  But overall it was a nice quick and easy project that should hopefully last for many years.

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