Tool Box Prototype

For a while now I have felt that my ability to organize my tools left something to be desired. After looking through Jim Stack’s “Building the Perfect Tool Chest” I had a rough idea about the type of tool box I wanted to make. But I was hesitant to spend money on a project without any experience building a cabinet type project. I was not sure that I had enough clamps to properly glue everything together. I also was not sure how the tolerances would stack up and effect the quality of the final product. Eventually I decided that I had too many unknowns and needed to build a prototype. Using only material that I found in a construction site dumpster or had left over from previous projects, I built a prototype toolbox to practice. The largest piece of plywood I scavenged was 13″x27″, and that constrained the dimensions of this project. Admittedly I needed the practice, and still have some technical issues to iron out before I build a toolbox that will last a lifetime. Below are pictures documenting the results of the build.

A mess of frequently used tools that I would like to keep close, but better organized.

View of the top drawer. The drawer is 2 inches deep.

The middle drawer. Drawer bottoms are hard board with the smooth side facing down.

Bottom drawer with the increased depth of 3.5 inches.

Easy to open handles fabricated from stakes left over from the raised garden bed project.

Close up of the easy to build sliding mechanism for the drawers. The side of the tool box is made from 1/2" chip board. The drawer bottoms are made of hard board with the smooth side facing down. I predict this will eventually be the demise of this tool box, but it will last long enough for me to build a better tool box in a couple years.

Improved tool storage after completion of the project.

The carcass for the toolbox has a 12″ by 12″ footprint and is about 8.5″ tall. The chip board is 1/2″ thick. All joints are glued butt joints, no fasteners were used. The back of the toolbox was closed off with a sheet of hardboard. I attempted to maintain a 1/16″ tolerance between all drawers and sides. The only tool that I needed for this project was a table saw and a bunch of clamps. I was able to get all of the small tools I use frequently into the drawers along with some additional tools that previously resided in another toolbox.


About Ryan

Ryan is currently a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Air Force Research Laboratory. His research area includes Prognostic Health Management of Electronics. For more information please visit:
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