Friday, October 1, 2010

Tool Tote from old Barn boards

Here's a tool tote that I made out of old used 1" thick barn wood.

You can make them any size, I went by the size of the wood plank I had which was about 6" wide and ripped it in half (cut the piece down the middle) and then into 16" long pieces for the sides and 8" for the ends. 

I put my bottom piece inside the "box" made by the sides and ends.  Therefore I wanted something thinner than 1" so I put a barn board in my planer to thin it down to 5/8" thick. Since my piece wasn't wide enough I glued three pieces together to make the width for the bottom, which was about 8" x 14"  (you could use a piece of plywood for this step).

The handle is then cut out of another piece to the length that will fit between the ends as you see here. Of course the handle piece needs to be wider so that it sticks up higher than the sides, mine was the width of the original board about 6" (it sits on top of the bottom piece) and was 14" long because the ends are 1" thick and the sides are 16". 

My sides are 2 1/4" high inside the box so the handle piece is slanted down to the height of the sides using a jigsaw.   The handle cutout is made by using a 1 1/4" hole cutting drill bit, as I did here but you could also make a hole with your drill and then use a jigsaw to cut the handle shape about 4" long.

I also used thinner pieces for the two inner dividers, since 1" thick takes up a lot of the interior of the tote. The bottom of the handle is notched out to accept the width of the divider pieces and half their depth.  The divider pieces are notched at the top, the width of the handle and half their own depth.  This way they link together, as you can see by the photo.

This is not fine woodworking, it's supposed to look old, weathered and used so I just nailed the sides to the ends and the sides to the dividers.  I also nailed the handle piece to the ends and nailed the bottom up through the handle piece and the dividers.

When you cut the old boards you will get fresh looking lighter coloured ends of wood.  To make this look as old as the rest of the wood, soak a fine steel wool pad overnight in about 1/2 cup of vinegar (leave the top off the container). The next day add a bit of water, maybe 1/4 cup in the container, and test it by wiping or brushing on a scrap piece of wood.  Leave it to dry for at least a couple hours to see the colour it will make the wood as it does darken over time.  If too dark, add a bit more water and try again on scrap until you get the look you want. You can get quite realistic old looking wood by doing this.

I'm not sure if I want to put some letters on the side of the tote?

I'm linking to the great parties at:
Funky Junk Interiors
The Shabby Chic Cottage
Blue Cricket Design
Making the World Cuter
Sumo's Sweet Stuff 
 and Cottage Instincts

Everything I make is for sale, so if you see something you like, please contact me.


  1. :-) Now here comes another question...How exactly did you cut your notches? Router? Table saw? Chop saw? Love the tote! I'd make the sides taller and use it for art supplies. It looks so cool made out of the old wood.

  2. I use the jigsaw for small notches like that. Cut up each side, then cut up again in the groove on one side and head over on a curve or arc to the other side since you can't turn the jigsaw in such a small radius. Or cut a large hole with a drill in the corners and cut to them with a jigsaw and even out in between.

    I think one of the most important skills in being a woodworker is knowing what tool to use for what job. This is something I am still learning! It just takes practise and time to learn all the tools and what they do. You could use a table saw to cut out the notches but by the time you set it up you could have cut all the notches with the jigsaw. Now, if you were doing 10 of these, then a table saw set up would work great. But just for one a jigsaw is quicker and easier.

    Thanks for reading, Sandra!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I will be saving it and getting my husband to make me one. I like the idea of aging it!

  4. Did you see that Julie? Tracy thinks she needs her husband to make one. I think we need to prove her wrong on that one. (wink!)

    LOVE the tote. But you know that one already too. :)


  5. I love this! Thanks for sharing, *Becca*

  6. Looks great, you did a good job.

    Have to agree, Tracy, you'll love it so much more if you make it yourself.

    Thanks for sharing, Julie.

  7. that is fabulous! I love tool trays of any kind! this is great!

  8. very nice. I will have my kids do this as a project..

  9. Just found your blog via The Graphics Fairy and I love it. You are one talented lady, Julie. Do you use brown or white vinegar to age your timber?

  10. Thanks for the kind comments. I just use regular vinegar


I appreciate all your comments, they keep me blogging! I like to personally reply to each comment I receive but many of you are "no-reply commenters" which means your email address is not connected to your comment. If that is the case I cannot directly reply, sorry.