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Project by Blake posted 01-03-2010 10:01 AM 7264 views 5 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this box as a tool kit for bonsai tools. My wife got me a starter bonsai and bonsai book for Christmas. I have always been very fascinated by these little trees. I have been collecting tools for trimming and training my bonsai, so I decided to build a box to keep them in.

The simple design is loosely based on the Japanese toolbox in Toshio Odate’s book Japanese Woodworking Tools. And as you will notice, YES, those are nails.

Toshio Odate’s toolbox:


”Note that the toolbox is nailed together. The Japanese are especially careful about the joints in their work, and are, in fact, noted for the skill and beauty with which they created these joints. But while the dovetailing and other joinery in a cabinet may reveal the shokunin’s care, the drawers in that cabinet, like the joints of the toolbox, are nailed… I believe that the shokunin’s use of nails for drawers or toolboxes, which are in relatively constant use, is prompted by a practical sense.” -Toshio Odate

The forth photo shows some of the tools that I have been collecting. They were mostly old rusty tools that I found and have been resurrecting. Also in that photo is a turntable I made from a scrap of walnut and a small lazy suzan (under the bonsai tree).

I chip-carved the characters on the lid (“Bonsai”) and then painted them black, and the entire box got oiled with Danish oil. Its mostly made of Oak left over from my workbench and I think the lid might be Ash.


Heres the Bonsai I made!
Click for details

-- Happy woodworking!

28 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#1 posted 01-03-2010 12:49 PM

beautiful box .. and the story behind the box! Cool
Lovely carving. Well done

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 01-03-2010 02:54 PM

Sweet. A refreshing change.

So you too have a million and one interests. It keeps life interesting. I always told the children that I have never been bored. It looks like you never are either.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4092 days

#3 posted 01-03-2010 03:36 PM


-- 温故知新

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3041 days

#4 posted 01-03-2010 03:44 PM

What a great job Blake! I love the carving in the top. I always wanted to try my hand at raising a Bonsai tree. Now that I seen this cool little jewel I want a tree and a box….lol

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3529 days

#5 posted 01-03-2010 03:46 PM

Pretty cool Blake, I have also been interested in Bonsai. Nice interpretation of the Japanese toolbox and a good place to keep your Bonsai tools. How do you like the book?

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

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4182 days

#6 posted 01-03-2010 04:16 PM

Well, I guess bonsai counts as woodworking. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4364 days

#7 posted 01-03-2010 04:17 PM

Blake: i great looking toolbox. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1593 posts in 3216 days

#8 posted 01-03-2010 04:32 PM

Nice looking box, superb.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Junji's profile


698 posts in 3346 days

#9 posted 01-03-2010 04:36 PM

Wow, what a coincidence! I Just made a toolbox as Xmas gift to my 7 years old son, and it’s just like the black and white photo. The most impressive part is the lid, and your version looks great but different. I will post the project soon,and I will explain it then!
Well done, and I like the Bonsai letters in Japanese.
Happy new year!

-- Junji Sugita from Japan,

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4263 days

#10 posted 01-03-2010 04:41 PM

A great looking box.

Also some great photography.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Woodwrecker's profile


4137 posts in 3540 days

#11 posted 01-03-2010 05:58 PM

A cool hobby in itself, and now some nice implements to pass down in a dedicated bonsai box.
“You only get bored if you let yourself”.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View a1Jim's profile


117061 posts in 3541 days

#12 posted 01-03-2010 06:10 PM

unique idea

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View CaptainSkully's profile


1590 posts in 3522 days

#13 posted 01-03-2010 06:11 PM

Domo arigato! I love bonsai. Great box. Thanks for explaining the nails.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View blackcherry's profile


3337 posts in 3787 days

#14 posted 01-03-2010 06:43 PM

Years ago I had a small collection of trees my favorite was a red maple that stuck up a lot of conversation. It was nice to bring them into the house during the summer evening and place them thought out the living room. Your post reminded me so much of my trees…thanks and enjoy you new hobby…Blkcherry

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3970 days

#15 posted 01-03-2010 07:46 PM

Very cool Blake..I like the hint of cargo/crate look you got going there. Nice job.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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