06 July 2011

Open toolboxes

I wanted to write some introduction to the power of two concept, but as it is, it stands on its own.
Chris Schwarz offers us an authoritative work about tools and tool storage with The anarchist toolchest. I checked the availability of his book on this continent at Dictum. No book yet, so I went for a book by Charles Hayward as proposed in a language thread at Lost Art Press. I paid 0.01£ for the book (linen hard cover of course) and then an extra 40200% for transport. The book fitted its 'used' condition as upon reception I discovered one small stain on the cover. As for the Hayward's toolset it's there drawing after drawing.  It's also very well presented by the Cornish Workshop, so it's possible to spare a penny plus charges.

When on the Dictum site, I found that they have a nice example of, an open toolbox for woodworkers. To clarify to people stuck in language sensibilities,  this is not a personalized box, the company switched its name from Dick to Dictum in May and they have some labeling backlog.   The Dick-Werkzeugträger Schreinerei/Innenausbau is a nice compact package of mainly Japanese woodworking tools, only the price keeps me from becoming even more a tool collector. I certainly need that E.C.E wooden block plane, as I don't like the feel and weight of cast iron block planes.
And now the buts.  - As I see it it is maybe a little too big to set it on my smallish workbench.  - Like many tool racks it fits perfectly one set of tools and no other, forcing me to go for the matching tools.  - The technique used to make the box seems to allow a 5 minutes cutting cycle on a nesting cnc machine followed by 30 minutes of assembly. This makes the end price of 170€ for the box + container look high, even if it is cheaper than making it myself using a cnc for free.

My interest for open toolboxes comes from my handyman toolbox. Due to the small size of the box, a 25cm x 25cm (10" by 10") footprint, I can put the box on a chair, the corner of a table or its cover. The open nature of the box allows most tools to go easily out and then back in the box keeping the workspace clean(er) and (more) structured. Lately I bought a spare box for 20€ just to be sure I don't fear losing the first one (call it the power of two).

An American (cowboy style?) alternative to open toolboxes are the larger tool belts. They offer also an open structure to put the most used tools within arms reach.

The E.C.Emmerich catalog is not only there for wooden block planes, it proposes in just one page a number of more or less classic solutions to store handtools within arms reach of a workbench.

The classical tool cabinet
Same tools different setup.  When walls are not used, a tilting drawer for under the workbench

A cross between a cabinet and a small chest with those clever, going over the handle, hinges.

And for those on the move, another version of a dedicated tool tote, the PraXsys.

 All of these very nice.  But I was thinking of something smaller,  just big enough to present and regroup the smaller basic tools, with maybe one or two smaller saws, while working .  The tilted board in the small chest seems a good start.

[edit] In the end this post became the start of a series about open toolboxes