I’m interested in several crafts/hobbies some of which can be practiced inside the house. Drawing, knot tying, leather and canvas work being the primary examples. My wife enjoys crafting quilts and there is always some general sewing task that needs to performed as well. Each of those crafts involve tools and supplies of their own that need to be stored away and, hopefully, corralled together. To that end I have been searching for a suitable box design that can be pressed into service for holding these craft items. My intent is for each craft to have it’s own storage box.
Generally I wanted a medium-sized box that could be easily transported from room to room and that could be stored away on a shelf or atop a dresser/tansu. A drawer or two is always handy and of course it needed to have a Japanese flare to it.
In my search I came across several examples that came close to what I wanted. The problem was that the examples tended to be a little to specific to the task. They also tended to be purpose-built for a specific tool/material combination. Two examples being the Japanese sewing tansu and the Japanese calligraphy tansu.
I like both of these examples but they each fell short of what I was looking for. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for, but I was confident that I would know it once I saw it.
So I spent a good deal of time trolling websites that sell Japanese antiques looking for inspiration. Too big, too small, the search droned on. Still nothing jumped out as “the one”. Then I came across this merchant tansu. Bingo!
One large base drawer with a bank of smaller drawers tucked away behind a removable panel. The smaller drawer bank can also easily be configured as needed depending on the intended use of the box. Very reminiscent of a carpenter’s drop-front toolbox. In fact, I think this would make a great “fix it” toolbox for in the house.
The joinery is fairly simple (dados, rebates, laps) and I see no reason to change how this box is put together. I will, however, change the drawer construction to match my standard assembly method. Most of the details I can decipher from the photographs. Those that I cannot, can be readily guessed and have little structural importance.
I’m currently working on my usual proportional layout drawing as well as a couple of detail sheets that cover the joinery details. The seller of the above antique lists the dimensions as 19-1/2″(W) x 13-1/2″(D) x 12″(H). I’m scaling this first box to take advantage of a nominal 1×12 available at the big box store. Once the design work is complete I’ll begin the build process. The lumber for this project will be the same inexpensive Home Depot #2 pine that I built the Japanese Toolbox from. The specific species of pine is still a mystery, but it was pleasant to work with and half the cost of the clear pine. Win, win.