Introduction: Improve Hinges on Plastic Toolboxes

Picture of Improve Hinges on Plastic Toolboxes

Molded plastic toolcases and toolboxes are handy, but their snap together hinges sometimes come unhinged. I have one such toolbox that would unhinge each time I opened the lid. See the second photo. Getting the hinge parts back together usually requires two hands and is an annoyance. This Instructable shows my solution to the problem.

Step 1: Drill Holes in the Case

Picture of Drill Holes in the Case
Drill a small diameter hole above and below each hinge nearest to the outside edge of the toolcase or toolbox. Some plastic toolboxes have more than two hinges, but if this modification is made to those hinges nearest to the hinges farthest left and farthest right, that will be sufficient.

On many toolboxes and toolcases there is room between the hinge and part of the box to pass a wire. This makes for a tighter reinforcement of the hinge and means only one hole must be drilled. See step 7.

  • Needlenose pliers and wire cutter
  • Drill and small bit
  • Thin steel wire about 22 gauge

Step 2: Push Wire Through the First Hole

Picture of Push Wire Through the First Hole

Open the case and push the wire through one of the holes from the inside.

Step 3: Push the Wire Through the Other Hole

Picture of Push the Wire Through the Other Hole

Make a "C" bend in the wire and push the end through the other hole. Do this for both hinges.

Step 4: Cut the Wire

Picture of Cut the Wire

Leave the wire ends a little long. Cut the wire.

Step 5: Begin to Twist the Wire

Picture of Begin to Twist the Wire

Make a twist in the two wire ends, but leave the twist away from the hinge. Open and close the case to make certain the lid moves freely without the wire binding or becoming tight. Move the twist if necessary.

Step 6: Finish Twisting

Picture of Finish Twisting

Finish twisting the wire ends together. Bend the twisted ends over to keep them out of the way as much as possible. Try to make the ends so they will not scratch hands or stab fingers.

When finished, the wire loops should be tight enough that the hinges cannot unhinge, but loose enough that the lid of the toolcase or toolbox has free movement. These wire loops will make your toolcases and toolboxes much easier and less frustrating to use.

Step 7: One Hole, Tighter Wrap

Picture of One Hole, Tighter Wrap

If there is space between the hinge frame and one half of the toolbox, drilling one hole only and wrapping the wire more tightly around the hinge and its pin is ideal. This is another toolbox than the one shown in the introduction. It was very bad about unhinging every time I opened it. There was space to wrap the wire more tightly around the hinge. Now the hinges work just fine.


steinie44 (author)2017-03-25

I just use small cable ties.

Pat Pending (author)2014-05-28

Hi Phil, I've used cable ties to reinforce/replace hinges - their flat profile makes them very useful for this application.

Phil B (author)Pat Pending2014-05-29

Thank you for the idea.

rimar2000 (author)2013-07-16

Good repairing work, Phil.

Some days ago I discovered that PET strips are ideal to stitch plastic pieces. You must cut them at appropriate width to pass trough the holes. When finished and anchored the stitch, the heat air gun completes it, shrinking the PET.

graydog111 (author)rimar20002013-09-29

You have indeed sparked my curiosity and interest. I am like Phil. I don't know what "PET strips" but here is what I found by Googling it:
Thanks for the reply. I can use that idea.

rimar2000 (author)graydog1112013-09-30

No, graydog111, I refer to strips cut from a PET soda bottle using a scissor. I cut them about 2 or 3 mm width. These you saw are too wide to serve for that work.

graydog111 (author)rimar20002013-09-30

Thank you rimar2000

Phil B (author)rimar20002013-07-16

Thank you, Osvaldo. I confess that I do not know what PET is.

rimar2000 (author)Phil B2013-07-17

PET stands for PolyEthylene Terephthalate, Phil, it is the main plastic used in soda pop bottles. It is thermo srinkable, so you can do many interesting and useful things wiht it.

HibbityDibbity (author)rimar20002013-07-31

Osvaldo, do you know if you can use soda bottles for heat shrinking, or does the bottle manufacturing process make that useless? (I guess I could just heat one up and try...)

rimar2000 (author)HibbityDibbity2013-08-01

Yes, soda bottles work very well for heat shrinking, specially the thin part.

Phil B (author)rimar20002013-07-17

Thank you for adding to my storehouse of information. You have a very interesting concept.

graydog111 (author)2013-09-29

Phil, I buy cases like that (and old briefcases) at swap meets to store things in. I have nail guns in 2, auto air conditioning tools in 1,electrical tools in 1. tire repairs in1, etc, When I need to change or patch a tire, I just grab the "TIRE" case since it has everything I need.

IzNoGuD (author)2013-07-17

zip ties are more durable

Phil B (author)IzNoGuD2013-07-17

Recht herzlichen Dank! Meine Meinung, Kabelbinder sind ein bisschen zu dick und unbiegsam. Aber, Sie dürfen sie probieren. Melde mal später an, bitte.

IzNoGuD (author)Phil B2013-07-18

Funktioniert beides, ich habe gute Erfahrungen damit gemacht, besonders als kompletter Ersatz für Schaniere. Zum BeIspiel bei Kunststoffeimern und Deckeln (kann man kein Scharnier anschrauben) oder bei Holzkisten aus weichem Holz da wirkt Draht bzw. verdrillter Draht beinahe wie ein Sägedraht. Ich habe einmal ein bewegliches Hängeschild für einen Geburtstag aus einzelnen Brettern die mit Kabelbindern zusammengehalten wurden gemacht. (das Schild wurde danach recycled) liebe Grüße.

Phil B (author)IzNoGuD2013-07-18

Ja, die Kabelbindern sind oftmals eine gute Lösung des Problems.

IzNoGuD (author)Phil B2013-07-18

Melde mal später an, bitte. <-- das habe ich nicht verstanden.

Phil B (author)IzNoGuD2013-07-18

Wenn man eine Nachricht über was gibt, glaube ich das Wort anmelden ist oftmals benutzt. So hörte ich in Deutschland, "Herr Schmidt hat angemeldet er kommt nicht."

IzNoGuD (author)IzNoGuD2013-07-17

einfach haltbarer

Bill WW (author)2013-07-18

I broke the hinge on our ice chest cooler last week. Will try your method, thank you.

Or maybe I'll use PolyEthylene Terephthalate, thanks to Osvaldo. Glad you asked him what the heck is PET. He has mentioned PET before but I did not ask.

yopauly (author)2013-07-17

I have used wire for way longer than zipties existed. I use aircraft stainless aircraft safety wire and a twisting tool. The tool was purchase 40 years ago and have used it thousands of times.

iceng (author)2013-07-16

Nice one Phil.
Some plastics people are trying to fill up our refuse piles with poor designs.

BTW I personally know a local single box injection plant doing the the non-separable
hinge. The interesting thing is; as soon as the mold releases the base and top,
it must be immediately while still hot, flexed several times to make the hinge work and
last for best lifetime !


Phil B (author)iceng2013-07-16

Thanks. The inseparable box you know must cost more if it requires that kind of attention.

iceng (author)Phil B2013-07-16

A continuous operation. the gloved worker blows the box out of the mold, picks it up and flexes it while turning to drop it in the out container.

About This Instructable




Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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