Folding Tool Box - Nail Gun Case

 After buying a lot more tools recently I realized that i'll needed something to carry them in.   At a couple job sites I saw guys that had cloth or canvas tool bags.  These have replaces the old heavy steel tool boxes that have been around for a decade.
cloth tool bag, case

I really like these and I still think I might buy one in the future.   Also they are light weight and have many internal pockets.  I just built an old fashioned wood tool box to hold small hand tools.
wood tool box, weathered, old, rustic

Here's a link to that blog page in case you want to see how i built it.   Wood Tool Box

The other thing that I am still interested in is a YouTube channel called Tested which has Adam Savage, one of the hosts of Mythbusters.  I've watched many of those videos several times including one where he made a wood case for one of his homemade prop guns from the movie Blade Runner. 
adam savage, bladerunner case, felt, leather, make, build

It has multiple hinge points to open up completely.  Plus a drawer on the bottom for additional storage.
fold, folding, leather case, gun

Here's a link to the 30 minute video where he builds the case over the course of 8 hours.

I thought it was really cool how he built the case, wrapped it in fake leather, and lined the inside was felt.  I decided that a great project would be to make a case for my new nail guns that bought a few months back. 
nail gun storage, case

Since buying my six  gallon air compressor Kit which came with two nail guns and a staple gun, they have been just sitting in a plastic milk crate or a red tool box which is too small.
bostitch nail gun, milk crate, storage, protect

So over several weeks I drew different designs of boxes that would hold the nail gun's.  But none of the designs seemed right, they were either too big or too boring.  I didn't want just a plain square box with hinges, lid and handle.  Then while looking at some examples online I noticed a really unique toolbox that a guy named Jeremy Broun made.  He called it a compact toolbox and it was a clam-shell design made of wood.
jeremy broun, folding wood case, clamshel, tool box

At first sight it doesn't look that exciting.  But you'll see in a bit how it opens and what makes it so cool.  I immediately loved the design in its simplicity and usability.  As he says in his YouTube video, big problem with toolboxes is their accessibility.  And I agree that sometimes things are getting the bottom of a tool bag and you won't be able to find it. 

I thought this foldout design would be perfect for my 3 nail guns, I could put the two smaller nail guns on the walls and fit the larger one in the center.  

For more detail you can check out this video i created.  It's a good overview and shows the steps of building the case.

It started with me measuring the three guns side-by-side and determining the smallest shape box I could make and have them all fit.
bostitch nail gun measurement, case, size

One of the problems I was having with my original design of making a square or conventional box case, was how the nail guns would be stored.  With this new clam shell design the problem basically solved itself.  The nail guns would sit vertically and be held in place with little latches.

Folding Tool Box - Nail Gun Case

Before i built anything out of wood i thought that to get a better idea of size and shape, i could make them out of cardboard.  So in about a half hour i built two different shapes.  Here's the first one, this was a square box.
cardboard template, tool box, folding, case

The second one i thought about tapering the upper portion and make it sort of a "house profile" shape.
test fit tool box, cardboard, wood, nail gun

After looking at them for a week or so i decided to make the square version.  It would be easier to build and i wasn't really saving any room by building the tapered version.
tool box test, cardboard, template, plans, pattern

So I bought a sheet of the cheapest wood I could find, 3/8 inch OSB.  This is the same type of boards that I used to make my wooden storage shelves except slightly thinner and lighter.

I measured and cut out the pieces using my circular saw but then the project stopped for a while.  I started working on other things and the boards just sat on my workbench in the basement for months. That was until I bought a new Craftsman table saw.
craftsman table saw, sears, 10

After buying the saw I re-cut the pieces so that the edges were nice and straight  It makes a huge difference, cutting board on a table saw versus a hand circular saw.  I started to assemble the boards and tried to determine how the hinged system would work.
folding tool box frame, nail gun case

You can see from the picture above that i decided on using a copper pipe instead of a piece of wood for the handle.  If i were to make this case again i would have used wood and maybe tried to dovetail it into the side boards.  The metal pipe is ok but i don't like it as much now as i did originally.

