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In Search for the Right-sized Tool Box

April 8, 2009

Small tool box. Dimension: 21Lx9.75Wx4H”

For the past three and a half years, I’ve been attending Jay van Arsdale’s Traditional Japanese Hand Tools and Joinery class at Laney College in Oakland, California. Given the nature of class activities (e.g., tool maintenance, sharpening, and wear) we are required to bring our own tools. I used to carry a big tool box to class and I packed all sorts of tools in it – yes, I’m one who is in a constant state of prepareness, never wanting to miss even a dull moment. Fully loaded, my big tool box weighs upward of 50-60 pounds. Laney campus parking can be a challenge. Sometimes I have to walk about a city block with the tool box propped up on my shoulder. 50-60 pounds eventually feels like dead weight at such distance. There were times when I huffed and puffed and my body was shaking by the time I got to class. Forget about woodworking; I got a workout!

I subsequently scaled down to a “medium-sized” tool box. It is much lighter at about 35-40 pounds fully loaded, but still feels like a heavyweight after a long distance.

More recently, I took the minimalistic approach and kept my tool kit light. I decided on using a small tool box and to limit the tools to what can fit inside. I came up with a list of tools I felt was most essential and they must all fit in the box!

Daiku Bob’s essential tools.

Tool organization can be an issue since there’s no compartment or partitioning. So I made a tool tray for storing chisels and miscellaneous small items. The tray fits inside the tool box.

Tool box and matching tool tray.

Everything is working out well and I’ve been quite happy with it. A frustration which has been growing over the past two months is that it’s difficult to put everything back inside the box! I’m starting to think that the small tool box is a tad bit too small. I’m in the process of building a slightly bigger tool box. Stay tuned…

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