Toolbox Kits for Free

We built these little toolbox kits (mentioned previously here) as a way to carry project supplies that are more than you can carry in two hands but less than a honkin’ big toolbox. 

Hand-made wooden toolboxes
Toolboxes and toolbox kits

The idea is simple, really: take a standard 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood and some doweling and make a simple device that carries well and holds a decent amount of tools. 

The main feature of this design is the angled side. This works with the slightly off-centre handle to tilt the toolbox so that it rests alongside your leg without bumping into it. Even full (and it still has a pretty good capacity) it won’t bump into the backs of your knees and it is super easy to carry up and down stairs. 

Cantilevers hand-made wooden toolbox
This toolbox sits flush against your leg and even when full doesn’t bump your knees.

We also built kits–unmade toolboxes–that are an easy-to-accomplish project for anyone looking for a wee bit of a challenge. 

The kit is easy to put together with some clamps and a drill. No glue is needed, and assembly takes about half an hour. The trick here is to make sure that all the cuts are flush and true. This will make the assembly way easier and will also give you square corners. Therefore, it is a good idea to use a table saw, chop saw, and/or hand-held circular saw–with fence or guide–when cutting the stock. It’s also a great idea to use a drillbit exactly the same size as the dowel you intend to use for the handle so it is easy to snug-fit in place until you fasten it. You can use 2″ and 1 1/2″ #8 screws for the body and 1″ #10 screws to secure the handles. 2″ Brads and a compressed-air nail gun work well too. 

Here’s a simple how-to:

  1. Start with a flat surface; a level workbench is better than the floor because you will need to do some drilling. Insert the dowel into the two holes in the end pieces and place the three now-assembled pieces on the flat surface. The carrying bar should be at the top. 
  2. Place the bottom piece (the biggest one) flat between the two end pieces and make sure all the corners are flush. 
  3. Clamp the pieces together / down as best you can so nothing moves. 
  4. Drill pilot holes from the sides into the bottom taking great care to drill flush and level. Drive the screws into the bottom from the pilot holes you created on the sides to secure the sides to the bottom. 
  5. Repeat this for the back and sides, using clamps to make sure the corners stay flush. You can also drive a few screws from the bottom into the front and back pieces to make extra sure if you like. Totally optional. 
  6. Clamp the sides to be flush with the carry handle (the dowel you inserted in step 1) and drive small pilot holes from the side into the dowel. This will secure the handle in place. You probably want to use smaller screws and a smaller diameter pilot hole. 

That’s it. You should have a toolbox. 

But there’s one more thing. 

We built these toolboxes and kits to give away. The idea is that if you can give someone something to build, then that’s more than just giving them a gift; it’s a gift that has the potential to create a maker, or at the very least to give someone new to making a chance to be successful. 

You should try it too–build something you can give, and something you can give away. Let us know if you do and we’ll share your story here. 

Three-up view of handmade wooden toolboxes
Wooden hand-made toolboxes

Fidgets

It’s been a while since the last post, but we’ve still been busy with a few projects (which will get updates here soon!).

One of the fun things keeping us busy are fidgets. These are little hand spinners that keep tactile thinkers busy. Out of all the things we’ve made, these are far and away the most popular so far!

Little hand spinners

3D Printed iPad Stand

A friend of ours lost his trusty stand for an iPad that’s a few years old. Since it’s a bit out of date there aren’t many replacement stands in the stores, we took a look at Thingiverse to see if we could find anything to work with. 

Thanks to a brilliant Clip Stand design by Walter Hsaio we made a quick modification to increase the width by 20% and that seemed to be enough for an iPad. 

Modified clip stand design from Walter Hsaio to fit landscape iPad
Clip stand design thanks to Walter Hsaio

We also managed to print some in glow in the dark filament so that they’re easier to find in dim morning or evening light. 

We also learned that a wee dab of glue from a glue gun helps the stand hold fast to the device; more grippy, less slippy. Just put a slight line of glue on the inside of the “C” that clips the stand to the device. A small dab along other edges might improve stability and durability. 

Good Times at the Market

We went out to the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market again today and had a great time!

Our new project this week was the Boo-gly eyes made from LEDs and ping pong balls (thanks to Everyday with Rachael Ray for the inspiration). 

scary halloween eyes made from ping pong balls and LEDs
Make these scary eyeballs from ping pong balls and LEDs

The stomp rockets were once again a big hit with the kids, but it seems we need to find a convenient bellows-action hook-up for re-inflating the launch pod (pop bottle).

