My son is going to Boy Scout Camp in mid June. They ask that each boy
have a footlocker. They said to just pick one up at WallyWorld or
I went to look at what they had to offer and wasn't particularly
So, I figured I'd just cobble up a footlocker.
I have some half inch cherry ply left over from a job and some nice
brass hardware left over from a different job. I figure I can make
this thing with no outlay.
My thought was that I would use finger joints in the corners, house
the bottom in a plough, lay the top in a rabbet, and that would make a
Then I figured I'd put a pinrail on the inside and sit a divided tray
Has anyone made one of these before? I'd hate to build something
stupid because I didn't ask enough questions about it.
Thos.J.Watson - Cabinetmaker
Like Charlie mentioned you may want to think about weight. Wood would be
very cool unless it was heavy and had to be moved around by a young'en. We
always used a plastic container that resembled a large ice chest except with
out the insulation. A big plus is that they are water resistant, rain is not
a problem. Usually you can find these in the larger sporting goods stores.
Just a thought.
I'll second the "big plastic box" idea. Wally world and similar often
have something of that sort in the general region of automotive cruft
that they claim is a toolbox or some such. My mother, who retired from
being a missionary around a year ago, recommended one of them when I
visited her as they are sturdy, hold a lot, and don't weigh that
much--all concerns for international air travel. The fact that they're
pretty inexpensive is also a plus.
There's a reasonably detailed couple of articles on "Making one's own
steamer and wardrobe trunks" in the fourth of the (original) Popular
Mechanics Boy Mechanic series, such as Lee Valley has available as a
reprint (pages 328-329 and 331-333). It appears from google books that
it's also in the modern edition reorganized from the originals (pages
51-57). Their basic design uses 1/2" plywood or boards, butt jointed to
form a box, glued and nailed, and then sawn asunder to form a chest and
a top. The outside is covered in heavy fabric glued on (theatrical
"scenic linen"--probably canvas?), the opening reinforced with
essentially angle iron pieces, and 2" x 1/4" slats attached at the edges
and across the faces for reinforcement.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot
Just a comment, but for that "heavy fabric, glued on", my temptation
would be fiberglass and epoxy.
But I'd also go for the "big plastic box". If you don't like the
cheap ones at Wally World, a Pelican 1630 should do the job. Not
pretty, but waterproof and tough--drop a motorcycle on one at 50 mph
and all that happens is that it gets scuffed up a bit.
It weighs in at 36 lbs.
Two pounds more than the comparable store bought model.
I think that couple of pounds, or more, is in the cast brass hardware.
Thos.J.Watson - Cabinetmaker
I've used my old, original Vietnam era wooden Army footlocker for portable
microphone storage for over thirty years, and the two 1x1 "runners"
(spanning front to back on the bottom panel, and spaced a couple inches in
from each side), are a nice touch to keep the footlocker bottom off the
ground and high and dry.
I would consider this "feature" mandatory for a scout camp footlocker and
something you might want to consider in your design.
The three Tejas boys chimed in within five minutes of each other. Are
y'all playing cards together tonight?
Thanks for the tips. They're some gooduns.
Thos.J.Watson - Cabinetmaker
I made a couple half-trunks for my sons to take to Scout camp... After a
week in a tent I needed to refinish both. As an after-thought entered them
in a couple shows... after winning ribbons for them twice I'm not sure I
want them going back to camp but they are my sons' now! See ABPW.
My boy is a few years ahead of yours on the scouting trail. He'll be
working on his Eagle project this summer. I wouldn't waste good
cherry ply on anything for scouts to use. Regardless of your boy's
highly tuned appreciation for fine things and the work you and he will
put into his foot locker, the boys loading the truck will see it as
just another piece of cargo. It will come back looking like it's been
dragged down a gravel road behind a pickup. If you must build a
footlocker, use something cheap. Use 1/2 ply. It's strong enough to
sit on, but light enough to carry. I built some patrol boxes that
have held up pretty well except for the gouges in every surface.
Overall dimensions should be somewhere around 18 X 18 X 32 so it will
stack well with the other boxes in the truck.
Rubbermaid makes an "Action Packer" in several sizes. The 35 gallon
one sells for about $70. It is water-proof, impact-resistant and
almost scout-proof. It's pretty much standard fare for scout camp.
Resist the urge to get the bigger 48 gallon one. Scoutmasters hate
them cause they take up so much room in the truck, and the 35 gallon
one is big enough.
Hope your boy enjoys summer camp and gets as much out of Boy Scouts as
"The best things in life . . . aren't things."
Been there. Done that. Don't waste your time and money. Whatever you
send will be trashed at the least and probably almost destroyed. Boy
Scouts is great but awfully hard on all concerned. By all I mean the
equipment and folks. All in all this makes it more fun and meaningful.
Lots of lessons to be learned.
Birch ply, as it's lighter.
Avoid finger joints in ply. They aren't especially strong and they're
a pain to cut. I'd use thin splines (biscuits are too deep, unless you
can do minis), and I'd use vertical triangular strips inside as
reinforcement. You're much better off making it from thinner ply that
needs a corner block than from thicker ply that weighs more for the
side panel. Construction is speeded if you make it as a solid cuboid,
then saw the lid off. The lid doesn't need much height, but a bit of a
rim to it makes it _much_ stronger. You can also fasten a stretchy
cloth mesh strip inside the lid to make pockets to stop small stuff
getting lost inside.
One big question is how the lid hinges. Does it hinge up and back just
enough, then be supported there by a couple of tape straps? Or is it
like an ammo box, where it's as thin as possible and then double
hinges allow it to flop right over the back and out of the way?
Handles are spliced rope beckets (loops) on each end, held under a
routed channel in a ply escutcheon. Use good quality soft-surfaced
rope, to save your fingers when carrying it. Put enough twist into it
when you make the splice (a "hard splice") so that the ring is fairly
self-supporting, again to save your fingers. The escutcheons also
thicken up the sides to support locks or catches. If the loops are
long enough, you can also carry it between two of you on a palanquin
A pair of shallow runners underneath makes it more rot-resistant and
easier to slide in and out of estate cars.
A couple of boxes of tacks can be used to make a "nailed" design on
the surface. Cooler than paint, if they're into older history more
Japanese toolboxes (in the Taunton book) have a nice sliding lid
design. I made one of these where the slide is blocked by a rotating
wooden plate (carved into a pirate skull) to lock it, and simple push-
lock cylinders in each eye locked the skull in place. It took the
recipient a whole afternoon to open it for the first time, even with
the key. They had to pry the squishy rubber eyeball out of the socket
to see the keyhole first... 8-)
On Fri, 30 May 2008 10:33:52 -0700 (PDT), Andy Dingley
Most "flight cases", by outfits like Anvil and Calzone, and seen on
stages everywhere, are simply birch ply covered with laminate.
The cases are lighter than they look when empty.
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
Yup, an old acquaintance of mine makes a living building road cases in
Rochester NY. Baltic Birch and.....not just any laminate. A specially
Holy shit... I just Googled him... guess he sold out a couple of years
I'll try to dig up the sources for all those nifty locks and corners.
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