Introduction: Camping Chuck Box
I wanted a Chuck Box, and I looked up designs online, and I found a bunch of really cool ideas. So I designed all the best parts of what I needed, which was lots of counter space. I liked the idea to have a top that opened for extra room and cabinets that swing out to hold those flaps up. But I still wanted the front to open as well.
Some of the ideas I copied are from, Rhonda Cobb's Cookbox on Pintrest, and Expeditionportal.com., as well as a youtube.com video from Lance's Woodshop & Adventure. Thanks to you all.
Step 1: - Design
The best idea that I can tell you is to take all of your camping equipment and stack it up on a table. Start measuring everything and come up with dimensions for you own. However, I will warn you this box is not for youth and it weighs a ton!! (80 LBs. to be exact)
Costs: I tried to build this as cheap as possible, shopping at Habitat for Humanity restores, and gathering some things at garage sales, but here is a list of the materials I used and the costs:
Sheet and a half of 3/4 inch Plywood (Free shipping crate)
Half a sheet of 3/8 inch Plywood for the inner shelves (scrap in the garage)
Box of #8 3/4 inch Screws $4.50
A few Drywall Screws (total of 12) for the handles (Had)
2 Heavy Duty Recessed Handles (found at garage sale) $2.00
New Circular Saw Blade $15.00
Metal chain for the front supports (found at Habitat for Humanity) $2.00
Hinges 4 12 inch and 1 30 inch $28.00
Carabiners for the chain 4 of them $6.00
Dowel Rods, you need about 6 pieces 15 &1/4 length - 2 Rods $4.00
Paper Towel Holder - Wal-Mart $2.97
Step 2: - Build the Main Box
Cut out the bottom the back and the sides. If you are using my measurements, please note that I intended to make 3/4 inch cutouts in each of these pieces so that they fit together like a zipper, see pictures. I also recommend that you label each piece (where it won't be seen) so that you can keep track as you go. For these 4 main pieces I used about 4 inches or so as the cut outs. This is almost a dovetail but way larger. I used the cutout from the L shaped sides as the side of the cabinets. Which we will build in step 4, so don't throw these away. Don't glue these together yet.
Step 3: - Build the Inner Shelves
This step you need to measure and re-measure you items. Putting them in and getting them out as well. I made a mid piece and a shelf that goes on it and then a high shelf. All are fitted together to the mid piece with a routered groove cut into the back and sides.. I also wanted stronger corners and sides so I cut my shelves so that they did not cut into the corners of the back and sides. Still do not glue these together yet, but clamp them up to check fit. I also cut the top and placed it on just to see how it looks. You will also want to make sure that the cabinets do not hit anything inside and have plenty of room to swing. Once you get all the inside the way you want it, I would cut the top. It is the same as the bottom, but measure just to make sure. And remember it should hang over the cut out for the cabinets.
Step 4: - Build the Cabinets
Use the cutouts from the sides as the inner side of each cabinet. You can make each side the same if you want, but I wanted to have room for larger items as well as smaller stuff. I switched sides from my drawing to the finished product for weight (I want a paper towel holder in the top of the right). I made the two sides 3/4 in plywood and the bottom, the top and the back all out of 3/8 inch plywood. I routered a groove for the top back and bottom on each side. For the cabinet with a middle shelf I also cut a groove for it. Once these were cut I glued them together. Then made sure they still fit inside the main box and under the top. I used 2 Dowel Rods instead of more Plywood for the fronts to each shelf. I thought it might be easier to clean this way and it saved on weight. I routered a grove for each dowel, and glued them in as I made them. I made each one go in halfway through each side.
Step 5: - Handles
Before you glue the sides to the bottom and back, I would router out what you need to put in the handles. And remember that the cabinets will swing around and rest against the side to support the top flaps, so it may be important to use handles that are flush mounted or use cut out holes. I also found that the pathetic screws that come with the piano hinges are useless and way too small. I used #8 3/4 inch screws for the piano hinge and drywall screws (very course) 1 & 1/4 inch screws for the handles, because the other screws didn't have a large enough head. I also glued them in. If you use longer than the plywood sides you will need to file off the tips that stick into the box, I found that holding a hacksaw blade made a very close cut and then finished them off with a Dremel tool.
Step 6: - Router
You may want to router all the edges that need a 1/4 inch round over, but make sure you know where your piano hinges are going. I used 4 12 inch piano hinges on the cabinets and the two flaps at the top, and 1 30 inch for the front flap to open.
I routered almost every side of the main box as well as the cabinets, except where I was planning to put the hinges.
Step 7: Glue the Main Box
If you are happy with all the shelves and inside of your box it is time to glue it all together. I used pipe clamps and long 36 inch clamps. Once that is set up, then glue in the shelves. Check the cabinets to make sure they still fit.
Step 8: - Flaps and Front
Now that you have the main box glued, and you know how tall the box is, I would cut the two flaps for the top. I made mine exactly the width of the top cut in to half, and I do not recommend that!! Take off a 1/4 of an inch so you have more room and they shut without hitting each other. Then measure from the top of the box to 3/4 of an inch from the bottom (the hinge will be flat while the front is open, it will be 90 degrees when the front is closed). I also used a can of Spiced Thai Tea to make the corners round, but you might want whatever size corners you like. I cut round corners on the top flaps and the front flap.
When putting on the top flap hinges, I placed a metal ruler in between the boards and it gave the correct space. I also recommend predrilling holes for the screws.
Step 9: Supports and Clasps
I used Carabiners and holes to hold the chain that supports the front flap, because I needed something that did not stick up because the top flaps would hit it and did not hang down or the cabinet would swing into it. Also the front flap closed flush with the cabinets and they slid right under where I needed the chain to be secured to. They were the best choice.
I was thinking of using the cabinet clasps in the second and third picture, but I did not like how they would hang down when the top flaps are open. So I found that a metal "L" bracket held the front flap closed and is usable as a towel holder when the top flap is open.
Step 10: Finishing Up
Now you just need to paint it or stain it. Next I think I am going to add legs. The bottom of each side panel is where I plan to add them. I was thinking 1 & 1/2 inch pipe. Maybe 30 or 32 inch long legs?? I will add more photos when it grows legs.
Next fill the box, I added a paper towel holder on the top of the right cabinet (Walmart $2.97). My Coleman Stove fits in the bottom, and the two buckets I use as sinks fit in the shelf on the right. Pots and pans are stored in the top shelf, etc.
I am using Saw horses for the legs, for two reasons. 1 Added stability, and 2. Less weight. I decided to wood-burn a Boy Scout logo on the front panel.
Overall - If I had to do it again, I would build two smaller boxes that stacked on top of each other. The shear weight of this when it is full, makes it very hard to carry without help. Or I would make it with 1/2 inch plywood for the outer skin and 1/4 inch plywood for the inner parts to help cut down on the weight (80 LBs!! and that is empty!).
Let me know if you have any questions or want a better explanation on steps. Thanks, Luke