Another thing that i should have changed is the hinge system.  I probably should have gone with a couple of normal hinges on each side, but the original design use just a single screw on either side, so I decided to do the same.  For simplicity it worked, but it had its drawbacks.   The main drawback is that the boards are not flush at the bottom, for it to swing open you need to have a 1/4" gap.   It wasn't a huge deal since this is just a toolbox.  But it's something to know if you are trying to make something very nice and realize that there will be this big gap between the boards at the bottom.  

Here's the side panels.  The small square blocks are where the hinge screws would attach to.
sides of the case, wood, screw hinge

The next problem I had was how to mount the nail guns. The obvious answer was to make a wooden mount, which would be a  custom cutout of the inside of the handle.  So I set the nail gun a piece of paper, traced out the inner void, then transferred that onto a 2 x 4 and cut it out. 

Let's just call this pattern version 1.   I realized that it didn't need to be so accurate all I wanted to do was support the nail gun not make a super flush mounting piece of wood.  That's how pattern version 2 came about.  This time I rounded over some of the sharp edges and left off some of the indentations.  I thought this one worked pretty well but it was still too tight.  The whole point is that it should be rugged, quick, and easy to use this one seem to find a precision and wasn't easy for the nail guns to slide on and off.   So finally I made pattern version 3. 

Here's the three versions of wood mounts i made.  You can see that each time they got smaller and more rounded over. 
wood nail gun mount, version

And here's that version 3 set inside of the nail gun.  Looking back i probably could have used just a square block of wood. 
test fit nail gun handle

So I made a another version 3 and glued them to the sides using some weights to hold them in place.
clamp wood handle to tool box

At this point i could see the overall shape.  But there was still a lot of things to add to the inside.
folding tool box, case

Next i started working on the center nail gun mount.  The strongest and easiest solution was to just attach a 2x4 to the bottom panel. 
how to build a case, nail guns, 3, tool box, clamshell

Again, sticking with the simpler is better motto, i made latches for the nail guns by using just a screw and piece of aluminum.  It's basically just a square piece of aluminum with a whole for a screw.  The key is to tension the screw hard enough so that it stays in place but not too hard so that it can't be turned.
easy tool latch

One of the last pieces of hardware was to make a locking latch to hold the sides together.  I used basically the same concept that I held the nail guns in place, but this time I added a small knob and screw which it could lock to.
metal latch, homemade, diy, simple, easy

The great thing about aluminum is that it's strong yet can still be shaped using a metal file.  To make this latch it took lots of cutting, filing and to attach the handle i had to drill and tap it so that a bolt could lock it in place.  But i think it turned out great.

So this is everything basically finished.
nail gun case, box, safe, transport, carry

One final thing i forgot to mention was that my original concept was to use magnets to lock the sides into place.  If you look closely in this picture you can see the round magnet in the upper corner of the center board and a metal bar on the inside corner of the side.  But i learned that the magnets would not be strong enough to hold the sides in place and that's why i had to build the aluminum latch.
how to build a folding tool box, case

There was no real reason for deciding to paint the case white, just that i have a bunch of old cans of white paint in the basement. 
finish, paint, case, tools, box

Although after making the wood tool box that i mentioned in the beginning, i did want to weather the case and make it look old.  

