Japanese toolbox inspired knife and fork carrier – part 1


During December holidays at our beach house we spend almost all our time outside on the deck. Every meal is therefore an al fresco affair. I usually do 95% of the cooking over the holiday period, to give the wife a break. Over the past few years it used to irritate me endlessly not having something to carry all the usual utensils, olive oil, salt, pepper etc etc to the table. We cannot leave anything outside, as the monkeys would carry it off in no time. They are real pests and are known as Blou Apies in Afrikaans (Chlorocebus). In the picture below you can see one showing off the blue part of it’s anatomy were it got it’s name from.

blou apie

For that reason mentioned above, I decided to build something that can make this chore less frustrating. In the end I settled on the idea of an open toolbox. The joinery was inspired by a Japanese toolbox I saw on the net and the curves and other aesthetic elements probably come from Cape Dutch architecture, which I love dearly.

I found a Dolfhout (Pterocarpus angolensis) board in my collection for the job. As you can see, it has stunning grain patterns with a marked contrast between heartwood and sapwood. The only problem with this particular board is the dramatic changes in grain direction, but I thought it should be fine for a fairly small toolbox which will do very light duty.


I used the setup below to chop the board into appropriately sized pieces. It should be clear from these pictures how my “overkill” of holdfast holes in this bench continues to be extremely handy for all sort of hand tool operations.


Here I am ripping one of the pieces with a Disston no. 12.


This is the design I came up with for the end boards of the tool box.


The floor/base board has two through tenons on each side that will be wedged.


Here I am creating the mortises in the end board.


After the two pieces were fitted I marked out the location of a very shallow dado to accept about 3 mm worth of floor/base board. I used a chisel and no. 71 Lie-Nielsen router plane to remove the waste.



Pretty much the same joinery and idea was used for the sides of the toolbox.


All the joinery fits nicely together at this stage. The tenons will be wedged and left to protrude once the toolbox is assembled.


I used my reconditioned (pre 1900) no. 66 beader to put beads at the bottom of the sides and the side of the base (where these two parts meet).


I found this ghastly Stanley plough plane amongst the tools my father never used. It was given to him as a present from work, but he was a power tool woodworker so it never saw any action. Having restored several old Stanley planes, I have to say that this is an embarrassment to the Stanley legacy. The crappy plastic handle defines this tool shaped object. Anyway, it did manage to cut a dado for the divider that slots into the base, but I cannot wait for Lie-Nielsen’s new plough plane that is supposed to be out soon.


By the way, the featured image is an African sunset on the Mighty Okavango.