Box Treatments, and How to Solve the Case of the Missing Case




It is not hard to make a good box or case for tools or instruments. And you can often improve the usefulness of an existing box by judicious addition of foam or flaps. By foam, I mean closed-cell polyethelene packing, not to be confused with styrofoam. Styrofoam is weak and crumbly; closed-cell LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is tough and durable. I have a socket set where I replaced the vacuformed insert with LDPE nearly 20 years ago. After years and years of use, with hundreds of removals and re-insertions, the foam is still resilient, still grips the tools, and is ready for decades more.

Step 1: Getting Started

What you need: box or case, foam, felt tip marker, art knife, hot-melt glue.
Sometimes needed: cardboard, paint.

Plug the glue gun in so it can heat up while you think.

Closed cell foam is saved from appliance or equipment boxes. LDPE is what you want. It's easy to glue in place, and very easy to cut. If you don't have a single piece of foam big enough to fill a particular area, you can glue smaller pieces up to fit.

Step 2: The Case of the Upgraded Dremel

This is a Dremel case. I added bit-holder foam, sockets for a couple more accessories in the lid, and a cardboard cord-retainer flap.

Step 3: Hold-downs

When you have layout options, lay the tools or other objects in trial arrangements till you find one you like. For heavy tools, allow for proper cradling; think about how the weight will be supported, especially when the case is closed and sitting upright.

Sometimes after an object is well cradled from sides and below, it needs to be braced from above by a foam block glued to the box lid. In this case, make the best measurement possible for the required thickness of foam, cut it just a bit thicker, set the foam on the object, apply glue to the top of the foam, then close the lid on it. After a minute, open the lid; the foam should be firmly glued, and in the right place. Now when you close the lid, the foam clamps the object in place.

Step 4: The Case of the Long-wearing Sockets

Socket set treatment.

Step 5: Have Synth, Will Travel

Cardboard came from refrigerator box, wheels and handle from a wheelie backpack. Added camo paint job.

Step 6: Color Coded Prompts

This is the box for a teleprompter kit. Holds mini-tripod, monitor (with remote), USB keypad, clamp, assorted cables, power supply. Case is painted black and looks reasonably respectable when closed. Has a black plastic handle and cardboard closure tabs.

The idea here is to color code. If at the end of the video shoot you see red, then something has not been replaced in the box. Helps keep track of all the bits.

In real life, an additional black tray sits atop all the stuff you see in these pictures.

Not exactly a step-by-step Instructable, I know, but it should give some ideas.




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    11 Discussions

    I made a mini-saw for cutting LDPE foam. Every so often as I relieve a hole for some object, I slice the sides of the hole with an art knife, then need to undercut the bottom and pull out the core. So I made a mini-saw of sheet steel. Sort of like a small, flat spoon with sharp, toothed edges. Works like a champ, but of course LDPE foam is really easy to cut. Will include picture if I can get around to it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I've been using this exact method to carry my beloved bass amplifier from gig to gig. I converted a raggedy old wheeled suitcase into a heavily padded device, complete with 2-tone felt lining to match the Carvin Redline style. And, unlike most 2-space racks, I can store the footswitch, effects pedals, cables, and even sheet music without having to lift them.

    An added benefit is the fact that I can walk around with it with a more peaceful state of mind since no one can know I am carrying a valuable piece of equipment in an ordinary suitcase!

    2 replies

    Good camouflage value. It's great when equipment, instruments, tools, vehicles, etc. stay around so that in addition to paying for them, you can actually use them too. Peace of mind in a not-yet-ideal world.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic, I did this recently to convert an old makita drill box so that I had a home for my boxless angle grinders. Just waiting for some more LDPE to come my way so I can give my jigsaw the same treatment.

    By the way, has anybody noticed that there has been a shift in saw naming? What used to be sabre saws are now jigsaws. Former jigsaws are now called scroll saws. What do they now call the former scroll saws? Power fret saws? Funny eh? But they still call jigsaw puzzles jigsaw puzzles, not scroll saw puzzles. Of course most jigsaw puzzles have not been made with jig... I mean SCROLL saws for a long time. Jigsaw puzzles are die cut. We could call them die cut puzzles. But I don't want to be the only one.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    LDPE is a really great material for this! And you can recover/recycle it from the shipping and packing material used for printers, monitors, TVs, stereo systems, etc. It cuts really well with a chef's knife or box cutter, and even after cutting and shaping stays firm and resilient. Great Instructable!

    1 reply