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  • Chi-Linh

Cleaning up my station: Making a tool block

Most people who know me know that I like to tinker around with stuff. This streak allows me to get really into editing projects, maybe sometimes too much. A lot of the time, I'll get into an audio or media project so much that it starts to affect my sleeping and eating. This obsessed spiral ends up doing more harm than good; at some point I start to recognize that I need to take a break and do something else.

The thing that works for me personally is making something tangible.

There's something very nice about starting a DIY project and ending up with an actual thing in my hands. As much as I love media, there's something in my brain that allows me to put a finite ending to a tangible project that doesn't trigger when I'm editing.

So anyway. I needed some place to house my leatherwork stuff. So I made a tool block.

Part 1: Plans and Holes

The base of the block consists of pieces of scrap plywood, stacked and wood glued together.

Yes, hello.

Marking the holes took a lot longer than I care to admit. I ended up deciding on a couple sized holes to match my tools. I marked them accordingly, using a triangle, ruler, and compass.

Excessive planning at this stage = less screwups later.

Since the block itself was pretty rough and uneven, I had to plane it down with a hand planer and sand it smooth before making cuts. Here is my awful work in all its glory.

Plane plane plane sand sand sand, ask SO to help help help

After cutting down the edges to size with a regular handsaw, I rigged up the block with some clamps and went to town drilling the holes with forstner bits. This was fairly easy, as the compass marks I made earlier had the exact middle of where I wanted to drill.

Drilling is therapeutic.

Not a bad outcome! Straight holes too. Phew.

There was a plan to route the end section into a little rectangular hole, but I decided to test the tools for the time being.

Not bad. It's certainly tidier than before!

Part 2: Routing and Staining

The next part of the project included setting up a routing template in order to route out a rectangular hole at the end for my leather punches. Because those tools were irregularly shaped, I couldn't really use holes to house them.

Since I am awful at routing anything, I cheated and asked my SO to do this bit. He's excellent at woodworking.

I again want to point out that the end bit wasn't my handiwork. It's really nice though!

Having finished sanding up all the rough bits, I worked on being as thorough as possible with the staining. I liked the natural layers so I decided to keep the stain as natural as possible.

Also keep a window open because stain might make you high.
Remember kids, always wear gloves and put down kraft paper when you do this.

After a couple more coats and sanding, the whole block was left to dry for 24 hours. And then it was done!

Before: I need to Marie Kondo this aggressively.
After: A E S T H E T I C
After: Glamour shot. Every tool in the correct place.


In the end, this was one of my more favourite projects to date. It wasn't particularly difficult, but it was tedious to make sure I had all the holes planned out so it would fit my tools correctly. I also learned pretty quickly that not aligning the plywood at the beginning made for a pain in the ass later, as I had to course correct by filling in little gaps and planing down the sides a shit ton. At one point I also had about 5 different stains in tests on various bits of plywood to see which one I would really have liked. I think if I was more experienced in woodworking, I might have built up some knowledge of which stains fitted which wood colours.

As a novice, I highly recommend everyone start with a project like this! A colleague told me recently that there's nothing better for beginning woodworking than to drill some holes into some blocks. I think I agree with him.

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