So i did the same thing in terms of finishing.  I applied two coats of white paint, but this time instead of using wax i did two coats of polyurethane.  Now it was time to add the weathering.  If you want to see in more detail how i did it, go back and look at the wood tool box post.  Like before, i used some black and brown paint, brushed it on, then wiped it off. 
weathering techniques, how to, best, easy

This had a huge effect since the wood in this case is OSB and isn't smooth.  The dark paint got deep into all the crevices of the boards.
how to weather a tool box, adam savage

I think it made it look loads better.  It gave it character and a kind of warmth that it didn't have being painted just plain white. 
wood tool box, easy, design, best

Overall i like the case.  It should last a long time.  I still want to make a real nice case with a leather wrap on the outside and felt on the inside, but i haven't found a reason to make it yet.
nail gun case, easy access, design, wood, build, plans


California Vacation - Legoland - Ocean

A couple of weeks ago Karrie and I flew to San Diego to visit Kristina, Kyla and LaRoun.  They live in Chula Vista.  When we checked for things to do in the area, Legoland kept coming up as a popular place.  So we got tickets to the park.  It turned out to be good for 2 days.  I wasn't sure if we would even want to do 2 days, but i was wrong.  The place is huge.  It has an aquarium, rides, and water park.  The first thing we did was the aquarium.
legoland, aquarium, kids, california

It was pretty good.  They had a big shark tank.
what to do in legoland

We spent a few hours in there before we went to see the rest of the park.
legoland aquarium, waterpark

But before we did that we stopped and had lunch.  We brought stuff to eat and it wasn't too much of a hassle to go out to the car and grab the cooler.
best places to eat in legoland, food, california

Since it was over 80 degrees, we spent the rest of that first day in the water park.  It was great.  They had lockers and changing rooms for everyone.  Then there was lots to do like lazy rivers, padded bottom shallow pools for the kids, water slides, and big play areas.  I didn't get any pictures while we were there, i should have brought my GoPro with me that day, but i forgot.  

On our way out we stopped at a couple of rides.
best rides in legoland, california, san diego

The next day we went back to the park and did some of the bigger rides.  They were ok, not Cedar Point but pretty good.  The first day was a Friday and it wasn't too busy.  This second day was a Saturday and it was really crowded. 
fun to do at legoland, park, amusement

Inside the park i noticed this groove of bamboo.  I think it's Moso but i'm not sure.  They were about 50' tall and 4" in diameter.
california moso bamboo

The third day we drove to the ocean.  We walked around La Jolla California, apparently it's one of the wealthiest areas in the US.  We jokingly tried to guess at what some of the houses were worth.  My guess of $2 million seemed reasonable, until i checked and saw that the houses for sale ranged between $12 and $22 million.  We walked along the rocky shore for a while.

pacific ocean view, la jolla california

Then we went to check out the sea lions.  There were about 100 of them just sitting by a little pier. 
sea lions la jolla california

Apparently the entire area stinks really bad because of the animals. 
smell from sealions

Here's another view of the coastline.  The temperature there was about 5-10 degrees cooler then inland because of the breeze. 
la jolla california, ocean view

We drove a little further south to Mission Beach which is several miles long.  There was tons of people and things to do there.  We stopped at a place right on the beach for lunch.  

Here's a panorama picture i took of the beach.
mission beach california, beach view

After getting back to the condo Karrie, Kyla and I went down to the pool to go swimming.  After the water park at Legoland, swimming was all Kyla wanted to do.  

This time i took my GoPro camera with me and it was great in the pool.  The camera is best when there's lots of natural sunlight.

Swimming in the Pool - San Diego http://youtu.be/udIYin4u0DM

After swimming Kyla and i drew some things with sidewalk chalk. 

sidewalk chalk, cheap fun

We wish we could have spent more time down there then 4 days, but it was fun.  And having the 80 degree and sunny weather every day wasn't bad either.


Wood Tool Box

I've always wanted to build a simple wood tool box but i never got around to it, until now.  The look that i had in mind was one of those hundred year old tool boxes sitting in the back corner of an old barn.  The type of tool box that's been used for years carrying old tools and parts.  Something that looks beat up and worn down. 

