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A wood tote is the perfect way to keep your garden tools organized and close at hand in the field. The sturdy example here is fashioned from oak, but rot-resistant cedar is a good choice too—especially if you leave tools out in the rain. Not that we've ever done that...

The bottom is formed from two boards separated by a gap that encourages dirt and grit to escape. The entire piece is finished with linseed oil, which provides a natural sheen and helps the wood keep its color.

If you'd rather spend your time planting, look to buy a tote that's comfortable to carry and the right size for your tools. You'll pay a premium for a box built from solid hardwood or one with a personal inscription. But whether you build or buy, when the growing season draws to a close, you can use your new vessel to collect the fruits (and veggies) of your labor.

Step 1

Overview for How to Make a Garden-Tool Tote

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Oak construction ensures that this carryall will last season after season.

Cut list

For a tool tote that measures 19½ inches long by 9¼ inches wide by 17 inches tall. 1x6 oak for the front and back: two @ 18 inches

1x10 oak for the sides: two @ 16½ inches

1¼-inch oak dowel for the handle: one @ 18⅞ inches

½-by-6-inch oak pieces for the bottom: two @ 19½ inches, ripped to 4½ inches wide

Step 2

Cut the Sides

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Follow the cut-list here to size the parts. Lay the two blanks for the sides on your worktable, faceup. Measure to find the center point along the top of each blank, and mark spots ¾ inch to each side of that point. Then measure and mark spots along the sides, 6½ inches up from the bottom. Use a straightedge to draw a line connecting each top mark to its corresponding side mark. Cut along each line with a straightedge and a circular saw or jigsaw to form the gable-shaped sides for the tote.

Step 3

Fit the Handle

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Clamp the cut sides to your worktable and measure a spot 1½ inches down from the center peak of each gable. Fit your drill with a 15⁄16-inch Forstner bit and use painter's tape to mark the bit ½ inch up from its tip. Drill into each side at the marked spots to form the holes for the handle, stopping when the tape meets the face of the board.

Step 4

Assemble the Box

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Sandwich the front, back, and handle between the two sides, applying wood glue to the captured edges but not the holes—you want to leave the handle free to spin. Clamp the assembly together, and use a pneumatic nailer with 1½-inch brads to fasten the sides to the front and back. Flip the box upside down and run a bead of glue around its bottom edge. Position the pieces for the bottom on the box so that they're flush with the front and back, which will leave a ¼-inch gap between them. Clamp the bottom pieces in place and fasten them with brads, fired at a slight angle into the box to provide a better hold.

Step 5

Finish the Box

Illustration by Gregory Nemec

Fill the nail holes with wood filler and allow it to set. Sand the entire box with 220-grit paper and wipe it clean with a tack cloth. Finish the piece by rubbing it with a mix of equal parts mineral spirits and boiled linseed oil, applied with a lint-free rag.