I'm Not Dead Yet.

So I took a break.  It turned out to be a much longer break than I had anticipated. 2014 was a crazy, hectic, and otherwise frenzied year which saw a lot of life changes and some interesting developments. I did do quite a bit of woodworking last year, however, it was all completed with my hair on fire trying to get things done, and as a result not much of it was documented. This year, however, will be different.

This year will see some new woodworking projects (including some commissioned items), some experimentation, some toolmaking, and new Polthaus Workshop videos posted. I was hoping to get at least one video shot before the end of February, but the weather has had other plans. Unfortunately, the shop remains unheated and temperatures in the single digits are not conducive to doing much of anything but complaining.

Last summer I took a trip to the Midwest to visit some family and ended up on the receiving end of a rather large stash of walnut. This fortunate windfall will become a new dining table and chairs for our house, as well as some tool storage and a few smaller projects. I also encountered this very educational poster on the wall of a Cracker Barrel Restaurant about developing new uses of wood , I especially like "Hiding The Charter." (Click to Enlarge)

Our America "Developing New Uses of Wood"
My daughter has also recently shown an interest in learning to use tools. On a recent trip to the hardware store she became enamored with a multicolored set of box end wrenches. This sparked an idea for a project, probably my most favorite project of 2014.

We got home with the wrenches, opened the package and discussed how they are used. She gathered up some additional loose allen wrenches (hex keys) she had collected from other projects, a folding rule I had given her several months prior, and a tiny plastic handled screwdriver that she may well have conjured into existence, as I have absolutely no idea whence it came. We looked at the small pile of tools and I craftily put the notion into her head that she needed an appropriate place to keep her growing pile of treasure. She recommended a plastic baggie, to which I responded with a pained groan. Then she recommended a basket, I interrupted and recommended a tool box. Not just any tool box, a tool box we can make together! At that she got really excited, and so did I.

Materials and Assembly Tools
The following evening I went into the shop and pulled out some 3/4 scrap pine. I wanted the box to be made of something cheap, not because I think she needs a cheap toolbox, but because I don't want there to be any heartache when we go to build the next box when her tool collection outgrows this one. The intent of the child's toolbox in my mind should be an additional learning aid. I wanted this box to have some built in flaws that we could talk about as they start to fail. In short, I want this box to slowly pull itself apart and need to be replaced by something better.

I quickly cut out all the pieces with a handsaw, squared up the edges on my shooting board and sanded them smooth. I grabbed a handful of copper roofing nails (only because they look nice in pine), my drill to pre-drill the nail holes, and some wood glue. I brought in all the pieces, which I discussed with my daughter. We talked about how the box would go together by dry fitting the pieces together, and then we started in. All the joints are glued and nailed butt joints, I want her to see how they will eventually pull apart. The top and bottom are set into four sides and nailed into place, I want wood movement to slowly pull the top and bottom apart, if it splits all the better. For now, the tools just sit inside the deep box, as her collection grows we will build a sliding tool tray, and a handle for the top of the box. As she uses this first box I want there to be plenty of things she doesn't like about the way it works. Those things will become part of our list when we design the next one. As her skill level improves, the intent is that the toolboxes will get better and better. Hopefully, by the time she is ready to go out into the world on her own, she will have acquired a lot of the skills she needs to be at least 'handy', if not a woodworker in her own right. If nothing else, she'll have decent tools and well made place to keep them.

Hammering In The Copper Roofing Nails
The top of the box is held on with some inexpensive face mounted hinges and is held closed with two brass coated chest latches. I cut up an old leather belt (it was far too small anyway) and made two side handles. So far, she carries it around and mostly pretends to fix things around the house with her tools. Recently, on her own, she took the battery cover off of a dancing Elmo doll with her Phillips head screwdriver to get the old batteries out. You would have thought she just got her Ph.D, I was very proud (until she asked for new batteries for the singing, dancing doll).

Cutting An Old Belt With
A Sharp Plane Blade
I Cut The Corners With A
Carving Gouge

And Then... Handles!

Handles Attached With Brass Screws And Cup Washers

The Finished Box...For Now


  1. When your new videos going to be uploaded?

    1. New videos are forthcoming, I was hoping to have two of them filmed and ready to go last month but it seems I was overly ambitious. My goal is to have at least one if not two ready for upload by May 15th.

  2. Do you know any way on how to properly flatten a newly made jointer plane? Other than using another plane? I was planning on hoping for advise on a plane making project for myself. Also being ambitious is fine. Just really enjoy your videos about tools and look forward to your next.

  3. I truly hope you continue to make videos, specifically all the ones you said you had planned in the Hand Planes video.

  4. Lovely and nice! I also want to do the same one. :) Thanks! I am waiting your next posts! Please! Share with me!

  5. detailed and informative post.thanks for share your creativity with us. waiting for your lovely post