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So, I like my Merrill Tool Box. It's really great especially when I want to pull a split from an outyard. The trouble is the thing is just plain awkward. The straps are always in the way, the latch gets caught under the bellows, the smoker slips out from its strap and the tools all over the outside always catch on clothes and tall grass.
So, I decided to build a better box (for my needs). I'll still bring the Merrill along for splits but there are plenty of inspections where the basics plus some other "essentials" are all I want. I have some carpentry skills and a few tools but still wanted to make it as simple as possible for myself and in case others wanted to try it.
I picked wood from the Appearance Boards section of the local Big Box's lumber department. I encourage anyone with a good local lumber yard to try there, too. Keeping things as simple as possible, I bought all 2ft pieces. 4 1/2x6 and 1 1x8. That's it. I also bought some #8 1 1/4in wood screws. I have wood glue already. Might pick up a little can of polyurethane so that has to go on the list, too.
I sat the 1/2in boards on the 1in to look at the fit. The 2 sides are simply full length pieces. Then, I cut the other two down to 14in for the handle uprights. With the remains from those I cut 2 pieces 5 1/2in (because the 6in boards are really 5 1/2) for a far end and an inside divider. I trimmed the handle uprights to taper but they could be left plain, too. Maybe someone could think of a reason to do that; like another spot for a tool or something. I checked the fit of the far upright, the smoker end piece and the sides and screwed them all together. Resting them on the 1in (really 3/4in) board, i could see there would be some extra. I was going to leave it wide for more stability but this thing has a low center of gravity anyway so I trimmed it off. It just happened to make a nice size for the handle! After I trimmed the bottom down, I screwed it onto the sides.
The inside dividers are just scraps from the uprights cut and screwed together to hold a hive tool, lighter, brush and a note pad. I made the last a little big so it could also hold my phone.
The big open area in the middle can be a catch-all. It's just wide enough for a box of nitrile gloves, for example. It also holds a "6 inch" flower pot stuffed with extra smoker fuel. There's a little more room still. I tossed a queen catcher in there. Might consider some sort of organizer box in it. The bottom of the open area is bound to get full of bits of pine straw, etc.
Took it out to the main yard today and it feels good! The handle covers the center of gravity nicely if you grab it at the smoker end. Generally pretty happy so far but would love input from others. Any ideas?
 

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