Let’s build… a TOOL BOX! – Part 2 (tutorial)

You are in for a treat! 

Today, Julie from 

follow your heart woodworking

 is taking over to show us how to build a tool box the right way.

Now just so you know, Julie isn’t a builder hack like me. I must make her grit her teeth when she looks at my stuff. 🙂 While I may saw and not even bother to sand something afterwards, she’ll be busy doing dovetail joins and biscuit something or others. She knows her stuff and she is GOOD. So, we are in excellent hands.

Julie’s created a welcome post so you can learn abit more about her work and her motives behind her blog. Click HERE if it’s your first time over!

Why you should build one

Now, I realize tool boxes, or tool totes can be found and sometimes really cheaply, so I hear ya if you think, “Why make one if I can just buy one?”

No one understands that more than I do. In fact I live by it 99% of the time.

BUT!! There’s going to come a day when you can’t find what you’re after. And you’ll wish you had the skills to build it instead.

This is your chance to do just that. This project is EASY and it’s my bet you have all the tools you need on hand. If you need to, ask someone to show you how to work with the tools required, then try this on your own.

Once you build this thing, you’ll claim ownership on a skill you’ll impress yourself with and you’ll be braver to build something a little more challenging next time.

My first build were these gate window screens. (with some cheating – framework was premade) I had guts. What can I say.

My 2nd build was this pallet desk. No cheating. It’s all from scratch.

How I feel now? I feel I can build nearly anything with simple lines! And it feels really REALLY awesome!

You are in good hands. Julie knows her stuff and I’ll invite her back to watch for your comments and questions, so please feel free to ask anything you’d like! We will both be here for you.

Also, join me/us on FJI Facebook. I’ll be checking in on the progress of your build so we can help you any way we can until reveal day.

While it will be perfectly ok to share your premade tool totes at the link party, I’d like to suggest you try and build one too!

Lead the way, Julie!

Funky Junk's Workshop  Series

~ Let’s build ~ a tool box! ~

Part 1 – inspiration

Part 2 – how to build one

by Julie, from follow your heart woodworking

Part 3 – link party to celebrate your new creation!

Rated – Beginner

Supplies needed:

  • wood planks old or new (we’ll get to the dimensions later)
  • plywood
  • something for the handle (ie: a dowel, old rake handle or branch)
  • jigsaw or handsaw
  • drill
  • drill bit
  • hammer
  • nails
  • pencil
  • scrap of cardboard (to make the template)
  • measuring tape or ruler 

~ Measuring the wood ~

You will need: 

  • 2 pieces for the sides (front and back)
  • 2 pieces for the ends
  • 1 piece for the base
  • 1 handle

Here are some old barn boards I had.  The top two will be the sides and they measure at 3 1/2″ wide. The 3rd piece will be the bottom, measuring at 5 1/2″ wide.

You want the side pieces to be narrower than the bottom. 

 ~ Cutting the sides and end pieces ~

1. Cut the length of your side boards to the desired length you wish your tote to be. They can be cut with a handsaw or jigsaw.

2. Decide how tall you’d like your tote to stand. Create a template (I used a piece of cardboard from a cereal box) of the shape and size desired.

3. Start the angle after you have reached the height of your side pieces. 

The height of my piece and template is 9 1/2″.

4. Trace two around your template onto the end pieces of wood, then cut.

~ The base ~

A piece of plywood works well or a 1″ x 6″ would also be good.

Wait to cut it to size until you’ve put the rest of the tote together.  This way you get the perfect size.

~ The handle ~

shown: a dowel, rake handle and a branch

Be creative with your handle choices and use whatever you wish!

Don’t cut the handle until you’ve made the other pieces.

~ Cutting the holes ~

 shown: The forstner bit is on the left and the spade bit on the right

You will now need to cut out a hole for your handle piece.

You want to make your hole for the handle just half-way through the end piece.  So that is approximately a 3/8″ deep hole for a 3/4″ thick end piece. This way the handle is stuck between the end pieces and cannot fall out.  

