Intro: Fix Plastic Tool Cases With or Without Tools
I cleaned up my apartment because the landlord is planning to sell and it needed to look good. It has also been slow at work lately so I had some spare time to get to things that would not have rated the time otherwise.
As part of fixing the sprinkler system outside I needed to cut a tree root off a line it crushed and when I got out the reciprocating saw, the case fell apart, dumping the contents. The saw is from Harbor Freight and works okay, but you can guess the quality of the blow molded case from where I bought it.
I also have a 45-year-old set of taps and dies from Sears. There is no other nice way to store the 59 pieces except in that molded polypropylene case, but both the back hinges and the front latches were broken. That tool set cost me $70 back when the minimum wage was $1.65/hr. So I decided that it had to be fixed, too.
Step 1: First the Tooless Fix
I saw a hinge repair online that used rubber sheets and rubber cement, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on repairing a case that may decomposed one day anyway. I go to a super Walmart each day to buy food and walked over to the hardware section and looked around. There were peel and stick wall hanging strips that looked like they would make nice toolless hinges, but the adhesive is deliberately weak, so you can remove the hanger later without messing up your wall. A couple of aisles over, there was real Velcro in 2 flavors. The more expensive version has UV and weather resistance and an adhesive that is not supposed to come off without solvents. It is supposed to be used outdoors on tools. A little over $6 for 2 pairs of 4x2 inch strips.
I simply cut pieces of one strip into 3 and used those to make the back hinge. I cut the other half of the pair into three pieces and used 2 of those to reinforce the front latches. Then I cut the 3rd piece in half and used those 2 strips to make hinges inside the box to help reinforce the 3 outside. That was it. A couple of minutes and when I was done I still had one complete pair of 4x2 Velcro for something else.
Step 3: Tool Fix for the Old Tap and Die Set
At Walmart I also bought a $2 set of common hinges with screws. I used a self-tapping screw to start holes and attached the hinges to the back of the Sear's tool case with the screws that came with the hinges. The original Sears' hinges had metal pins that bent and that was what caused them to break. So I used screws to make sure the new hinges were correctly lined up and opened and closed freely. Then I drilled and pop-riveted one hinge hole at a time. When done it's all straight and opens freely all the way.
Step 4: The Front Latches Went Missing Long Ago
I thought about this. I don't use these taps and dies all that often, but the lid has to stay down tight, otherwise the 59 pieces fall out and it takes a bit of time to put them all back. I settled on drilling a small hole down through the remaining parts of the front latches and securing the case with twist ties. The case won't fall open and if the ties fail after a few uses, so what? I have used ties laying around everywhere. The case did originally have a thin sheet of foam to keep the pieces from rattling, but that is long gone. I could use a rag but for now the case and it's contents are secure.