Introduction: Build a Project Box - Quick, Cheap, & Easy.
We needed a protective project box in our shop with a windowed front so we could keep an eye on the status of our components.
The project boxes we found online didn't work.
-The ones that were priced right were way too small to fit our components.
-The project boxes that were big enough didn't have windows.
-The ones that were big enough AND had a window (which never lined up with our status displays) were WAYYYY too expensive.
You can see here the price range of professional boxes:
So, it became obvious that we were going to have to build our own. This turned out to be the luckiest thing in the world because we were able to put together a DIY Project box that is cheap, easy, and quick to build. The added bonus being that the entire "front" of the project box is transparent which lets us see the status of ALL of our components. Awesome!
NOTE: We will be adding LEDs to this box too!
So how did we do it?
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Step 1: Gather Materials -
1x - Tool box (17" x 12 1/2" x 3 3/4"
1x - Roll of weather stripping
1x - Sheet of backing board
1x - Cut to Adjust Sprinkler Neck (1/2" diameter)
Tools we used:
- Table Saw
- Jig Saw
- Belt Sander
- Gorilla Glue
- Utility Knife
Things we had on hand but didn't end up using:
- Expletives (this project went so smoothly we didn't end up needing to use any)
Step 2: Add Weather Stripping -
We needed to protect our project from the granite dust and water spray/mist that is prevalent in our shop. So to help with this we bought some weather stripping.
Cut to fit the weather stripping to fit in the lid's under lip.
Make sure to the plastic on the lid is clean and dry, because any dirt or moisture will rob the weather stripping's sticky.
Step 3: Assemble Stand Offs
Cleanliness in a project is important, so we decided to hide as many wires as possible behind the backer board. To do this we needed to make some stand offs which would lift the board off the bottom of the project box and give us some room to hide our wires.
We bought some of those breakable sprinkler neck pieces to use as our standoffs.
The countersunk circles at the bottom of the project box were 1/2" in diameter. This is awesome because the 1/2" diameter sprinkler necks fit perfectly.
-1st: Cut off two sections of neck to get about a 1 1/2" tall standoff.
-2nd: Score the bottom of the project box with the head of a screw driver (or sandpaper) to give the glue something to grip to.
-3rd: Apply Glue (we used Gorilla Glue because we figured this qualified as one of the "toughest jobs on planet earth".
-4th (optional): Dip the bottoms of your standoffs in water before putting them in the glue. This should make the glue bubble more.
-5th: - Put something on top of the stand offs and add weight to it. Gorilla Glue expands 3-4 times during its curing process and so its good to have something holding your stand offs in place.
Step 4: Cut, Fit, and Glue in Baseboard
This board is nice for projects. It is the same stuff the people use on the walls of their work rooms to hang tools on. The holes make attaching things convenient.
We bought a sheet 2' x 4' x 3/16".
To fit the board into the project box we:
-Cut it to depth and width on a table saw
-Cut out the "U" part with a jigsaw
-Rounded the corners with a belt sander.
After Fitting the Board, glue it atop the stand offs with Gorilla Glue and let sit to cure.
Step 5: Voila! - Project Box Complete!
And we're done!! Does it seem like we just started??? Good! That's the point! This is a quick project that takes minimal planning and effort, but gives good results.
Now the only question is, which of your projects can you protect with this high visibility project box?
-Speed of completion: Very fast project. Can be done in under an hour (not counting glue drying time).
-Visibility: The transparent front makes it easy to see whats going on with the components inside while keeping them safe from the hazards of our shop.
-Cost Effective: This box (roughly $25 in parts) is MUCH cheaper than metal project boxes (especially those with windowed fronts).
-This plastic isn't UV resistant and if left out in the sun will fatigue like non UV plastics do out in the sun and will eventually become brittle and break.
-This plastic will break when hit with a hammer.
-This project box is not weather/water PROOF, but it does keep out the dust and water mist spray we have in our shop.