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Tool boxes part deux

By now you know that I’m very keen on the “home for every tool, and every tool in it’s home” concept.  I want to discuss carpenter’s tool chests for a moment.

Chris Schwarz is sort of a hero of mine.  He’s a writer for Popular Woodworking and a master craftsman, and he’s dedicated to using hand tools to the greatest extent possible.  He works using tools that fit into his tool chest.  He’s got a few saws, some planes, several chisels, a brace and some bits, squares, etc.  It’s not the tool chest built by H. O. Studley, but it is functional.  And when something serves the purpose for which it was built, and does that one thing very well, that to me is functional beauty.

Stand by for future blog posts as I design, layout, and construct my carpenter’s tool chest later this year.

Tool Homes and The Design Process

So I’m a little bit of a fan about “every tool has a home, and a home for every tool“. I bought some Kobalt sockets from the local Big Blue Box. I then measured each tool and modeled them up in SketchUp.

Here’s what the model looks like:

Socket holder design (SketchUp)

This model will guide me as I lay out the drilling locations and gives me dimensions for the socket holders.  When I build the box to hold the socket holders, the model will serve as a guide for the wall dimensions, but I’m going to make the box elegant with dovetails and/or finger joints at the corners.  Those are time consuming to model in Sketchup.


Today I had some free time, so I practiced sharpening some of my tools. Sharp tools are such a pleasure to use. Dull tools are so NOT a pleasure to use.
I won’t bore you with the details, but a quick grind on a grinder, then 50-100 strokes on the med grit stone, then 30-50 strokes on the fine grit stone gives me a good cutting edge.

Sharp blade
One sharp blade! And I didn’t even strop or hone with 12,000 grit yet.

Is it the sharpest blade in the world? No, it isn’t. Is the blade sharp enough to be very serviceable? Yes. Yes it is.

Two lower-end hand planes that get the job done because they have a really sharp blade.

You need a sharp blade when doing dovetails, or using a hand plane. These are two planes: a #5 jack plane and a smoothing plane. They are fun to use because they are really sharp. Legend has it that you can get cut just by loo OWWWW! king at them. (I stole that line from Kung Fu Panda).
Sharpening is a skill, just like any other skill. Practicing makes the skill easier to do and accomplish.

A Home For Every Tool

Everyone needs a home. Everyone wants a home. Home is where the heart is. Home is where the journey starts. HOMES is the mnemonic device to remember the names of the Great Lakes. (How’s that for a total non sequitur?)

I’ve got a saying that I’ve found myself repeating a lot lately. Every tool needs a home, and there needs to be a home for every tool. Yeah, it’s a ripoff from the Shaker’s expression, a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.

But what if your tools are homeless? Are your tools like most peoples’, a jumble in the bottom of a drawer? In a cold, soulless metal box? Or worse, in a plastic (gasp!) container?

plastic socket holders
Plastic socket holders

That’s like the skid row of tool homes. Hey, I’ve got more than a few of the plastic drill bit cases, or a blown plastic caliper case that’s hard to open, or the “139 piece screw bit case” from the Big Box. Yeah, I’m guilty.

But your tools deserve better. Your tools need a home.

I am building a series of nice tool boxes, from oak and cherry and maple and walnut. They will house your sockets and wrenches and ratchets and adapters. I’m still working on the exact layout in SketchUp, but I have built a prototype for a Kobalt set I picked up from Lowe’s a while back. Metric, because that is the Preferred Solution (a topic for another blog post). When I got them home, I went to store them on one of those sticks with the studs that you snap the sockets onto. I bet you’ve got three sitting around with various sockets stuck on them. And I thought, there’s a better way. A more beautiful way. A way to look at the box and instantly know if a socket is missing or not. A socket box that you will give to your grandchildren, and THEY will give to THEIR grandchildren.


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I want to talk about what custom means to me.  Custom means that whatever you build has never been built exactly like the way you’re building it.  Ever.  Custom means that the piece of furniture, or the book case, or the country chandelier, or the end table, or the headboard, is built to your specs.  It’s designed to fit your space.  It’s finished to suit your taste, your colors, your style.  You are getting an original piece built for you.
But it is so much more than that.  Custom, to me, is intimate.  You’re not buying a mass produced piece of particle board that’s put together with tab A going into slot B.  You are buying access to the fabrication shop.  I will seek your input in the design process.  I will seek your input during the finishing process.  You get full ability to turn the design in your head into reality.  I’m just here to help assist make that design solid.  Tangible.  Yours.
I love to make and build things.  I love to take a picture and a question, “Could you do something like that?” and make it happen.
I’m really excited about opening up this business.  I want to see how well I can take your dream, your vision, and your style, and meld it with wood and light and metal and leather and make something that is yours in every sense of the word.