The other day I went to a clients house to install a gate I'd built for her. Before I set off I ran through in my mind each stage of the task ahead and each tool I would need, dropping them into a plastic carrier bag as I went along. Now I do have tool boxes, lot's of them. One's for the car tools, one for "House" tasks etc, but none of them really suited my needs, like a lot of mass produced plastic tool cases.
As I left the house one look from the wife said it all, "The plastic bag had to go", it didn't look good and was a bind trying to find the right tool, I needed space to layout the tools and it needed to look individual, rough & ready. Step one was to layout the biggest tools I would need on a typical job.
It's not like I need to take the entire contents of the shed with me each trip, but I wanted it big enough to take my largest items which turned out to be my pull saw at about 420mm so that would be the length of the trug. Using the classic proportions of 1:1.63 I worked out I needed a width of about 260mm. I'd seen a few pictures of French trugs on the internet and liked the style of them, the sloping ends would making getting out little screws & hand tools easy. To determine this angle I just moved my bevel gauge until it looked about right, which turned out to be 115deg.
Next the wood. I had my eye on some thin pallet wood about 3 inches wide for sides and a sheet of thin ply for the base. Unfortunately the wood I had ear marked for the sides was split after about 8 inches so I needed to find some more. This isn't a problem, this is a challenge. This is what happens when you use pallet wood, you have to think on your toes and go with the flow and direction the wood available takes you. I had some inch thick pallet wood about 6 inches wide. This would provide the sturdy sides. The bevelled slope was marked and cut by hand at both ends. Accuracy wasn't too much of a problem as I now used this side to mark out the second side.
Next I found an old board that used to be a top to a chest of draws or something from Argos. It has been used as a writing board and about three shelves. I used the side to mark out the board and then roughed out where I wanted a handle. I have a problem with mass produced handles on mass produced kit boxes, they're too small for my massive giant like hands. So I used my hand to give me the dimensions for the hand slot. It worked out about 5 inches wide, but you could use your hand to get it right for you. Also curve it down to snugly fit the hand.
I wanted a nice curve to the handle so used a French curve to mark the first curve, once this was cut out using an electric jig saw I used the off cut to mark the curve on the other side. This made it easy to balance up the slops of the handle. The handle hole was cut with a hand drill to start and the power jig saw to cut out the handle and finished with a round Surform.
Now it was assembly time. I first the two out side boards were joined with some of the thinner strips of pallet wood by trusty glue and nail. This wasn't going to be a pretty item, no mitred dovetails here, but a functional rough and ready working tool box. Once the ends were nailed home I flipped it over and planed the side bars flat.
The centre handle section was glued and nailed into place, which sounds simple but was a bit of a juggle. Maybe next time I'll slap it into a vice. The Trug was then used to mark out a sheet of 3.6mm plywood which was cut out and glued & tacked into place. Et Voila, one completed tool trug.
Now I have a Shabby Chic tool tray to carry around my tools when I'm doing "Those little jobs" around the house, or more importantly, the clients house. Notice the front edge has a nice waney edge, that's the beauty of using pallet wood and I will hit it with some course sand paper and linseed oil to age it up a bit.
So why don't you try a pallet wood trug and let the wood take you to your own design.