Introduction: Dart Case for Your Pocket With Sliding Dovetail Lid
I made this about 20 years ago, back in the day, when I used to frequent bars and occasionally play darts. The plastic store bought cases were large and rather bulky; I wanted something I could comfortably keep in my pocket. After a few beers I tend to get forgetful and I didn't want to leave my darts somewhere. So after all that time the box is a little dinged up, or you could say it has acquired character. The case holds three darts there is a thumb notch in the back for sliding off the dovetail joined cap (see picture 4) the flights (plastic feathers) friction fit into a slot in the bottom and can be pushed out of the slot by the thumb hole in the back.
BTW the darts I have used the plastic tips for playing in electronic dart boards. Sometimes these tips break off so you need to carry some extras, I opted to carry these loose in my pocket rather than try to incorporate extra storage space for tips in the case.
I just started posting on instructables and I thought this would be a good entry for the make a box contest. Apparently I missed the Fits in the Pocket contest, and I haven't seen an In lieu of a Box Contest yet.
I originally made some redundant pieces and parts when creating the project. I thought I might make more than one and also I knew i would screw some of them up (read on for an example :)
Much like the hundreds of other projects over the years I did not document the process. Some of the following steps were recreated for this instructable, others are photos of pieces and parts i have sadly saved in a box for a couple decades. Hopefully the process will be clear.
CAUTION: This project was made using some power tools in what may be deemed inadvisable ways. (meaning big power tools, cutting small parts). Please be smart with your fingers. Plan out your cuts in such a way to give yourself a little extra wood to hold onto, or construct jigs, or temporarily attach the piece you are cutting firmly to a larger piece.
Step 1: Measure and Draw (To Minimize Size)
Measure everything and see how small you can make it . I tried to keep a minimum wood thickness of 1/8" of wood everywhere between things, but the idea it to make it as small as possible and have all the corners rounded so it fit comfortably in the pocket.
For materials and tools you will need:
3/4" hardwood stock: I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some salvaged walnut.
Router and table and countersink bit
Drill, 5/8" or 3/4" forstner bit, 9/32" bit, 1/8" bit. (darts vary quite a bit in length and diameter. so the sizes you use may differ, measure your darts first, you want the darts to be snug in the case. unfortunately its not one size fits all or I would have made more of them)
Wood glue Lots and lots of sandpaper, course and fine grit.
Polyurethane for finish
Step 2: Cutting the Pieces
Rip the pieces to width, you want pieces for each side, and a center section where the darts and flights will go.
Step 3: Cut Notch for the Flights
This is a dangerous cut. Take small bites, raising a the blade a little bit each time.
Here is an example of where it would be best to attach this piece to another board or create a jig.
the picture above just shows the end result of the cut you are looking for.
Step 4: Dovetail Receiver
My router table is basically just a piece of plastic laminate board with a hole in it an the router bolted to the under side. The fence is a piece of wood clamped (or sometimes screwed) to the laminate board. For making the slot that receives the dovetail key (top of case) clamp down guides that are spaced apart a distance that is the width of your piece + as needed for the overall width of the slot. Practice on some sample pieces till you get it where you want it.
You are pushing the bottom of the piece in first. Anchor a third piece between the two side pieces as a stop as you don't want the slot to go all the way to the top of the piece, see third picture, (ignore the cut or the slopped on glue, those steps come later).
Step 5: The Dovetail Key
This is the piece that is attached to the cap that slides into the dart case, it should be tight enough to stay in place but loose enough it can be slid in an out with just the force of your thumb. This is done by trial and error and a lot of patience. start by making the width of the key a little wider than the receiver slot (previous step) and nibbling away at it until it is the perfect width, you can double stick tape a piece of scrap onto the top to give you something more to hold on to as you work the piece to keep from dovetailing your fingers. In the second photo you see this piece in three stages, first the rough cut, second the end of this piece is rounded to fit into the receiver, again done by trial and error with a knife or sand paper until you get the radis correct. This is why you make extra pieces, a little bit too much off the side and you start over. The third piece in the second pick is with the thumb push indentation sanded out.
Step 6: Drilling the Holes for the Darts
Measure and mark carefully, use the 9/32" (or size to fit your darts) bit to the required depth and use the smaller bit (1/8") to drill out bottom of the hole where the dart tips will reside. I used a doweling jig to make the holes straight (you could use a drill press) measure carefully mark and drill slowly, you want the dart to fit but not wobble around, drill too far and you can't sand off as much as you need to make the case small as possible (more on that to come)
You will need a shim to off-center the wood stock in the doweling jig since the holes your are drilling are not centered on the wood stock but offset (to allow for the slot where the flights and dovetail key will reside).
Step 7: Drill a Hole in the Flight Housing
This is where you will use your thumb to slide out the flights from the slot on the bottom of the case. Put a shim in the slot to keep the wood from breaking or splitting when you apply pressure to the drill.
Step 8: Cut the Pieces to Length.
Cut one end square and one end where the dart shaft will be exposed at a 45 (or less). Clamp the pieces to the fence or use a jig when cutting short pieces to save your fingers.
Step 9: Glue
Glue it all together clamp it and wait.
Step 10: Cut Off the Top
Once the glue has dried cut off the cap. Make sure you have removed the dovetail key, you don't want to cut this in half and make sure the cut is clean and square, the slightest imperfections will show up when you start sanding and you want it to look like it is all one piece. Then glue the dovetail key to the top piece.
Step 11: Sand, Whittle, File, Sand...
Pics show front and back rough sanded first and then nearly compete.
Step 12: Finish
From left to right:
1. Rough Sanded
2. Maybe I'll try the belt sander......"OH! *%$#!@ WHY! WHY! sniffle..."
3. The finish product after a coat of polyurethane and 20 years in my pocket and glove box.