Also I think the point of toolboxes like this are that they are made of scrap wood that you have lying around.  So after looking on the wood shelf I have, which stores all my wood, I found some scrap boards to use.  Here was my selection of wood to use.
2x4 shelf, wood shelf, easy to build storage shelf

For the end pieces I had some 3/4" thick by 16" high pieces of pine.   And for the side pieces I used some scrap plywood.   Originally my plan was to use old would from junk pallet boards, but they weren't so much as worn as they were cracked.  So I used plywood.  I cut it to size using my new-to-me Craftsman table saw.  Usually i spend some time drawing out ideas before i start building anything.  This time i just quickly sketched up a few profiles for how i wanted the end piece to look and started building.
sketch, tool box, ideas, simple, plan, pattern

Here's a video i did of the entire build.  I explain and show pretty much every step in building the wood tool box.

Wood Tool Box - Simple Homemade Design


Now i said that i didn't spend much time drawing anything up before i began.  But i did spend a lot of time looking at other tool boxes to get ideas for the shape that i wanted.  There's a million different shapes I could've gone with, but I liked the look of the simple bell curve the best.  So I got a piece of paper and drew out a shape that would fit on the end boards.  I drew it out on the board first, transferred that to the paper, then traced that with a thick Sharpie marker.
tool box pattern, plan

After tracing the pattern onto the wood I cut it out with the jigsaw.  Then I used the router to round over the top edge so that it didn't have such sharp corners.

For the handle I decided that i wasn't going to use the typical wood dowel that everyone would use.  I was looking for something more natural and rustic.  So I went in the backyard and started cutting some branches.  There is a tree which grows in the corner of my yard, I'm still not sure what kind of tree it is, but all of the branches are twisted and curved.  The other bonus is that the wood is very hard.  So after cutting about six or seven handles sized branches I took them down to the basement.  Out of those seven branches, these two looked the best.
twisty wood branch, tree branch, wood handle

I used a forcner bit too cut the hole for the handle.  It took some scraping with the wood rasp to get the handle to fit correctly.  I didn't want it to be flush with the edge of the toolbox, I wanted it to stick out a little, again for that rustic look.
building a wood tool box

After I knew the handle would fit snugly it was time to glue and nail it together.  Here is what it looked like before it was all assembled.  Super simple.
easy to build wood tool box, make, glue, nail, wood

A quick sand and i was ready to add the finish.  A picture that i forgot to take was the work i spent on the handle.  I used the rasp to remove the bark, used sandpaper to smooth it all down, then added stain and wax.  I thought it would look cool to have the box be painted and the handle a natural color.  So i covered the handle with masking tape to protect it while i was painting.
finish wood tool box, paint, how to

To finish the rustic look I decided that I should paint it and then roughing up the paint to make it look old.  I used some of that same red eight that I used for my welder cart and miter saw stand.  Here's the first coat.  It looks a bit bright at this point.
make an old looking tool box

By the second coat it starts to get more of a dark/rich red color.
old tool box

Time to start "weathering" the tool box.  Weathering is when you intentionally make something look old.  I got the idea from Adam Savage from Mythbusters, who is also part of the site Tested.  He used to be a movie prop maker and many of his jobs included weathering object to make them look more natural in the movies.  

My plan was to wet everything down, then add black and brown paint in random patches.  Immediately applying the paint i wiped it off with a rag.  The cracks and crevices would not be able to be wiped clean and stay a dark color.  Here's what it looked like as i was weathering the tool box.
how to weather, weathering techniques

Now this is the first time i tried to weather something and i think it turned out ok.  I definitely like the tool box better looking old and worn then if it were brand new and shiny.  After a few hours i felt like it was looking good, so i thought it was ready for a finish top coat.  I had to decide between use polyurethane and wax. 
easy homemade tool box, diy, wood, paint

I ended up using wax, which you can see on the left.  I'm glad i did, the wax gave it more of a natural finish.
cool easy to make tool box

Here's another picture.  I think it turned out well.  And i'm happy that i left the handle unpainted.
great project, tool box, wood, build, make

I'm still not sure what I'm going to put in the toolbox may be some screws or hand tools that I'm constantly using.  But overall it was a nice quick and easy project that should hopefully last for many years.