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Tips and Jigs for the Shop #9: Tool Totes - Shop Tote for Small Tools and Instuments

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 12-24-2009 04:49 AM 4171 reads 2 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Second Revision.......Super Sled Sketchup Design Part 9 of Tips and Jigs for the Shop series Part 10: Sledding on the 4th of July........is this a Jig, or an Antic? »

INTRODUCTION
This is a description of Tammy Tote, a much different tote than Tommy, who was described per request, and is very utilitarian, meant to leave the shop when necessary, and had a distinctly electrical bent. Tommy is described here Tommy Tote, and the tote philosophy.

So here is the new tote, Tammy the shop tote, loaded with the intended tools, which I am sure will change over time:

HISTORY
Tammy, who has a very different appearance, is designed to stay in the shop, but is more flexible as to content. Tammy was built last Sunday in a couple of hours, and although inherently flexible, has a distinct purpose in my shop. She is designed to carry mostly measurement tools and instruments, and a few other frequently used items. She is a little similar to another tote, that sits on the back of my radial arm saw table. He is named Toby, and was built 10 years ago or so. He wasn’t designed to move anywhere, and Tammy is so much better, the result of discovering Toby’s deficiencies, that Toby will be replaced soon by a tote similar to Tammy, and Toby will become a shelf on the wall or on some other bench.

Here is venerable old Toby, useful, but not as useful as he needs to be…....

Toby brings one characteristic to Tammy intact, his method of fixation to the table top. He has 2 iron studs, made from 16d nails, that fit in drilled holes on the table. They are so effective, that, not remembering after 10 years of stitting there, I thought he was screwed to the table. So when I had to remove him and put him on the new RAS table I looked for the nonexistent screws, and then found that he was easily removeable, and lifted him off. Tammy, the new shop tote has the same system.

PHILOSOPHY
As noted in my previous tote blog, I think there are a few essential requirements for totes:

1. Totes should fit you, and your tools
2. They should be extremly tough and durable
3. They should be mutable
4. They should be portable

......and an observation….....
5. You never have enough totes

I noted there were two purposes for totes, the portable fix-em-up type and the shop tote. Tommy is a fix-em-up type but is always at my side during projects, because he carries a lot of stuff that is useful. And Tammy is a shop tote, designed to be in the shop, and not go elsewhere.

DESIGN
Tammy was designed with a smaller opening in between the bottom two shelves because I knew my big digital instruments would go there, and actually one more will be there, my Wixey digital angle gauge. I don’t really need to see that shelf well. Tammy is symmetrical front to back, and she is open at the front and back, (Toby the RAS tote is open only at the front, a problem). The curved cut outs on the sides are to facilitate reaching in at an angle. You should be able to reach tools from nearly all angles. Seeing is not quite as important, because you remember what is where after awhile.

Perhaps two new Tote principles here:
6. All tools should be readily visible
7. Tool accessibility should be maximized

Tammy has the same studs as Toby. I made holes in all my project tables at all corners (they are very mobile and can get turned around), and on my workbench as well. I can pick up Tammy and in a few seconds have her securely situated at another work site.

Tools fall to the floor, with more or less disastrous results in my experience, because you push them off with something else. You cannot easily push Tammy off the work areas, in fact it is nearly impossible with a random movement. The tools on Tammy are held by low edges front and back, so random movements will not dislodge them. The front and back lips of the shelves can easily be made as high as you need for security for a given tool set. Mine are about 3/8”. A secure system of mounting is important, because you want the tote away from the center of the workspace, near the edge.

CONSTRUCTION
Unlike Tommy, there are no customized tool racks, so nothing has to be removable and replaceable. Hence, Tammy fits the mutability requirement. Finished with Black Walnut WATCO danish oil. You can’t compromise it with scratches or dents. Danish oil is a good shop jig finish.

Tammy’s construction is plywood with dados, nails, and glue. I have said this before, and I will say it again, this type of construction is highly underrated, and I have never had it fail in up to 25 years of hard use. The sides are 1/2 birch ply, the shelves and edging are 1/4 inch birch ply. The studs are 16d nails, protruding 3/4” and cut and rounded on the end. The shelves are dadoed into the sides. Tammy is very light weight.

