Long ago I built a version of Gary Katz’s tool box, but I wasn’t too happy with the way it turned out—too heavy and the wheels were too small. After that I decided to build the one I’m using now, and to be honest, this last tool box has won more praise from my clients than my door hanging. I would say that almost every client that sees it makes a comment about it. One older women went as far as to say that by looking at the tool box she could tell that I was a craftsman. I don’t take compliments too easily, so I just tell people that my tool box is a progression of Gary’s tool box, and in fact it is. I’ve been using this tool box for about 2 to 3 years and I have been very happy with it.
I made the box from 5/8-in. fingerjointed pine screwed and glued together, and for appearance I sealed the wood with a clear coating after. I cut out a hand hole on the center of the top center to pull the box around, and added two holes on the sides to lift the box when going over a threshold or anything else that I feel it should not take the weight of the tool box as I pass over it.
As a door hanger I always needed a short step ladder, so I added steps when I built this new box. As a step ladder, it is very steady. I stand on the lower step to check the reveal on top of the door and I step on the higher one when I need to plane the top of the door if the reveal is a little tight. I use the steps as small work tables.
The steps fold up and out of the way. The bottom step opens to get to the tool tray. It folds all the way over and becomes a place to hang my hammer. The top step has a small fluorescent light mounted below. The light comes in handy and the step lifts up if I need even more light, which has been of great help in a few occasions while installing locksets on interior doors late in the evening in poorly lighted homes. The top surface of the top step is recessed to hold hinges and screws while I am installing hinges on the jamb or lockset hardware when installing locks.
Tools on the move
Mobility is a must for a working tool box. The old box had heavy duty castors, but on the new box, I used 6-in. diameter wheels–good enough to climb curbs, steps and every obstacle I encounter. I could have gone bigger, but it was not necessary, 6-in. is good enough. I mounted the wheels on regular 1/2-in. galvanized electrical tubing for an axle.
To move it around, I just tip the box back and wheel it like a hand truck. Even fully loaded, it is very easy to load and unload from my truck. It is a one man tool box–on the heavy side like most tool boxes–but I have lifted it and carried up and down the stairs many times without problems.
Built in juice
Even with all the cordless tools that I own, I still need electricity for plug in tools. So I turned my tool box into a giant extension cord. I mounted a single receptacle on the back of the box that is fed by a 16-ft. power cord. The power cord coils up and stores in a space in the back of the box.
The rest of the bottom area is for tools or objects that I don’t need quite often or that are too big to be in the upper shelf where all the other tools are. I put magnets under the middle shelf intended to hold chisels temporarily while using them. But I found that I never had any real need to use them–they were unnecessary after all. But all in all the box has turned out very useful and complete for all my needs.