Introduction: Make a Recycled EDC for Repairmen

What is an EDC? It's short for an Every Day Carry. It's the things that you'll need to handle repair jobs.

I like to recycle old tool cases for my EDCs. Sure I could buy a new box or bag but I have all these old tool cases that are really sturdy and should work fine. My old one is wearing out, the latches are falling off and the tools I keep in it are slowly outgrowing the case. I have an old angle grinder case that despite being an odd size, is extremely well built. It looks like it would work really well.

Materials

  • An old tool case to convert. Preferably one with good latches.
  • I needed something to divide up the space in mine. I used materials I had available like a piece of acrylic and a plastic tub.

Tools

  • Paint thinner paper towels and sandpaper for removing old logos.
  • A dremel for making dividers if you're going to use acrylic.
  • A utility knife to cut through lighter plastic.
  • A heat gun to shape plastic may be useful.

This case is heavier than my old one. It's pushing the limit of what I'd like to carry but my old case wouldn't hold my 12" channel locks or my multimeter. I'm hoping the extra space and having those tools readily available will pay off.

Step 1: What Goes in My EDC?

I'm a repairman. I walk into an apartment with a description of "My heat isn't working" and find out they meant the electric coil on their stovetop is cracked and isn't working. Okay, most days it's better than that but not usually much better. I can't haul all my tools around, there's too many. The other day I got a call that a window wouldn't close and I found out I had to fabricate a window rail out of wood. I needed a tablesaw, and I can't carry one of those with me.

So the point of the EDC is to have the tools I need to at least diagnose problems and if I'm really fortunate, fix them.

What do I carry? (in order of importance)

  • Leatherman Wave (not in this picture because it stays in my pocket)
  • 11 function screwdriver, mostly a life saver because of the nut driver functions
  • Sharpie marker
  • Utility knife
  • Small flashlight
  • Channel locks (I recommend the 12" Vice Grip locking pliers)
  • Capacitive line tester (the little pen tester for non contact electric line testing)
  • Garbage disposal wrench, (or equally sized allen wrench) I work on a lot of garbage disposals, YMMV
  • Lineman's pliers, mine also include wire strippers which are also very useful
  • Measuring tape (not pictured)
  • Electrical tape
  • Digital multimeter
  • Dummy light as a back up when the multimeter blows a fuse (I should really stop doing that)
  • Stubby screwdriver, mine has the advantage of multiple tips and it ratchets. It's important that a tool multitasks
  • Small locking pliers for tight spaces and shut offs
  • Various small format screwdrivers. The brass screwdriver has four progressively smaller screwdrivers in it and the blue Philips
  • Allen wrench sets. I don't need these often, but they usually come in handy for shower handles
  • Some cyanoacrylate glue
  • Outlet tester (if you have the other testers, this is more of a convenience)
  • Case of screwdriver tips
  • Alligator clip jumpers (these are a bit wimpy, I need to make beefier ones)
  • Screen tool
  • Insulated screwdriver (the green one)
  • I have a aerator wrench (the small blue thing) but i almost never use it.
  • I also pack a bulb to plug converter in case I can't find a plug but so far haven't needed it.

Step 2: Preparing the Case

I don't mind the logo on the case but a tool maker's logo on my cases has caused people to question what I was hauling around. My last case had a logo, but it was hard to see. This one is pretty obvious.

How can I get it off though? I started with some paint thinner. At first it didn't seem like it was making a difference. Then I tried some 220 grit sandpaper then rubbed with paper towel and paint thinner some more and started to make progress. It took five or six alternations of sandpaper and paint thinner but it came off nicely.

Step 3: Sizing Up the Case

This case is really deep. It also has two small compartments that would be nice to use if things wouldn't fall out of them when I opened up the case.

In the past, I tend to set my case down and then open it like a briefcase. If I used this case like that, the upper lid is a lot of wasted space.

It would be great if I could contain items in the lid section of the case. At first I thought about using bungee cords to strap tools in, but there wasn't an easy way to do it. I also couldn't find my bungee cords.

I did a dry fit and all my tools fit with room to spare, if I can use the upper part of the case.

Step 4: Making the Main Divider

I had a piece of thick acrylic left over from some fish tank work I was doing. Fortunately it was just big enough.

I used a sharpie marker to draw the edge of the case on to the film protecting the acrylic. Then I used a cut off wheel on my dremel to cut the sheet to size. I cleaned up the edges with sandpaper and then cut a finger sized hole in the top so I can pull the panel out. After that I removed the protective coatings.

The divider is really transparent. It sits snug in the case, recessed just a bit. You can see it on the intro step and the next but it barely shows up on camera. That's nice for locating tools without removing the divider.

It still needs some way to lock it in. Yesterday on the job it stayed in place most of the day, but at one point popped out when I opened the case. It seems like a simple solution should be workable. A small ridge or two on the bottom and then some kind of latch at the top might work but I haven't settled on how to do it yet.

Step 5: Making the Small Divider

Acrylic wasn't going to work for this divider. This needed some kind of flap.

