Design & DIY

Build this DIY box set to keep tools organized

Do it yourself box set container Photo by Liam Mogan

There’s always something to fix or build at our cottage, and keeping my hand tools organized, accessible, and portable makes the job go a lot quicker. This set of stacking tool boxes holds a ton of stuff and is designed to be hauled around with a moving dolly. The nested design protects the contents and helps to prevent the stack from toppling. You’ll need a table saw for this project — it’s the best tool for cutting the dados (square grooves cut into the plywood) that are essential for the strong joints a tool box needs –Paul Lewis

Find the box set plans right here

Step 1

Cut the 6″-wide strips of plywood for the sides and the ends of each box. Then cut all the pieces to length.

Illustration of a wooden box set
Illustration by Jacques Perrault

Step 2

Cut the grooves for the box bottoms and the side dados using the same technique: set the saw fence to ¼” away from the blade, and set the depth of the cut to ¼”. Make the first pass on all the sides, then adjust the fence away from the blade to make your groove wider. Make one cut, and test fit the ¼” material. It should slide easily into the groove without any wiggle. The bottom grooves will need two passes and the sides dados four if you’re using a 1/8″- kerf blade.

Step 3

Cut the bottom panels from the ¼” hardwood ply underlayment: cut the material into 5″ strips first, then cut to length. Test fit one of the boxes before cutting all the bottom panels. Depending on the accuracy of your grooves, you might need to slightly adjust the size of the bottom panels.

Step 4

Assemble the boxes with glue and 1¼” nails: with one long side facedown on your work surface, apply a bead of glue into the dados for the short sides. Insert the short sides into their dados, then insert the bottom panel before adding the second long side. No glue for the bottom panel; it’s captured by all four sides. Drive three nails into each side connection. Repeat for all 12 boxes.

Step 5

A template ensures the shape of the handles are consistent for nesting. Print the handle pattern and adhere it to the ¼”-thick material using spray adhesive. Cut the template out using a jig saw fitted with a fine-cutting blade. Create the interior handle cutout by drilling two holes with a 1¼” hole saw, then complete the interior cuts with the jig saw. Use the template to transfer the handle pattern to the plywood, and cut with the jig saw.

Step 6

Bore two 3/8″ connection holes through each handle, then hold it against the inside faces of the boxes to transfer the location for the holes. Once all the holes are made, then connect the tool boxes together with two quick-connect bolts per tool box.

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