Original Tool Tote Revisited

I am posting this to preserve for myself what I did to make it.
This tool tote, is closely based on Kit Africa’s Hexagonal Tool Tote in Taunton’s Toolbox Book by Jim Tolpin.

I picked up the book, saw the tote and then had to have the book. I fell in love with the tote at first sight. It reminded me of one of the ancient wooden tool rolls that Japanese Craftsmen would carry to protect their tools from weather and wear. The design has a wonderful timeless look.

In an interview Kit Africa Mentioned two of the Tool Boxes as his favorites, this was one of them.

Here is my son, Nathan with the tote:

H ere it is open:

Here is the mesquite mallet gloat as a bonus:

The initial treatment for the wood, is 2% milk with borax, and the pigment Copper phthalocyanine, or thalo blue. Modern thalo is not considered a toxicity risk, but I would still avoid ingesting it. The older stuff, frightening!
Basically you add borax to the milk until it stops dissolving.  Then you add a touch more milk and dissolve the extra borax or pour it into another container leaving the undissolved borax, unless you want a crunchy finish.  Then I added enough thalo blue to shade it.

After the initial milk paint was mostly dry, I then painted again with powdered milk mixed into apple juice concentrate. To maintain a reasonably flexible skin, an equal blend of safflower, paraffin and turpentine was rubbed in immediately after the milk and apple juice blend was painted on.

Because the pine has significant resin in the grain, the gold and blue pattern is outstanding. A secong coat of safflower, paraffin and turpentine was added to preserve, waterproof and soften the dryness of surface that milk paint produces.

I find milk paint followed by a penetrating wax coating has a really nice feel.

This tool box gives you a place for tools and most of the materials are inexpensive. The leather strap can be a bit more expensive. I made mine out of pine, brass screws, brass tacks, epoxy, screw posts and horse butt. The horse butt was the most expensive, but then I can strop with the straps. I would advise going to a saddle shop and getting vegetable tan leather for the inner fittings, so that you don’t have too many salts in the leather eating your tools. Getting straps from them or using belts from a resale shop would do well.

As far as the one I made goes,
The Hex end on mine has 4″ long sides. The boards are 24″ long and 1/2 thick. The end peices are a touch thicker. The inside straps are 1″ wide, the outside straps are 2″

To avoid near impossible clamping issues, I taped the whole thing together and marked boards and ends. I predrilled the three fixed boards, screw holes, to the end pieces.

I used masking tape to avoid a mess with the epoxy, and used a slower set epoxy and brass screws to hold the sides together during gluing.

I wanted a rougher finish than the mirror smooth one that came out of my thickness planer, so I sanded at an angle across the grain with 80 grit, to give the look and feel I wanted. Sort of an old sawmill look. This way dings and scratches add character instead of ruining the appearance.


5 comments to Original Tool Tote Revisited

  • Skip J.

    Ahhh,,, the original “frontiersman style” toolkit that started the whole “minimalist style” slope… And a milk paint recipe, and a wax finish recipe, and a mesquite mallet gloat too!

    Well done Bob!

    Seems to me there ought to be a list of the tools in the tool kit floating around somewhere????


  • Skip J.

    Ummm.. sorry, the list was in the first article about the box…. sorry..


  • wizz

    I made one of the hex boxes for my carving tools. See this at http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/6133020

  • I love it Richard! The wood you used has a wonderful grain. Thanks for sharing!


  • Skip J.

    Well done Richard.. I especially liked the tool tray you made for it.I agree with Bob about the excellent grain color….



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