Made on MVY: Chris Brooks’ Wooden Totes

Good for carrying whatever you want.

Mr. Brooks uses various pieces of wood from around his shop, and can burn your name into the side. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Chris Brooks, a former editor at the Boston Globe, works at LeRoux at Home, and makes useful things from wood in his basement at home in West Tisbury.

I wanted to make something for each of my four grandchildren that was simple and useful. After I made the four totes, and before I delivered them, my wife showed them to several friends. Pretty soon, I had made and given away 13 of them, so I kept making them. Several went to support two Island organizations — Friends of Family Planning’s Memorial Day Weekend Show, and the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for their annual auction to support their recreation program. So I thought I might test the broader market, with the option of adding engraved names burned into the wood on the front of the totes.

I’ve always worked with wood — Shaker-style country furniture, blanket chests, boxes, lamps, etc. Several years ago I went on a tear, making table lamps from Vineyard driftwood that I sold at LeRoux at Home in Vineyard Haven, where I work part-time. Trouble was, other folks decided to collect driftwood, and my supply dried up.

The trick is to cut parts of several totes at the same time. I generally use lumber that’s around my shop. That’s why the totes have five or six different woods in them. I almost never throw away scraps of wood. There are always uses for all but the smallest pieces. Species of wood that appear in the totes include cherry, mahogany, black oak, pine, birch, walnut, and koa from Hawaii — whatever is on top of the pile.

Mr. Brooks’ wooden totes can be used to hold magazines or coloring books, toys for kids or dogs, or as a beer carrier. Use your imagination, he says. The price is $60, including tax, which includes an optional inscription of a name burned into the box. To order them, contact Mr. Brooks at .508-560-2720