Introduction: Booze Toolbox

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The Booze Toolbox

An "Up-cycled" Toolbox Becomes a Mobile Liquor Cabinet

I have a couple friends who like a particular brand of liquor and decided to make them each a gift for storing their favorite booze as a kit of sorts, using a couple old toolboxes I bought at a garage sale.

This Instructable covers my build and hopefully will spur you to build something from ideas you may already have floating around in your head or sketchbook. There's nothing complicated or too time consuming here, so I hope someone gets inspired by this build to do something fun of their own to share with the Instructables community.

These build instructions do not include measurements/etc, as I assume if you attempt to replicate this, you will be using different bottles and different toolboxes. The general steps should cover most of what you need to replicate this in other toolboxes, using liquor, beer, or wine bottles.

Good luck, and thanks so much for viewing this Instructable!

Step 1: Source Some Materials....and Workspace.

So this project happened dynamically...I bought some toolboxes that looked cool at a garage sale with no clear purpose...and then I had a want to make some gifts for a couple I ended up sourcing things 'as I went' as things made sense. If you want to closely replicate this project, here's a brief list of materials....your needs may vary based on your creative license.

  • Toolbox: Yardsales/flea markets are great. I found some great ones at a garage sale. Any shape, any size will work. A smaller one might work for a bottle of wine, or a larger one for something like what I've built here.
  • Booze: Well, if you go the booze route, that's the fun part. I bought three types of the same brand of whiskey in various sizes. The local liquor store manager was surprisingly helpful, and let me measure various bottles in store and even 'special ordered' a couple bottles for me. I owe that guy! Obviously, if you're doing wine...or cigars...or sparkling can figure all that out with some local experts.
  • Peripherals Items: In my case, I was lucky in being able to visit the website of the particular liquor vendor I used, and purchase a number of branded items to really 'dress up' my kit. A couple highball glasses, coasters, and shot glasses with the liquor's logo really made this kit be more than just a 'liquor carrier'. I was also able to get some authentic labels by visiting the distillery in person.
  • Paint/Cloth/etc: I ended up using closed cell foam to form the shapes in which to seat the items in the kit. A quick visit to JoAnn Fabrics scored me the cotton cloth I covered the kit with, and a little spray adhesive was easy to find for adhering fabric to the foam, and the foam to the toolbox. I bought some clear Krylon to coat the outside of the toolbox which can be sourced locally at any hardware store, or big box store.
  • Workspace: You'll need a workspace that allows for spraying adhesive, but then a cleaner space to fit up your materials as you won't want dirty sawdust/etc on your cloth or your materials.
  • Tools: I ended up using a bandsaw, razor, a couple squares, pencils/sharpies, ruler, and that's about it. This is a pretty simple project that doesn't require many resources.

Step 2: Take Some Measurements

To start to understand your possible layout options, you'll want to measure your toolbox and compare those measurements to whatever liquor/wine bottles you want to store inside. I found through measuring that I was able to house one "full size" bottle, and a couple small bottles. Be sure to consider things like if your toolbox internal dimensions "shift" when the unit is closed. In my case, the shelves folded inside and dropped lower, and I had to account for that when measuring.

Step 3: Mock Ups - Experiment to See What Looks Good

After cleaning out my toolbox, I experimented with various placements of the items I was going to put inside. These photos show some of the various placement options I explored. I took photos of each and kept reviewing them until I decided on a final layout. Spending some time on this step and exploring various setups can result in better outcomes....I experimented with symmetrical and asymmetrical layouts until I found something I felt worked.

Step 4: Create Templates/Guides Before Cutting

In order to not waste my limited rubber material I cut templates from cardboard to use as guides for cutting the rubber. Using some simple measurements of each bottle I was able to create cardboard templates and test fit them over each bottle. Cardboard templates are more durable than paper, and their rigidity is helpful when transferring the pattern to the rubber. Be sure to allow for the thickness of any cloth when creating templates. It's probably better to have a little wiggle room rather than have things so tight they don't fit.

Step 5: Transfer Template Patterns and Start Cutting

Using the cardboard templates from the previous step, you can transfer the cut pattern to the rubber with a pencil or razor. I was cutting from 1.5" rubber using a bandsaw. I made marks strong enough so I could see them even with rubber dust flying. I cut rubber blanks to fit within my exact toolbox dimensions, then cut out the 'seat' area for each item going in the box. Originally, I tried using plywood rather than rubber but that took WAY too long and wasn't going to finish as well without extra work. You can certainly use wood but that comes with its own problems. I also test fitted my bottles after cutting each rubber piece, and often had to do some trimming as my templates were less than perfect.

Step 6: Test Fit Rubber and Items

After cutting out the rubber piece, I did several test fits. I would test fit, then trim pieces to adjust them...then test fit again until things were right. Patience here will save you hassle later. Spend time getting these pieces to fit correctly, and also consider if there is any issue with how to 'fit' the piece in. For instance, in my case, I couldn't make the main bottom pieces as one unit and still be able to fit them easily. I chose to make the main bottom piece in two halves, which caused a visible seam but reduced complications later from flexing the rubber with cloth on it to fit it between the shelves to install it.

Step 7: Covering the Rubber in Cloth

Covering the rubber in cloth is one of the trickier parts. Depending on the fabric you choose it may or may not hide the glue may not allow you to stretch out wrinkles...and it may not wear well. You could go complicated and stitch together custom fit covers, or you could do what I did, which is adhere cloth to the rubber using spray adhesive. I chose a cotton that was thick enough it hid the rubber seams and didn't soak through with the spray adhesive...but thin enough that I was able to stretch it to remove some of the wrinkles. If you have a wheel cutter that works best, but scissors work fine. If you want to save a few bucks, you can ask for 'remnants' at your local cloth shop rather than buying full price material. I got several colors from the cloth shop and tried various by laying them in position loosely and laying in the bottles to see which color looked best to me.

To apply the cloth, I sprayed the rubber as well as the back of the cloth and let the spray adhesive dry enough to get tacky. Then I overlaid the cloth and forced each bottle into position which stretched the cloth. While the glue was still not fully bonded and with the bottle in place, I would work out each wrinkle by hand by stretching/pulling/tugging the cloth.

Step 8: Finishing the Exterior of the Toolbox

My plan was to keep as much of the original look of the toolbox as possible, including scratches, etc. So I elected to just use a wirebrush to knock off the major rust, then do a heavy clearcoat using quick dry Krylon. A little brushing, a wipedown with acetone, and then a couple coats from the rattle can gave me the look I wanted. If you want to go to something a bit nicer, you may want to do some sanding and freshen the base color before covering it with a clear coat type spray.

Step 9: Adding Little Details

I debated what to do with the second tray of my toolbox. Eventually I settled on a mix of coverings of cloth and liquor bottle labels. If you can't get 'real' labels from your bottle of choice, a quick Google image search and a printer should allow you to come of with 'labels' from your preferred brand. I simply cut and glued my labels into the bottoms of each tray, and alternated this with putting cloth in the bottoms of other trays. You can get pretty creative here. I toyed with putting 'lids' on the open trays, but then elected to go this route.

Step 10: Final Install

After covering all your rubber you can do a final install of all of the cloth covered rubber materials. The first photo here is of all my covered rubber fully installed ready for placement of all the booze. After install of the covered rubber, the only step left is to drop in your bottles and other items you've set the box up to hold. Ultimately, my box came out mostly like I wanted, and I learned a few things. I hope this build helps you come up with your own idea, and I'd love to see some better iterations on this build.

Before and After Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Before and After Contest 2017