Custom Tool Tote

Years ago, after all the trips back and forth to my truck for small hand tools began to tire me out more than the work, I started carrying a milk crate, fitted with a shoulder sling. But all the smallest tools, and the screws, driver bits, drill bits, wrenches, etc., ended up in a confused mess at the bottom.

I needed something I could organize and something I could stand on, something that would get me to the very top of a 6/8 door, something that would help me reach the pins on an 8-ft. door, something that would let me see over the top shelf in a closet. And I wanted something I could sit on, too, while chiseling tricky mortises in a jamb or drinking a cup of coffee on a break.

I came up with this tool tote and it’s be a good friend ever since, except for when I don’t keep it organized.

Once a month, I go through it and remove anything I haven’t used recently. Otherwise, the tote gets too heavy and I have to hire someone to carry it.

I made my first tool tote so it would fit inside the milk crate I use for hauling armloads of power tools. That way, when I need a little extra room in my van for materials, it’s nice being able to stack the tool tote inside the milk crate.

You can see from the drawing below that the original design didn’t include a protective cover around my chisels. That’s an improvement I discovered the hard way.

Be sure to check the diameter of your cordless drills before drilling the four large holes. Impact drivers do NOT require a very large hole. I usually sit on the end opposite the chisels and face the chisels, with a driver and a drill motor in each of the two front holes, and the chisels within easy reach.

1/2-in. Baltic Birch plywood is a good and durable choice for the sides and the two bottoms. I rabbeted or dadoed those joints, too. The same material works for the top, but 3/4-in. plywood is better, especially if you rout in the screw trays and you intend to use the tote as a step stool. I used 3/8-in. plywood for the drawer bottom, sides, front, and back, then 1/4-in. plywood for the dividers.

This is just one idea for protecting your chisels. Leave the bottom of the cover open so sawdust will fall through.

This Tool Tote isn’t mine! It’s a clone… at least almost. Eiji Fuller, from Anaheim, CA, built this one. He designed a much simpler way of safely storing his chisels!