A while back I got myself a vintage brace as part of my hand tool collection. It came with an assortment of random bits, but these turned out to be four 1/2″ bits, a couple of 3/4″ and a few others. Not much of an assortment really.

So a more recent purchase was this box of vintage bits.

These came in this nice wooden box, though it wasn’t in the greatest condition. Auger bits like this come in sizes usually ranging from #4 to #16. The number is actually a multiple 1/16″, so a #4 is a 1/4″ bit, #5 is 5/16″, #6 is 3/8″ and so on up to #16 which is 1″.

This set originally contained seven bits in even sizes: #4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16. But as sold, this had two #4s, a #5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. Since then I’ve been filling in the gaps with a #6 and #9 so far, with a #11 on the way. But a full set of 13 will be too big to fit in the box, which, while pretty cool, is not too sturdy anyway. So… time to make a new box!

I first did a ton of planning on this, working out the whole thing in Sketchup. I decided to have a hinged top, covering a top tray that will hold the six smallest bits, from #4 to #9. Then a middle drawer holding #10 – #13 and a bottom drawer for #14 – #16. I got pretty thorough with the drawings.

Here’s the box itself.

And with the top open and drawers out.

And an exploded view showing all the parts.

But these drawing were just for rough planning. I needed to know exact sizes. So this last drawing is a 2D plane showing all the bits’ diameters, and how they will fit in each compartment, so I could get overall dimensions.

With that all worked out, I got to work on the main box. This is all going to be in red oak, pretty sturdy stuff. 1/2″ boards for the main box, and 1/4″ for the bottom of the top tray and to separate the drawers. Also, the drawers will be all 1/4″ construction. Here are all the pieces laid out.

And a detailed shot of some of the cuts. These were fairly complicated pieces. Lots of grooves and rabbets. Lots of chances to use my favorite tool – the Record 044 Plough Plane! I like that where the grooves meet the rabbet, it makes it look like two layers of wood, with some smaller pieces sitting on a larger one. But that’s all one chunk of wood cut into shape. This is all done with 100% hand tools, of course. No electrical anything but the basement lights.

And here’s a dry test fit. Looking good. I was surprised how quickly all this went together.

And finally, the glue up. Have we got clamps? Yeah, we got clamps! Enough clamps? Never!

Tomorrow I’ll prepare the top and bottom and glue the bottom on. The top will be hinged, so that will come later. I’m not totally sure on the mechanical strength of all these joints, so I’ll probably throw in some small nails here and there for insurance, though I think it’s probably fine.