The tool drive continued with a few more donations coming in. If you are interested in donating any hand tools to the tool drive contact us. 

Despite the early-morning rain the sun came out and the market enjoyed a glorious fall morning. 

We plan on being at the last few markets of the season, which is until the end of October. 

We hope to see you there!

Fire and Rockets at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

Well, despite the rain and autumnal-bluster of last Saturday we had a great time at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market.

New Toronto Makeshore booth at Sam Smith Farmers' Market
New Toronto Makeshore at Sam Smith Farmers’ Market

The late addition of the wood gas can/hobo stove was a happy surprise in the cool, rainy morning weather. It is truly amazing how many people are attracted by the smell of wood smoke. And, tending the wee fire-in-a-can was a happy chore for many of the kids who were at the market for the morning. Nothing quite as freeing as open flame and sharp tools to get kids engaged. Thanks to everyone for taking care no one got cut; the booth was warm and inviting all through the misty, moisty morning.

The stomp rocket kits also turned out to be a too-engaging-to-leave-alone toy. The kids played with it until the 2L pop bottle finally bust its under-carriage out; next time we’ll have a few more bottles on-hand.

Making the stomp rocket kit is actually really easy, and the parts can all be acquired for a minimal amount of money. This model uses a 1/2″ diameter hose secured to a hose end-fitting, which was bought at a garden supply store. The hose then fits into a conduit elbow and then into a housing for electrical connectors. Finally, a 1/2″ diameter pipe serves as the launch base; the file folder rockets just slide over the end and are shot off in whichever direction the pipe is pointed.

If you want an easy way how-to-build-a-file-folder-rocket, just grab an old file folder and make a tube that is only slightly larger than the 1/2″ pipe diameter. Tape along the seam to secure the body of the rocket. Add some tape criss-cross fashion over one end to create a top. This is important because this part is what gives the rocket lift-off; if the top is not secure the rocket won’t rise.

This is a super-fun activity for kids because the launch base is cheap and easy to assemble–duct tape over the launcher’s joint fittings will dramatically improve velocity–and the rockets are super-easy to make in less than five minutes. We used some old file folders (what better way to jettison the carapace of tax files than with the stomp of a youngster?!?) and duct tape to make a sturdy and mostly-rain-proof rocket. A firm stomp from a 6 year old child on a 2L bottle sent the rockets 20-30′ in the air. Many shrieks of excitement were heard; much running-about and shenanigans were witnessed.

The can stove was the real surprise hit. This particular get-up has been used for about five years and although it looks like a real tetanus magnet, when handled carefully it is a sturdy and dependable source of cheery heat.

wood gas stove, rusted
Several years old this little stove still pumps out an impressive volume of heat.

 

This model has been locally dubbed the 3-minute stove because it needs some fuel every three minutes or so. However with a steady diet of twigs or small pieces of wood (e.g., a split-up 2×4 piece no longer than 2-3″ [ ~10 cm]) the stove can pump out a ferocious little fire for hours. Once we got it going the stove lasted the entire market long and it gave some of the market kids a chance to practice their camp-craft skills by keeping it going through the rain and the wind. Saws, axes, and fire–what more could kids in the rain want?

Drills.

We also made a cell phone microscope kit, which was right easy when you know what part of the laser pointer to MacGyver. [N.B. Neither duct tape nor bubble gum were needed in this activity.]

These kits are easy to set up with a drill, drill bits, some bolts and nuts (wing nuts and washers are a double-big-plus) and the scavenged lens from the laser pointer. Even the younger kids used the drill to make the pilot holes (with proper parental approval, of course).

cell phone microscope made from wood, acrylic, nuts and bolts, and a laser pointer lens.
This simple cell phone microscope is easy to build and super fun to use.

The tool kits were also popular–both with patrons and with kids interested in using rasp files. Although we didn’t bring in too many tools, some of the kits went out the door and the kit we built on-site was made better by some sweat equity from one of the Market youth to even out a few of the corners.

We’re Going to the Market…

We’re planning on being at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market this weekend to launch the Tool Drive idea and get out with our neighbours!

The Sam Smith Farmers’ Market is on the skate trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park, just south of Humber College’s Lakeshore campus in south Etobicoke (what we locals like to call New Toronto).

As mentioned in an earlier post (Toolbox Workshop – Update) we want to collect spare, gently used hand tools. If you have any extra pliers, hammers, etc (see the linked post for more details) then please bring them by.