I got an old ice cream bucket, cut out the bottom and a side with a utility knife and then trimmed the piece to size, leaving extra material on the one end. Using a heat gun, I bent the plastic to meet the shape of the small chamber. Now I had a U shape that slid in place, but it would fall out when I opened and closed the case.

Using some cyanoacrylate glue, I applied a liberal layer to the side of the flap and glued it in place. I trimmed back the opposite flap a little to make it possible to open.

Step 6: Decorate

I used a piece of construction paper to make a stencil and some spray paint that I had in the basement to make my EDC label. It's a little silly. It's not like I'm going to forget that this is my EDC.

You might want to stencil your initials on it if you work with others. Tool boxes get jumbled sometimes even when people are honest.

I made my stencil by drawing an outline on my construction paper and then cut it out with my utility knife. Placed it over the case and sprayed.

The paint is not perfect, but I'm really fine with that. It gives the case a home made edgy look that I like. People can tell I repurposed something.

Step 7: Things I Would Like to Do

I'd like to have a slide in cell phone holder on the outside of the case. I don't have a suitable holder and I use a beefy protective case on my phone so I'm not sure how to have both.

I could clean up some of the tool ridges inside the case. I thought of using them as anchor points for something, but that didn't pan out. I'll leave them for now and think about it.

I'd still like some bungees to hold things in the upper part of the lid.

Comments

author
msiena1 (author)2014-12-24

I work in a jail and my tools have to be under lock and key. I hacked an old dewalt box by cutting out the dividers.
I took some 12 solid wire
And put it each hole in the ends that look like they were there for straps and put my tool belt though. Still using it to this day i covered the logos with union/patriotic stickers.

author
EmmettO (author)msiena12014-12-25

Interesting! I've noticed that the box I'm using has a hole for a padlock and two holes on either end that I could hook a strap to. I'm not a big fan of shoulder straps though. This case would be a bit too bulky to hang off a belt. Maybe I could hang things off them.

author
f.dufourg (author)2014-12-21

You can use grid-it or DIY equivalent to hold your furniture in the case. I have one in my messenger bag and it is really pratical to avoid mess in the bag.

Look here for example https://www.instructables.com/id/Suitcase-Organizer/

author
EmmettO (author)f.dufourg2014-12-21

Interesting, I probably don't need the whole grid strap system. A small subset of the straps would probably be fine. I think I have some strapping that would work.

author
Robibame (author)2014-12-20

cool tool box, nicely done.

author
neo71665 (author)2014-12-18

Instead of bungee cords look into some closed cell foam and shadowing the tools to fit. Also makes it easy and fast to see if anything is missing at the end of the job/day. I use an old dewalt drill case to hold all my meters and test equipment I donev that to.

author
EmmettO (author)neo716652014-12-19

Interesting, I'll think about that option. How did you manage the leads for the meters?

author
neo71665 (author)EmmettO2014-12-19

I have a bunch of velco cord wraps I was given from a fluke dealer at a trade show years ago. They sell the same basic thing minus the fluke logo (and overpriced tag) for cable mangement on computer desks. You can sew some velco and make them just as easy.

author
ablackmore (author)2014-12-18

great idea for any repair man!

have you thought about using a magnet for a latch? doesn't have to be strong. just enough that it won't pop open

author
EmmettO (author)ablackmore2014-12-19

Magnets hmmm? That could work, I'll update with pictures if I get that going.

author
dpatterson13 (author)2014-12-18

I use to have toolboxes setup for EDC, but after the theft of the 2nd one i had no choices left but to demand more from less. This is very nice; ideal for apartment/property maintenance needs!

author
EmmettO (author)dpatterson132014-12-19

Thank you! I've have a few tools go missing periodically, usually the nice ones, but not a whole case. That would be painful!

author
Straklin (author)2014-12-18

Nice EDC. Im sending this to a friend who is a repair man as well. Great job!

author
EmmettO (author)Straklin2014-12-19

Thanks! Have him post pictures if he makes one! Or make one as a gift?

author
doc.kennedy (author)2014-12-18

Great post! You put a good deal of thought into your presentation (and EDC development).

author
EmmettO (author)doc.kennedy2014-12-19

Thank you! Not having the right tool is the thing a repairman agonizes about. Hitting the right balance of utility vs weight is a constant battle. I've had a few of these before so hopefully this one will serve me well.

author
Wolfbane221 (author)2014-12-18

I wouldn't have thought of putting a screen tool in it. you could epoxy a pocket for the cellphone on the outside?

author
EmmettO (author)Wolfbane2212014-12-19

I repair a lot of screens! :P

After using this EDC a few days I'm not sure if I should do a cell phone holder at this point. It's already pushing the limits of how big I like my EDCs and I'd worry it would get whacked. Maybe if I cut a hole in the side of the case, and then made a little compartment, I could slide it inside? I'll think about that today.

author
seamster (author)2014-12-18

I've got a pile of old cases like this, just waiting to be put to good use. An EDC, especially in your line of work, is a brilliant idea!

author
EmmettO (author)seamster2014-12-19

Show us pictures if you do!

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Bio: EmmettO is a general mad scientist, blacksmith, metalcaster and former Unix admin. Now he fixes darn near anything that people throw at him and breaks ... More »
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