Toolbox For The Road

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AA^hen cabinetmaker Jerry Hillenburg, of Martinsville, Indiana, set out to make a toolbox to carry his tools and supplies to the job site, he didn't fool around. Instead, he built the utimate rolling tool tote—one with a motor in it. Hillenburg's tool box is a 1992 3/i-ton Ford van carefully fitted out to hold an astonishing array of tools, totes and accessories—everything, in fact, that Hillenburg's four-man crew needs to run architectural moldings, hang doors and install his custom cabinets and built-in furniture.Yet looking into the doors of the van, I was amazed to see the large amount of open space. There is plenty of room to get around, browse through boxes and occassionally haul materials or a cabinet in need of repair back to the shop. (Hillenburg hauls cabinetry and most materials in an enclosed cargo trailer.)

Hillenburg arranged the storage systems around the perimeter of the van, building shelving along the two sides and a bank of lift-out

Cargo Trailer Shelving

Passenger-side shelves

Sliding door

72 in

Back door

Wall behind seats

6572 in.

104 in.

Van Tool Storage

Lining the perimeter of the van's cargo space are shelving and removable, dual-purpose carry totes/storage bins, leaving an ample amount of open space to facilitate access.

storage bins and drawers between the driver's compartment and the van's bed. Custom-made spring-loaded clips hold levels to the upper walls, while bungee cords hold loose items like a stepladder and some of the totes. Even the back doors are fitted for storage, with reels of extension cords and air hoses, and pockets for clamps and jumper cables.

To keep the weight down, Hillenburg built the casework, shelving and most of the totes almost entirely of oak-veneered plywood. He used solid oak sparingly for trim, drawer faces and some smaller totes. The parts are joined together with glue and 2'/2-in. long #8 wood screws, countersunk and plugged with walnut bungs.

For comfort when "knee walking" and to prevent dropped items from rolling about, Hillenburg installed indoor/ outdoor carpet in the cargo bed area, extending it up the walls for soundproofing and insulation. To make the carpet in the bed area easy to clean (and to replace in the event of wear or a permanent stain), 1 lillenburg attached it to removable '/«-in. plywood panels. Scrap carpet glued to the underside of the plywood panels further cushions the workers' knees. A replaceable oak board in front of the back doors absorbs most of the wear and tear of people going in and out and the loading and offloading of equipment.

In daily use, Hillenburg minimizes traffic in and out of the van by having the workers unload all the removable totes and other loose items at the beginning of each workday. Each morning, one person stationed in the van feeds items to people coming to the doors—mostly the large sliding side door. At the end of the day, the totes and other items are blown clean with compressed air on site and then returned en masse to the van. The van is equipped with an alarm system, which activates a beeper on Hillenburg's belt in the event of any suspicious activity during the day.

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