Wood Made Precision Instrument Box




Introduction: Wood Made Precision Instrument Box

There is a lot of good wood in the recycling bins in the wood shop. Mostly small pieces though...

It just happens that I have some small items that need a new home such as a machinist indicator and some small drill bits. So I came up with this simple wood box with clear Lexan sliding top. The construction is rather simple but it is easier to look at the picture than read words. My instructable will have lots of pictures.

I made it at TechShop Chandler, techshop.ws.

Step 1: Get Materials

Materials were easy to get from the scrap bin. Pieces of Lexan are always by the laser cutter. Get the biggest you can find, you can always cut is smaller. For glue I used Titebond. I also used two dry wall screws and one pan head sheet metal screw for the lid stop.

Because materials seem to be of random size, when fished out of the bins, I will not constrain the reader with specific dimensions. The box i made is roughly 4x5x2 and the walls are about 0.5 inches thick. Make whatever size box your scrap wood lends itself to.

I got some clear pine strips (no knots) and some small squares of thin plywood for the bottom.

For me the bottom square pretty much dictated the box size.

Step 2: Cut the Wood to Size

Rip the wood meant for the walls, into slightly oversize strips. Make sure you have enough for all 4 sides. Do not cut them to length yet. Get a scrap of something (MDF, etc) and decide where the bottom of the box should be in relationship to the bottom edges. Run the scrap through the table saw to make a kerf (slit) cut. Move the fence and make a second cut just bigger that now it can take a sliding fit from the plywood bottom. With the template you now made set the fence again and repeat the cuts on all the wood meant for the box sides. Sneak onto the right dimension so you have a nice fit. Try them on for size.

Use the same method to get the slit for the sliding lid. If you found some thin lexan you are in luck the saw blade makes the kerf that is just right for the lid.

Cut two of the longer ones to the same length as that of the plywood bottom piece. Without measuring try to use the actual box as a template for sizing the smaller two box ends. Templates give a better fit than measuring.

Step 3: Assemble the Box

Dry fit all the parts. Yo might have to do some additional trimming but probably not much. Use the leftover cutt offs to get the sizing right. The short pieces help visualize how parts fit.

If all is OK trim one small end down to the edge of the sliding top groove so the Lexan lid can be inserted. Dry fit again. Take the box apart and carefully put some glue on the ends of the long pieces. Try not to glue the bottom plywood. It will allow for wood expansion. Fit the edges over the bottom and add the end pieces. Clamp everything square and let it dry.

Step 4: Trim Box to Size

If the box is dry, take the clamps off and take it to the belt sander. Sand the ends, bottoms and top so it is all neat and flush. If the bottom slits were cut too high (mine were) cut them smaller in two passes on the table saw and sand the bottom to the new dimension. Sanding cleans the box all over and give it a cleaner appearance ready for some stain or clear coat. Ease the sharp edges and corners with some sandpaper by hand.

Step 5: Cut the Lexan Lid and Extra Parts

Now that the box is all put together you can get the final size for the Lexan lid. Cut it, on the table saw, just like plywood or try the shear in the textile room, it cuts like cardboard and both methods work well. Make it so it slides easily in the groove.

I cut an additional piece of wood that will fit in the bottom of the box and pivot on two screws. Round one edge like the picture.There are drill boxes fitted like that. I plan on making a larger box that can house my entire collection of precision instruments, so when that time comes, I will re purpose this box as a small precision drill bit holder.

I also made a small oval catch that when rotated will close the box. Enclosed is a PDF file, so You can make the small catch and cut it from the laser remains by hand of using the Laser. Screw that catch on with the Sheet metal screw.

Get hold of some thin foam and cut a square that fits inside the box.

Step 6: Finish the Box

I put some stain on my box, let it dry, and then spayed it with a coat of polyurethane from a rattle can. I put the foam inside, and assemble all the add on parts. My indicator how can rest protected inside.

Hope you can follow this instructable, and make some simple boxes for your stuff, they can be put to many uses, and best of all are free!!!

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, simple way to use up a bunch of scraps to accomplish something valuable.

    One minor comment: in Step 1, you refer to "Lexan" being available around the TechShop. Lexan is polycarbonate and the TechShop frowns upon cutting it (or trying to, at least) in their lasers. Acrylic ("Plexiglass") is the commonly used material at TechShop.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    There are different types of clear plastics laying around the bins here. Some are Lexan. Lexan does not yellow while cut by laser. It actually cuts nice on the table saw, or if thin, in the guillotine found in the textile shop. Lexan is flexible, unlike Poly-carbonate, which is brittle and does not cut nice in the laser or by mechanical means


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Apologies if this is a bit too pedantic, but we've got a bit of apples and oranges going here.

    Lexan is GE Plastics trade name for polycarbonate resin. Lexan sheet is crack and impact resistant. However, it doesn't cut well on a laser. The cut edge is usually a yellowed mess. It does cut okay with typical cutting tools like a carbide blade on a table saw.

    Acrylic is a nickname for poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA. Plexiglas is Arkema's trade name for it but there are many suppliers. Acrylic cuts easily on the laser and can be cut with typical cutting tools as well as long as you let the tool do the work and don't use such high speeds that the swarf melts and welds itself back to the work.