Chuck Box - Camp Kitchen




About: Alan Walker a.k.a. "The Toolman" has been creative and worked with his hands all of his life. He has been employed in a wide variety of industries including a museum, a major power tool manufacturer, a natio...

Problem: I want to go car camping but, don't have an organized way of dealing with cooking, eating and cleanup besides several cardboard boxes full of camp stuff that I don't know what it is. In other words, I'm starting from scratch. The last thing I want is to get the camp site and spend time digging through piles of stuff to cook a meal. I think you know where I'm coming from.

Solution: Create a portable storage container for camping related eating, cooking and cleanup tasks that:
1. fits in the bed of my pickup.
2. folds down for easy storage.
3. expands at the camp site to provide more work space.
4. contains all the basic eating, cooking and cleanup equipment.
5. built from common on-hand materials and keep costs to a minimum.
and lastly,
6. stores easily at home ready for the next adventure.

Too good to be true? well let's give it a shot. This is a prototype version and depending on how it performs out in the field, may go through some changes.

I've attached a working drawing with dimensions that work for me. You may need to alter them to fit your needs. Good luck!

Difficulty scale: Depending on your carpentry skills, I'm rating this a 6 out of 10.

Step 1: Design - the Box

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the best design that works for me. I found many good designs on the net and borrowed features from some and added many of my own. You may not like this design so feel free to change anything you like.

Design Criteria:
1. must fit stove and all cook/clean gear
2. must maximize storage space for large and small items.
3. must maximize working counter space.
4. must hold fresh and wash water containers.

The Box:
The 2 top panels fold out and are supported by the swing out doors. The doors double as storage space for cleaning and condiment items. I added bungees to the doors to keep things from rattling around. The large storage compartment has adjustable shelves as does the right compartment. Nesting cooking components saves space and the flip out door design allows easy access to all components.

Step 2: Design - the Stand

Given that the deign of the box would probably not allow it to collapse with equipment inside, the stand had to fold down.

1. I used door hinges with removable pins to allow the 2 halves of the stand to attach and detach to each other.
2. Sections that were removed from each side to make the stand lighter were reused for fold down shelves.
3. The back cut out had movable legs attached to rest across the horizontal supports.
4. Supports for a free standing beach umbrella were added for sun shading.
5. The inside dimensions of the stand fit the outside dimensions of the box so that  the box nests inside the stand against the stops.

Step 3: Building - the Box

Top, sides, divider, and bottom: 3/4" Swedish plywood.
Back and internal adjustable shelving: 1/8" tempered Masonite board.
Doors: 3/4" plywood frame, 1/8" Luan mahogany skin, closet door hinges.
Handles: recessed road case hinges (1/2" of side had to be routed out so the handle fit flush)
Top fold out counter: 3/4" Swedish plywood, piano hinges recessed.

-Take care to measure everything carefully!  Measure twice, cut once.
-The box has1-1/2" screws were driven through the top and bottom to hold the sides. I used bar clamps to hold everything during assembly. There was no glue used on this project.
-Prefit the doors before assembling the box. The doors should be made a little bit shorter than the opening so they will swing out easily. I used small pieces of scrap pine for the door latches and stop.
-I cut extra slots on the inside of the box to maximize adjustability of the shelves for the future should the contents change,
-The finish is natural pine with 2 coats of poly urethane.

Step 4: Building - the Stand

Sides: 3/4" Swedish plywood. Cutouts removed to reduce weight.
Hinges: Residential door hinges with removable pins. The original pins were replaced on 2 sets with large framing nails for easier assembly.
Fold Out Shelves: Cutouts were reused and mounted with dowel pins as hidden hinges. Fold out supports added.
Umbrella Stand: Scrap plywood with 1'1/2" pipe clamp. Top bracket is removable and attaches with small bolts and hidden crown nuts.

-Assemble 1 short and 1 long side together and leave them that way. Store them folded flat and secure the removable pins in the box for safe keeping.
-You can mark the pieces for easy assembly like top/front.

Step 5: Collapsed - Expanded

Here are the finished photos of the Chuck box collapsed for storage and expanded ready for use.

I hope that this project inspires you to build your own chuck box. Or if you like, email me and I can build one for you.

Remember, measure carefully and prefit everything before assembly.

I'll be glad to answer any comments you have for me. Enjoy!

Step 6: Measured Drawing

Here's the measured drawing. You can alter any and all dimensions to suite your own taste. The measurements shown on this drawing are estimates and may differ slightly from the finished projects. I did not include all of the detail for the fold out shelves and support legs so I'm sure you can come up with your own measurements.


Let me know what you think in the comments and thanks to any of you who happen send me a badge.

The Toolman

Fix & Improve It Contest

Finalist in the
Fix & Improve It Contest

2 People Made This Project!


  • Beauty Tips Contest

    Beauty Tips Contest
  • Frozen Treats Challenge

    Frozen Treats Challenge
  • Backyard Contest

    Backyard Contest

72 Discussions


5 months ago on Introduction

Great design. Is this waterproof? Can it be least out during a storm? I want to make something similar that will be mounted on my trailer so it will need to be weatherized.

1 reply

Reply 1 day ago

Sorry for the late reply. Yes, as long as you give the wood several coats of varnish. I'm not sire of the seams though. I have left it out in the rain and it seems alright. If you are attaching one to the back of your trailer, yo may want to make a custom tarp as a cover.


2 years ago

how many sheets of 3/4 inch plywood did this take?

2 replies

Reply 11 months ago

I built a version from 1 sheet, including the stand. I'll post the cut diagram if I can find it!


Question 1 year ago on Introduction

How heavy do you think this is we are thinking on building this for our boy scout troop and we arent sure how heavy it would be

1 answer

Answer 11 months ago

I built one out of a single sheet of plywood, 36" long. It's heavy, but 2 adults can carry it without a problem.


2 years ago

The more I look at different designs, the more I like the top box design you've got with with swing-out doors supporting the leaves. I'm looking to copy that with more of a static store-in-the stand design. All those moving parts in the stand look taxing to my skill level but they look completely worth it on the top. Thanks for the thorough write-up and photos!


3 years ago

Anyway you could make it more carry-friendly? I've seen some with poles on the sides for transport, but I don't know how to incorporate them into the design.


Reply 3 years ago

Awesome!!! Sometimes I think that I Tend to over build things. Your project inspires me to keep my eye out for a used box like yours. Recycling the draws makes this 1st rate.

Great job.

The Toolman


3 years ago

I'm absolutely making this first weekend I have the time. My only concern is heat from the bottom of the stove. Is there any special care one should take?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Heat from the bottom of the stove really shouldn't be an issue. I've often used my Coleman camp stop on the top of a plastice folding table and it never even got warm. The metal on the stove acts as a shield, and heat rises anyway.


3 years ago

Some clear silicone in all the right places (keeping the inside water resistent) and I'm going to do this just for a storage / work platform for my BBQ grill on the porch. Saves running back & forth into the house for stuff, plus if we do go out into the bush, (or camping as the civi's say) it's ready to go. Nice job, thanks for the share! Semper Fi


3 years ago

Only change I would make would be to put the stove on the botton and move the boxes UP to keep the shelf from bowing. But its awesome.


3 years ago

Pretty cool your still monitoring build (even if it did take a while to get back to people ;) )

I've been 'designing' a fold up case for electronic/electrical stuff along similar lines to have everything in one place with a minimum footprint yet still be transportable. I think I'm going to re-design now so I can fit a 400w inverter for solder station or power supply and have an 'on site' electronics workstation with no need to run extension cords or start up generator


3 years ago

What do you estimate the total cost is?