We will focus on three projects this weekend:

There will be kits for sale if you want to make your own project at home, so bring some cash (no credit or debit). We will also have some tools and a bit or workspace on-hand for a few makers who just can’t wait to get building.

We are looking for the following new, gently used, or in good working order tools, for example:

  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Screw drivers
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measures
  • Clamps

We have already started things off by building and filling one toolbox with some new and reasonably-used (i.e., still in good working condition) hand tools.

Hand-made small wooden toolbox filled with  hand tools
This toolbox is all ready to be donated to a needy family.

Hope to see you there! With tool donations!

Artisanal Tent Pegs

On a recent camping trip, some of our younger makers thought up a fancy way to help secure the campsite: hand-carved tent pegs!

Large and small, these tent pegs are sure to fasten down tents, tarps, or guy lines.

Freshly on site, Ryan, Jillian, and Nora set-to crafting these every day camping necessities. Each maker paid close attention to incorporating small-but-important details like a smooth feel, bark-less entry points, lashing chevrons (also known as the crook of the branch), and hammer faces.

It was interesting finding the sticks,” said Ryan. “There were a bunch of cuts that the stick had to go through” to make a successful tent peg. He was able to turn out a respectable four pegs alone.

Jillian’s approach was to add a cool purple cord with some fancy knot work.

Nora took a slightly different approach to her tent pegs. “I looked for small but thick sticks when choosing a branch; too thick and they are really difficult to carve, but too thin and there’s nothing to whittle.”

In order to make these artisanal tent pegs yourself, here are some of the key tips from our makers to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to have a safe, sharp blade that locks – jackknives that have folding blades can result in unexpected but nasty surprises;
  • Choose wood that is a) not in poison ivy, b) thick and long enough to be carve-able, and c) not too wet so that you can’t whittle it;
  • Look for tree branches, for example, ones that are heavy enough so that it could actually support the tent!

 

Toolbox Workshop – Update

After a busy summer spent vacationing and having heaps of maker-y fun it’s time for an update on the toolbox workshop idea proposed here.

We have been talking with the good folks at the Sam Smith Farmer’s Market (http://samsmithmarket.ca) and are planning on bringing some tool box kits to a booth at the market in the coming weeks. This is an opportunity to come out, buy or make a kit, and maybe even drop off some tools as a donation to those who need them. 

These kits are slightly modified from the one shown in the original post; these toolboxes are slightly cantilevered to hang more naturally against the leg. It looks a bit counter-intuitive but the off-set centre handle and the low-rise front panel make it very easy to throw a whack of project tools in the box quickly and still carry it with ease. Toolboxes that have handles on-centre force the carrier to hold his or her arm own arm unnaturally proud from the hip, which causes fatigue and sometimes dents in the wall or bruises on the leg.

These toolboxes are designed to hold a good bit of kit while snugging comfortably up against the carrier’s thigh. They can be fastened with brads, nails, or screws and are  lightweight, sturdy, ample, and easily portable. The kits are all custom made-to-measure and easy to assemble as long as you have a flat surface on which to work.

Confirmed dates will be posted here at www.newtorontomakeshore.ca.

DIY toolbox
You, too, can make your very own toolbox

Young Makers: Back to School DIY Pencil Case

One of our young Makers was inspired by a YouTube DIY video and created this mouth wateringly-attractive pencil case.

This project only needs a few materials, which are all easy to get:

  • a package of candies
  • A small zipper
  • Duct tape
  • Hot glue (I.e., a hot glue gun)
Candy wrapper pencil case with duct tape inside and zipper
Use the wrapper from a package of candies, duct tape, hot glue, and a zipper to make this pencil case

Maker Profile: Naked Dog Bakery

It’s time for a shout-out to a local Maker who’s part of New Toronto Makeshore, Jen Magnus who runs the canine kitchen known as the Naked Dog Bakery. [on Twitter @nakeddogbakery]

At Naked Dog Bakery, creating delicious, wholesome, healthy pet treats is our passion. We use only natural and fresh ingredients to create treats that your dog or cat will love and you can feel good about giving. Wheat, corn and soy free with no added sugar, preservatives or artificial ingredients. Grain and diary free options available. We also specialize in custom cakes to celebrate birthdays and other milestones. 

Yum-locious dog treats
Paws-itively delicious Peanut Butter and Pumpkin treats
Dog Treat Cake-liciousness