I made a jig for the right dimensions for Tammy’s studs, and drilled 9/64 holes, then inserted the nails. Cut them off 3/4” above the surface, removed them, rounded the surface with a file, and replaced them. I used super glue to keep the studs in Tammy. Then used the same jig (just a piece of wood with two screws driven in and protruding) to place all the holes in my work surfaces. Works perfectly. You may want to enlarge the holes in the work surfaces with a little in and out of the drill.

Outside dimensions: approximately 8 1/4” high, 7” deep, 11 3/4” wide. These dimensions are about what I wanted, influenced by scrap material on hand.

MORE PICTURES

Here’s the stuff I put in Tammy, minus the angle gauge….....

Here’s a picture that lets you see Tammy’s stud’s, I cut the curves in her side with my bandsaw. I used a template I quickly made with Corel Draw’s superb bezier function capability, printed up patterns to scale, and cut them out, and drew them on the board.

And here is Tammy, with her feminine curves, and Tommy with his robust muscle compared….....

..........aren’t they a cute couple? (-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska



18 comments so far

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1918 days


#1 posted 12-24-2009 05:06 AM

Fantastic, Jim!!

Not only does form follow function, but totally entertaining literature ensues :-)

Have a great holiday !!

-- -- Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#2 posted 12-24-2009 05:33 AM

Neil

Your comments always eclipse my prose…......(-:

Thank you sir, have a good holiday yourself…..............

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1859 days


#3 posted 12-24-2009 10:12 AM

Hr. Berthelsen
In the short time I have been here on L J (and learned so much) I still would say how had we done the thing´s before with aut your tote´s and idea´s I Don´t now but they are qiet clever and your discription on how to make the thing´s and thought´s behind is great

keep them comming

merry chrismas to you and yours

Dennis

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2078 days


#4 posted 12-24-2009 12:03 PM

Thank you Jim. I just love stuff like this. Your totes are four things: simple, practical, useful, and ingenious. The stories that accompany them are also entertaining (is that five things then?). No matter. I’m sure I will be building Tammy. I like her figure and her skills. I probably will ad a handle though because I move around a lot between my two benches and various table tops that I also sit at and do work. I also thought that a little different version of Tammy would be good for holding my carving chisels which I would like to make more accessible and portable. Thanks for posting this and helping us improve our working conditions! (I need all the help I can get).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1479 posts in 2309 days


#5 posted 12-24-2009 12:37 PM

Nice Jim, this is a style of tote I have note considered and the studs on the bottom are something that may work with dog holes on my bench. Thanks for posting gives me more to ponder when I make one for my bench.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#6 posted 12-24-2009 06:08 PM

Dennis
Thanks for your kind comments. Hope all is well in Denmark for the holiday season. This type of thing is fast and fun to build, much of it can be from scrap.

All
It’s fun to have someone use the Danish spelling of my name (it got changed on Ellis Island). As Dennis knows, that is actually how my great-grandfather spelled it when he lived in Denmark prior to emigrating.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#7 posted 12-24-2009 06:49 PM

Mike,Tim, and Dennis
I like the openness of this design. I didn’t put a handle on her, because I found I would make a deliberate move from one set of holes to another, and Tammy doesn’t sit well outside of holes, because of the studs. I find two hands makes it is easier to place her in the next set of holes. I grasp her with the first two fingers in the back curved top opening, and the other two fingers in the front curved opening and my thumb along the top. The other hand does the same thing on the other side. That might not be easy if you have small hands, if your tote is a lot bigger than Tammy, or if it is quite heavy. Then I think the handle would be a lot more convenient. Handles on each side near the top might work well too, kind of like a large serving dish or Dutch Oven, in fact, I think that would be the best handle design for a number of reasons especially because you will tend to use two hands, because you will be more accurate in placing it into the holes.

Studs might not be necessary with a heavier tote, one that perhaps was deeper relative to the height. But be sure that it won’t tip, or move easily, because it is logical to place the tote at the edge or corner of the table to maximize the working space. And in my case, I am constantly moving those project tables, because they are light weight, and I move them to fit the project and tools in use. I don’t place Tammy at the absolute corner, because I tend to butt my project tables into power tools, and under ledges, etc.