The best way is to use an electric drill or drill press with the correct drill bit, which would be a forstner bit if you have it.  They cut a nice clean-bottomed hole.

Donna – “I’ll be using a spade bit with my cordless drill.”
If you use a spade bit, the hole will go right through your side piece. You will need to plug the smaller hole or put a screw into the end of the handle. 

~ Building the box ~

1. Mark the hole on your wood first so that you can center it and both sides will match. I put mine about an inch down from the top:

2. Stand up your end pieces and loose fit in between the two side pieces. 

3. Measure the length of your handle by resting it on top of the ends. Mark the length and saw.

4. Drill the holes.

5. Put your handle in the holes and make sure the sides and ends fit tightly together.  

6. Put one end piece down on a firm surface and nail the opposite end piece into the side pieces. 


I used old, used nails. You can also use a nail gun or screws.

7. Flip and nail the other end piece on.  Here’s the pine version.

8. Turn the tote upside down, measure, then cut the plywood the size of the bottom.  

9. Nail it on with smaller nails if you are using plywood. I used finishing nails.


divided tote tutorial is HERE

 These totes can be finished in any way you can think of!

You may find that if you cut old wood, the cut edges are lighter than the rest. The plywood also might not match. I explain how to fix that in another post HERE

 Everything I make is for sale, so if you see something you like, please contact me.

 ~ next up ~

Tool box link party

Fri, June 4 during SNS

That didn’t look so hard, did it?

Will you be building one too? 

What’s holding you back from trying?

Any questions? We’d love to help!

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram RSS

Subscribe to projects!

Categories: Uncategorized

20 thoughts on “Let’s build… a TOOL BOX! – Part 2 (tutorial)

  1. I’ll be in the garage in the morning looking through my wood pieces! This looks so simple – can’t wait to get started.

  2. love love love the desk 🙂 so simple, yet so amazingly cool 🙂 great idea
    and the tool box is lovely, great beginner project 🙂

  3. I LOVE this tutorial! I can’t wait to set myself up to start some wood projects! I did woodwork at school…. A lot of it actually and it was brilliant! It is so satisfying to make something sturdy and useful! X

  4. So, if everything you make is for sale, we could totally be lazy, and have you make it for us…. funny! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas and tutes!

    Happy Day,
    Jasey @ Crazy Daisy
    PS – These tutes are great for people like me who live in small towns and actually can’t find anything like this around easily! I would love to be in a place where I could find old windows, ladders, and other fun old junky stuff. Alas, I have to live through your blog and just do my best!

  5. meijo, I like the way you think! I’ve been looking around for unique materials for my own as well. The above tutorial is a guideline on a tried and true method. Take it from there!


  6. I have always realized my weaknesses (totally have 10 thumbs and would probably cut one or two of them off) but you make this look so easy!

  7. I love totes (tool boxes, tool totes, tulle toes…lol). I was just today putting a blog post up about a rustic tote I made that I’m giving to a bride for her wedding reciption. She wanted something rustic to collect cards in. But I have TONS of totes all around my house and craft room. I seem to always paint them white. Then a few weeks ago I sold signs a business fair and briught a bunch of totes I made to sell there. Check out my post today!
    LOVE your blog topic! ~Heidi

  8. I have been searching craigslist for one of these old boxes…duh why didnt i think to make myself a NEW old tool box.

    You rock Donna!

    Lucky 7 Design

  9. For generations, tradesmen of all persuasions have been banging together simple wooden boxes for their gear. Long and narrow for easy carrying, these toolboxes were little more than five boards and a heavy dowel handle. They were the ultimate in utility–and they’re just as handy now, whether you wear overalls to work or not.

  10. I am a new follower and I just wanted you to know I dig your blog 😉 I love the tool box I have an old soda crate that would transform lovely! Thank for the fun ideas! Your blog is full of creativity SO fun! You should check my blog out too and if you like it follow me back 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *