Home-made tool box from recycled materials

Over the years I have accumulated a growing pile of pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and other miscellaneous small tools. It long ago outgrew the little toolbox I have, turning into more of a tool pile or perhaps a tool dumping ground. I needed a new, bigger toolbox. Having recently built some new toys, namely a bending brake and spot welder, I knew I needed to build my own toolbox.

Over the years I have accumulated a growing pile of pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and other miscellaneous small tools. It long ago outgrew the little toolbox I have, turning into more of a tool pile or perhaps a tool dumping ground. I needed a new, bigger toolbox. Having recently built some new toys, namely a bending brake and spot welder, I knew I needed to build my own toolbox.

Actually, it was the other way around. I had the toolbox idea first. I built the brake and spotwelder because I thought they could help build the toolbox. And they did.

I gave myself a challenge on this project, to make the entire toolbox from reused and recycled materials. Not because I’m a cheap bas bargain hunter (I blame my dad’s thrifty Scottish upbringing… Hi Dad!), but because I’m really one of those eco-hipster tree huggers who wants to save my wallet the planet.

Design and Construction

The toolbox is 18.5 inches wide, by 13 inches high, by 13 inches deep (470 x 320 x 320 mm). I did not make extensive plans or calculations. Essentially, 18 inches was the largest size I could fit in the bending brake, because that was the size of metal I had when I built the brake. But it seemed like a good size, so I just went with it.

It has a hinged lid on the top, and four sliding drawers. Each drawer has four roller bearings: two on the front of the frame, and two on the back of the drawer. Each drawer is 2.5 inches high (65mm).

The toolbox frame is made of angle-iron salvaged from bed frames, and arc-welded together. Each drawer has guide channels to ride on, with roller bearings.

I put a handle on each side of the box, with a cast aluminum mounting bracket. My buddies recommended that I add some artwork or a personal touch to the box, so I re-used a pattern with my name on it and made a simple open-faced sand casting to make the mounting brackets. I filed the edges square and drilled holes in the flanges to hold stiff bent-wire handles. I used steel rod from a broken baby stroller handle, and bent it with the propane torch.

Recycled Materials

All the materials in this toolbox were recycled, salvaged from other items.

Item Source
Frame Bed frame angle iron (Yes, I know it’s actually steel)
Drawer body sheet metal Refrigerator door skin
Drawer front face PC case
Drawer roller bearings Hard drive disk spindles
Sides and lid PC case
Hinge pin wire Bicycle spokes
Screws Salvaged from other old disassembled stuff
Paint Recycled oil (alkyd) paint from Habitat ReStore
Handle brackets Aluminum from melted-down hard drive bodies and broken car wheels
Handles Steel rod from baby stroller handle

I painted it with recycled oil paint from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I’ve done this on several of my tool projects and it’s been great.

Alright, I have a confession to make. There were some things I had to purchase new. There are a few pop rivets holding part of the drawer slides together. That was before I finished the spot welder. Yeah, I’d like to see somebody figure out how to re-use pop rivets. Does that count? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And I had to buy new welding rod. So there.

It may not be the most accurate, well-aligned toolbox in the world, but I had fun making it, and it is very satisfying to know it is one-of-a-kind. And free. I mean unique. Mostly.

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