Sam’s Joiner’s toolbox

DSC_0022I was just sixteen when I made mine from the same pine with the same eight hand tools bought brand new that cost me six weeks wages working 52 hours in each week to buy them.DSC_0017

I got paid £3.50 a week back then and the tools meant something to me because they cost me and I still use the same tools and I remember my dad once saying, “Sell anything you own except your tools because only fools sell their tools.”

And one day thieves came stole some of my tools and I was saddened greatly by the loss but all the more by this one thing; those who took my jewels knew nothing of what they’d cost me, or the joy they’d brought me and that they could never be replaced.

But those who know not what they do are still to be forgiven. I was glad they left the bulk of them. It made forgiveness easier. Where I grew up they would’ve cut their hands off for much less. Steal anything but never a working man’s tools.DSC_0024


Sam’s ready to load up now. Here are his dovetails. This is one of the very best toolboxes there is in my view. Those of you who are with can access all of the techniques and methods by following a tool chest build we did nack in 2013.


19 thoughts on “Sam’s Joiner’s toolbox”

  1. Good job Sam! That’s something you can enjoy for life and pass down to your children.

  2. a stunning piece Sam you should be very proud of that, on a darker note there is no words for how sick i felt the morning i opened the curtains to see my shed door open and to find empty cupboards where my tool once sat every christmas and birthday i’d been bought tools and some low life took them and probably sold them for buttons, it almost put me off ever buying tools again but thankfully being a tool addict got me through that time .

    1. Oh no – that’s a terrible thing to happen, Eddy. I can imagine how devastated you must have been. In glad to hear you didn’t give up!

  3. Great work, Sam. That’s a fine looking toolbox! I hope it serves you well for many years. So – that’s your toolbox and workbench complete – I’m looking forward to reading about your next build! C

  4. Great tool box, but the proportions look different than other “traveling joiner” boxes on this site. It looks a lot taller compared to its depth. Does he plan to store special tools in that taller space? Plus what kind of lock did Sam use?

    1. This is the standard size for an under the bench or at the bench joiner’s toolbox. It’s not technically one you’d carry around though readily transportable and vey accessible. Planes go in the bottom and then other tools like mallets and hammers and awkward ones in the space. He used a face fix box lock with a plate of brass as the keep.

  5. Tim from Australia

    It is so good to see the look on Sam’s face, he is rightly so proud of his efforts.
    He is one of the chosen few of us who can enjoy this pleasure for the rest of his life, thanks to your good work Paul.

  6. £3.50? You were overpaid!

    I started my apprenticeship the week before Kennedy was assassinated. I was paid 1/-5d per hour for a 45-hour week. That worked out at £3-3/-4d a week. We were paid every Thursday afternoon (or Friday morning if we were out on a job).

    When I got home, my mother mugged me for the cash, leaving enough for the bus fare and about 3 shillings to spend.

    As time went on we got paid more and like you I bought a tool each week. Spanners mostly, as I was in the electrical and refrigeration trade then and I still have most of them. I’m glad to say that in my entire working life ‘on the tools’, before I flew a desk in later life, I never had anything nicked or pinched, but I did keep it all under lock and key……

    To be fair, there was an unwritten etiquette in the work place then that stated that a man’s tools were never to be touched or borrowed without his permission. It is very hard to connect the concept of ‘bad form’ in modern times, but believe me, pinching tools was very bad form.

    (To bring it up-to date, we are talking old money here. There were 12 pence to a shilling, and 20 shillings to the pound. 1 shilling and 5 pence works out at about 7 pence in modern money, and John Kennedy was shot in 1963).

  7. Wm. D. Elliott

    Inspiring. I will now try harder to be excellent.

    My tool story is not as hard-scrabble as yours. My blessed father left me his tools, which are about 40% of my tools today. He was not a furniture maker, but his ranch was his serious hobby. As I work with my (his) tools, I can feel his DNA flowing from him to me as I hold a file or his other tools, or whatever. I am grateful for his legacy of an interest in working with my hands and his gift of some tools to get me on my way. The quality of my life is directly attributable to him.

  8. I had some tools stolen once. None of them were worth much yet each one was important, personal. My hand still misses those tools.

  9. Diego Demeulemeester

    This box is of a different design all together, however it has features of both the joiners tool box and the tool chest projects.

    both have been on the wwmc.

    HTH Diego

  10. Great job Sam, and I had the unfortunate same thing happen to me several years ago, where a theif stole most of my handtools right out of my garage in broad Daylight. I was in my backyard mowing when this happened, I couldn’t believe it some nerve. I guess it was a good thing I didn’t see him because it would not have been pretty.

    Thanks for sharing !


  11. Kanisha Bartoletti

    Sorry to be off topic, but I spy a bronze hammer with wooden faces. I have a brass one with square section faces that seems quite similar, and yours is the only other I have seen. Do you have any details on this type of hammer?

  12. When, as an 18 year old apprentice I was off work for 12 weeks, with no pay due to an accident. I was so totally gutted to find the lock to my tool box cut off by one of the men I worked with…..most tools missing. I walked around the workshop and found a 6″ square with my distinctive mark, being used by a bully of a man he told me to off when I asked for it back.
    The good news is I did get it back and today use it with Paul’s teaching.

  13. Where might I find more details on this particular style of tool chest? I think it would be a perfect fit for my shop and tools.

  14. There are things that aught to be done to tool thieves – but most of the sort of fitting punishments that I envision are only done in places like Saudi Arabia!

    I lost about $5000 worth about 8 years ago. It was the first time it had happened to me in 20 years of working. I had just hung my own shingle out & the ordeal almost ruined me. Tools are a working tradesman’s most important possessions. Guard them well. Get the best protection your money can buy.

    Losing a core tool that had been with you from the beginning is almost like loosing a finger, it seems that you can almost reach into your bag/box and get it – but alas it is lost. Loosing a truckload of such tools made me feel as if I were crippled. Some of the ones that I had are long out of production and are as of yet unreplaced.

    This particular misfortune does make one reconsider their working habits, but at such a cost.

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