To be honest, I said to myself, “Mike is gonna love this thing, that scroll saw is a natural for making the sides with their curved edges.” Actually, using this basic concept, I can think of a myriad of modifications and uses, many of which would involve making tool racks on the scroll saw, or with a small band saw like mine. The top could easily be made to have racks attached by screws (think that is important because the tools may change or be replaced). Side handles could also be scrolled, I see a compound cut in a solid piece of wood, one to make the rounded profile from the top, and another to provide a finger hold with a profile from the front to back. Additional strips could be used to partition a shelf or effectively make a small parts bin, especially if the tote is designed to hold interchangeable parts and bits for a cutting tool or other.

One thing to remember, you will be reaching through those curved cutouts to directly access a tool from an angle, that is their purpose. Hence those curves should be sanded, and the edges of those curves beveled, I used a small drum sander on the drill press for that. Same can be said for the pieces that form the lips on the shelves. Those lips also form part of the structural integrity of the piece, and my pieces are 5/8” high, and butting on the 1/4” shelves, gives a 3/8” lip. They are glued and nailed into place. Actually, the dadoes for the shelves were press fit tight enough that it stood up and could be moved around even before I glued them into place.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#8 posted 12-24-2009 06:56 PM

Tim
Off topic, but I have my grandfather’s old brace, meaning for a bit and brace. I don’t use it much lately because our power drills generate enough torque. But the brace might still have an advantage in certain situations such as with a long heavy bit. The brace is by Merit Tools, probably bought about 1930, and I bet he bought it from the Sears Catalog, since they sold this item. It is still a functional, ratcheting, brace, and might be fun to fix up. Do you have any comments?

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View BarbS's profile

BarbS

2434 posts in 2829 days


#9 posted 12-24-2009 06:57 PM

Wow Jim, thanks! Your Tammy shelf looks like just what I need to move essentials from one side of the shop to another, and give them all a ‘place’. Thanks for the idea!

-- http://barbsid.blogspot.com/

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#10 posted 12-24-2009 07:04 PM

barbs
Thanks for the viewing and the comments. This thing was fun to build. I designed it staring at a very rough Sketchup model, and thinking about its intended usage. I also considered the limitations of Toby, my RAS table tote.

Best to you and yours for the holidays…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 2417 days


#11 posted 12-24-2009 07:13 PM

Looks neat, Jim.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3684 posts in 1909 days


#12 posted 12-24-2009 10:12 PM

Charles
Thanks again for viewing and commenting. I gather you are coming along with your woodworking, looking at your web site. I always figured that half the fun for me in this hobby would be diddling around with shop stuff, since the projects are frequently small and utilitarian, and lend themselves to design innovation, which I also enjoy.

Have a good holidays Charles, best to you and yours…...................

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile

stefang

13623 posts in 2078 days


#13 posted 12-25-2009 11:48 PM

Wow Jim. That grip description reminded me of some golf lessons I took once. I was so bad at golf that I had to take up woodworking, so the grip talk made me shudder a bit. I get your point though. Another heresy I intend to commit is to drop the the nails on the bottom. Don’t think I will need to secure the tote in my situation. I might make the bottom stick out a bit all the way around so I could quickly fix it to a work surface with a one-handed clamp. As you said I might be using the scroll saw on this project, but it will give me some well needed cutting practice and some fancy work that I can actually keep for a change. Also I have to admit that I was wondering why the side cut-out configuration, and I was glad to hear that this had to do with function. Some people actually use their brains to reason things out. I wondered what it was good for. Now I know.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1918 days


#14 posted 12-25-2009 11:51 PM

Jim:

How come you haven’t graced us with any pictures of the other latest addition—the one that probably weighs in at something around eight pounds, and is … coincidentally … also called “Jim.”

???

-- -- Neil

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1859 days


#15 posted 12-26-2009 03:23 AM

NBeener

One thing at a time I´m sure Mr. Bethelsen will show us in the furture but for now let him share all the good thought´s with us I´m sure there is a lot other LJ´s aut there like me who presiat all the right thing´s that people share and we allso would like to see some mistake´s but at a much later time just before we make them :-)

Dennis

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