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New Shoulder Strap for My New Tool Box

tool box mobile workbenchI recently finished another Hand Tool School project. This time it was a tool box, probably one of the most requested projects by my members. I like to call this a mobile workbench more than a tool box because that’s how I designed it to be used. I did away with the typical tool box handle here because like a workbench, the top has dog holes and I can pop in a shooting board or bench stop very easily (they both fit in the central compartment). I knew that inevitably a handle would get in the way of this work. Inspired by the words of Walter Rose in “The Village Carpenter” (if you haven’t read it, run, don’t walk to get a copy) of rural carpenters walking along country roads with their tool bag slung over their shoulder, I decided to use a strap instead. You can see it pictured here. Just a typical nylon webbing style shoulder strap purchased for a few bucks online. It works great and is long enough that you can sling it across your body thus balancing the load very comfortably. I have been working out of this tool box several nights a week for a few weeks now as I’m building a cabinet for a local church and I can honestly say that my mission is accomplished with what I wanted to do with this design. Sawing, planing, jointing, shooting, joinery, you name it, I have done it on this box.

So now to address the finer points. Compound dovetails, hand carved details, Teak vise hand wheels, fine Peruvian Walnut, black nylon webbing strap (cue record scratching noise) One of these things is not like the other and must be corrected or the karmic balance of the universe will be disrupted.

tool box shoulder strapEnter Earthly Leather Designs. I went searching for a leather worker and found Danielle on Etsy. She is a second generation leather worker and her passion for fantasy designs really struck a chord with me. While my vision was not nearly as ornate as her normal work (check out this Steampunk satchel…awesome!) she was eager to help and excited about the project. We bounced some ideas around and I sent her a design of some hand tool silhouettes to be tooled into the leather. A few weeks later and this glorious shoulder strap showed up on my doorstep.

The strap is 2″ wide with very heavy duty leather and swells to 3″ at the shoulder where padding has been sewn into the underside for a nice comfy touch.

Hand Tool Design on Shoulder StrapThe design I sent Danielle is expertly tooled into the strap just below the swell and looks fantastic. I actually can fit each of these tools in this design in the tool box too!

Pencil holder on tool box strapWhile we were discussing the design, we decided a pocket for a pencil would be handy and she delivered nicely with this little detail on both sides just below the design.

I still need to install it but first I need to apply an oil/varnish to the toolbox itself. The buckle straps Danielle created are very stiff and thick leather that I can bolt to the case just like the current strap is attached. Holes already punched in the strap allow for adjustment of the strap length. I need to get some bronze bolts or wrought hardware first as my big box, zinc coated bolts are just tacky.

I think this strap perfectly jives with the look and feel of the whole tool box and I couldn’t be happier. I think I can proudly say:

My tool box can beat up your tool box!

A huge thanks to Danielle of Earthly Leather Designs for working with me on this custom order. I won’t hesitate to use her again when the need arises. Maybe I can create a sawing chaps fad?!

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