Carpenter’s Toolbox Children’s Book Carrier
A friend graduated from college this spring with a Education degree with the goal to become a kindergarten teacher. As such she will have several children’s books that she will be carrying around her room. I wanted to make something unique that she could use to carry those books and make them easily accessible.
What I thought of was to make a carpenter’s toolbox. I am not a woodworker by any stretch of the imagine. But I can pretend to be when I need to be. Below is the basic rundown on how I created this project. I did not specific details for two reasons. #1: the lengths and sizes can be adjusted to fit your needs. #2: I was actually flying by the seat of my pants most of this project. I was actually working out sizes and dimensions as the project progressed.
The first step for me was to draw out my design. I started with a sheet of white mat board. This is the stuff that is used in framing and can be found at your local craft store. This paper was great because it was very ridged but could still be cut by scissors. Card stock or other ridged paper would probably work as well.
I created three stencils. One for the base, one for the two sides, and one for the two end pieces.
Here are my dimensions:
- Base – 18” x 9”
- Sides – 18” x 5”
- Ends – 9” x 13”
Cutting the Pieces
For the wood, I went to my local Lowe’s and picked up their “project quality” wood sheets. These are typically good quality wood and are sometimes shrink wrapped to help prevent damage. It is also good staining wood. I do not have any pictures of cutting out the wood mostly because I got a lot of help with this one. I had a friend who works with wood a lot and helped cut the pieces.
NOTE: If you are not an expert in cutting wood on a table saw, get help!!!
Here are some things to keep in mind when cutting:
- Focus on making the edges as straight as possible. These pieces have to fit together, so the more you work at making them straight will eliminate frustration later.
- I wanted the end pieces to taper towards the handle. This took a lot of cut and re-cut to get right. I cannot really give you any advice other than have scrap wood available to try the cut first and save your good wood for the final cut.
Expert Artistic Flair
One of my original ideas was to have alphabet blocks cut into words. These would be glued to the side of the toolbox. In the end, the blocks were cut, but I didn’t like the look. I ended up just giving the cut blocks to my friend so she could decide if she wanted them on there.
NOTE: If you are not an expert wood cutter, do not attempt this. These blocks are very small and it is dangerous to cut them on a table saw. Experts only!
Here is a list of most of the supplies I needed during construction:
- Project quality wood
- Wood screws
- Dowel – 1/2” dowel for the handle
- Wood glue
- Wood stain with brushes
- Table saw – cut the main pieces
- Handheld miter saw – I used this to cut the handle
- Handheld drill and screwdriver – screw bit, small drill bit, 1/2” hole drill bit
- Two large grip vices
The first thing I needed to do was to drill two 1/2” holes on the end pieces. What I did not want to do was go all the way through. The problem is that a hole drill bit has a point that is about a quarter inch long. I was afraid that it would go through before the 1/2” hole was drilled to the right depth. Good news is that it was barely short enough to not go through. I cannot give any specific direction on how far to drill on this one. You will need to just drill a little and check. The key is to go as deep as you can to give the handle enough edge to hold on to.
To make the handle, I cut the dowel to span the distance as well as fit snuggly into the holes. No specific distance, but You will just have to measure here to get the right distance. Always start with too much length and make small cuts to remove length. You want it snug and the handle not to move back and forth in the holes.
At this point we are ready to assemble the toolbox. Using the large grip vices, put all pieces together. I put wood glue in the handle holes to keep it from breaking free or turning in the hand when being carried. I also added a lip to the edge between the side pieces and the base and end pieces.
Each end will use 6 wood screws to hold the toolbox together (12 screws in total.) Two for each side and two for the base. The key here is to measure, mark, and predrill the screw holes.
- Measure to make sure that you are actually going to land into the side or base pieces correctly.
- Mark where the screws need to go.
- Make sure you have those grip vices tight! Movement after this will not be good!
- Choose a small drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screws you are going to use. We predrill the holes to keep the wood from splitting.
- Put in the screws.
At this point you have an almost-completed toolbox.
Two things left to do. First use a not-to-rough sandpaper to smooth out all surfaces and edges. I made sure that I made the edges pretty rounded due to the fact that this will be handled around kids. Finally, stain the wood with your favorite color. Just follow the instructions on the stain and you should be good.
And with that, you now have a completed carpenter’s toolbox that can be used as a very crafty way to carry around children’s books.