Build a toolbox. 5 steps.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. If you need to carry a few tools around, an open-top toolbox is great, especially if you are a visual person and need to see things for them to exist. Plumbers love these boxes, as pipe wrenches are long and awkward to carry. I just laid out a few tools I knew I wanted to carry in this box, and made up a plan.

I wanted to build something that would carry a saw or two, a level, a few chisels, and a what-have-you or two. The size of your box is your call; I made mine long enough to hold lengthier tools. The method is the same, irrespective of the length of your toolbox.


  • 6′ 1×10 clear pine
  • 6′ 1×6 clear pine
  • 2-4′ of 1 1/4” diameter dowel
  • Wood glue
  • 35-40 1 1/4” #6 wood screws
  • Pilot drill bit and countersink for #6 screws
  • Cordless drill
  • Phillips screwdriver bit
  • Bit brace
  • 1 1/4” auger bit
  • Japanese pull saw
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Small block plane
  • Wood putty (optional)
  • Varnish (optional)

There are only six pieces of wood in your toolbox: a bottom piece, two sidepieces, two end pieces, and a dowel for your handle.

Step One

Pick good, clean boards. Sometimes you’ll need to pick through the pile to get a good board without large knots (little ones are fine, they add character). You want nice, clean edges, so take care in transport.

Step Two

Choose the size of your box. I decided to make the interior length of my box 36” so it would hold some longer tools like a handsaw, level, etc. I laid out the tools I wanted to put in the toolbox to assure they’d fit.

Step Three

Make sure your lumber is square. Not all lumber has square ends, and if something’s a little off, it’ll show up during construction. Using a t-square, mark a fresh line an inch or so from the ends of the board and trim off. You don’t have to do this, but it’s not a bad habit to get into, especially when you see what happens when you’re fitting your last board and realize there’s an 1/8” gap where there shouldn’t be.

Step Four


Measure and cut your pieces. I made the interior dimensions of the box 36″. Since the bottom and sides of the box will be capped by the end pieces, I cut them all at 36”. You will need two pieces of 1×6 and a single 1×10. Mark them with your square and cut.

Step Five

Design and cut your end pieces. Measure 6 1/4” from the bottom of your 1×10 and mark that spot on both sides of the board.