Making a Condiment Tote (for beginners) #4: Making the handle and finishing the tote

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 12-06-2011 02:30 AM 2372 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Finishing the inside Part 4 of Making a Condiment Tote (for beginners) series no next part

Now that we have the size of the handle piece, the actual handle has to be cut out of it.
For now I keep the piece as a rectangle, and will do the angled sides after the handle is cut out.

I’m using my router and a template guide to remove the area for the handle. First I need to make a template out of hardboard that is 11/32” larger than the actual size of the oval hole that I want. I determined a hole 3 1/2” long and 1 1/8” wide for the handle would be good for the template size. The router’s guide then runs around the edge of the template to remove the inside.

The template is clamped on top of the pine handle piece which is sitting on a scrap waste board. This way you don’t cut through into your table top!

When you have a few to do, a template is the way to go.

Then I had to cut the angled sides for the handle piece. First I drew them directly on the pieces.

Then I thought I would cut the angled edge using my table saw’s taper jig. It holds the pine piece at any set angle as you push it through the blade.

It worked fine for one side of the handle piece, but I’m not as smart as I think I am because there was no way to use the taper jig to do the other side after the first side was cut away. I had to rethink the process and ended up using my compound mitre saw for the angle on the second side.

All of the handle holes were rounded off on the router table with a round over bit, this makes a nice feel to the handle.

I also rounded off the outside of the handle piece, just to the point where it would fit into the box. (The whole box was also rounded off, all the edges inside and out.)

The handle pieces were then stained and clear coated and fit inside the boxes and nailed in place. The restaurant I’m making these for has a foot print of a boot as their logo, so I painted one on each condiment holder.

I kept track of my time and it took me 14 hours from starting with the rough wood, until I had my four finished pieces.

Now… what would YOU charge for them knowing the labour time was 14 hours and you used pine, stain, clear coat and all your tools and your shop?

-- ~Julie~

9 comments so far

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3133 days

#1 posted 12-07-2011 04:10 AM

I like the boot print. Is that a logo of the restaurant?

-- Greg D.

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3031 days

#2 posted 12-07-2011 04:09 PM

Yes that’s their logo… I hand painted it on each tote.

-- ~Julie~

View Bill Akins's profile

Bill Akins

425 posts in 3695 days

#3 posted 12-15-2011 03:07 PM

I really like this. We spend a lot of time eating on the deck by the pool. I’ll definitely make one of these for next summer.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View QuickWay's profile


77 posts in 2579 days

#4 posted 12-15-2011 05:42 PM

I have really enjoyed reading your post. With your blessing I would like to make some of these for Christmas 2012. here in South Texas we love our BBQ and all our friends and love ones will love this as a gift. Thanks for sharing your heart with us all.

-- Bill Native Texan

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3031 days

#5 posted 12-15-2011 07:33 PM

Bill in GA and Bill in Texas – please DO make some condiment totes!

I blogged about them so that others could see the steps and try it out. My hint would be to sit your condiments out on a piece of paper, or something first, to get the right size. (you don’t want it too big, nor too small) The first one I made was a sample and a bit too large. Because it was to sit on a table in a restaurant, the owner didn’t want to take up extra table space.

Be sure to post photos of your finished projects.

-- ~Julie~

View hjt's profile


826 posts in 3135 days

#6 posted 02-15-2012 04:42 AM

As always, Julie, I greatly enjoy reading your blogs. You are quite an inspiration! The totes are beautiful. Very neat that way you built them. 14 hours??? My wife would love it if I could finish just one project in that time frame!

I’m not sure what to charge. Hope you are lhappy with what you ended up charging them , plus a dinner or two.

-- Harold

View harry1's profile


524 posts in 2281 days

#7 posted 03-01-2012 01:03 PM

A great photo-shoot Julie with a nice outcome. As for price, if you were making them for a living, then they would have to sell at between $100.00 and $110.00 each. less than this and you would be struggling to make a living. The question boils down to what are they prepared to pay, also is this a full time business or just a hobby that pays for itself. I based the price on 3.5 hours @ $20.00/hour + $10.00 for materials + a minimum mark-up of 33 1/3%
Alas Julie, countries like China are killing this sort of enterprise. A few weeks ago a very good friend of mine came round to see me with the wooden tray, the lower part of a sizzle try from a restaurant. This guy is a first class woodworker and turner but, like most, knew little about templates and guides. I designed a template and loaned him one of my jig holders and a few days later he brought round a perfect replica of the tray. Now (at last) the point of the story, he asked me for advice as to what to charge, in front of him I did a Google search on “sizzle plates” and was surprised to see how many sites were offering them, the cast iron sizzle plate AND the wood tray, including postage for around $18.00 which, to my mind would hardly make it an economic proposition
Sorry for the tome, but you know me from old Julie!

-- Harry, Western Australia

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3031 days

#8 posted 03-01-2012 01:41 PM

I agree with you, Harry. I charged $140 for all four. That gives me $10 per hour, not including materials and shop costs. I did not feel that I could ask for more than $35 each because, as you say, there is cheap mass produced stuff out there that makes handmade things look overpriced.

-- ~Julie~

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3801 days

#9 posted 03-07-2015 04:30 AM

The finished tote looks so nice. Although I am not equipped with advance power tools that you have I will certainly try to make one tote using my hand tools and try to present it when finished.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics