Hard Shell Case for Cheap

Introduction: Hard Shell Case for Cheap

About: Do you really care?

Simple and cheap way to protect my camera.

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Step 1: Old Blow Molded Case I Had Sitting Around.

I finally made the complete step from film to digital. For reasons unknown to me I decided it would be a good idea to store everything in a hard shell. Not feeling like forking over a few hundred $$ for a custom case and wanting a project to do, I remembered I had this old case that a drill came in. It was sitting in a junk room collecting dust, and looked to be a prefit start for this project.

Step 2: The Insides... Not Very Camera Friendly Yet

These kinds of cases that power tools come in have "custom trays" that do a great job of holding the (X) tool in place. But I was needing an empty shell. Using a tool a lot like a Dremel with a bit a lot like the Dremel #561 Multipurpose Cutter I was able to gut the case out....

Step 3: Empty Shell

Now I have an empty shell to work with. 2 things to point out... this makes a bit of a mess, and try to leave the lips that overlap when the case is closed. Cutting out around the handle was a bit tricky... but I had no clue what I was doing when I first started doing this and 10 minutes later was happy with my results.

Oh yeah, safety glasses (or a complete face shield in my case) since tiny bits of plastic go flying everywhere when you least expect it.

Step 4: The Protection...

I purchased some foam rubber from a local store. I don't know what kind this stuff is, I just told the clerk what I was doing and he felt (unknown type) would be best. One problem, they only sold (X) thicknesses of this stuff, which was to thick for my needs.... more on that later.

I got 2 squares of the stuff that were a bit larger than the case. With a sharpie marker I outlined the case onto the foam and cut with a bread knife, results shown.

Step 5: Getting the Correct Thickness

I needed 3 sheets of the foam rubber. A top and bottom that would "clamp" all of the contents of the case in place and a 3rd middle layer that would sort the items and keep them seperated. One sheet was cut into 2 usable pieces for the top/bottom parts.

I found a book that was of the correct thickness needed and used it as a guide. I held the knife to the book as shown and moved the foam rubber, going around the edges first making a slit all the way around.

Step 6: Kung Foo Grip

To get deeper into the foam rubber I had to change the position of the knife. I moved the foam rubber to the knife since it slide on my counter top easier/smoother than the book/knife did.

Step 7: Cutting Deeper

I worked my way around the 4 edges of the foam rubber until the knife had cut as deep as it could at that angle. This left about a 4 or 5 inch section in the middle the knife couldn't ready and I had to "free hand" cut them, using the part I had already sliced as a guide.

Step 8: Getting Closer to the End

Here is an end result, a farily flat cut. I did 2 pieces at this thickness for the top and bottom, used a funky quad CD jewel case for the middle section to get the correct thickness of it.

Step 9: Stacking It Up

The case itself has 3 layers of sorts. The top and bottom pieces of the foam fit into 2 of these layers and the middle into the 3rd, you can kind of see how this all works out in the photo.

Step 10: Last Step and What I'd Do Different Next Time...

I glued the top and bottom layers of foam rubber into the case. The middle section I had to taper the outer edges of it some so the case could close without having to stand on top of it. It would get trapped between the 2 halfes of the case and "squish out" some.

At this stage I layed out my gear onto the middle section of the foam rubber and played around with the layout. Once I had a lay out I was happy with, I traced an outline of everthing with a sharpie marker then cut those sections out with the bread knife.

An electric turkey carving knife might be an easier/faster way of cutting the foam rubber, I couldn't locate one to try out. I've been using this setup for a while and think I'll be removing the middle layer and use egg create foam rubber that is used for sound proofing.

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    6 Discussions


    2 years ago



    10 years ago on Introduction

    hmm I definetly will make one of these with my old power drill case But i will make a bit for my small Dslr camera Then For A Mini tripod and A battery case


    13 years ago

    Wal-mart sells a case in the sporting goods department (supposed to be a pistol case) for $7.96. It has 3 separate layers of foam and the middel is scored in a grid so you can just cut out the shape of your camera and it looks really professional. I've got one and it holds 2 canon dslr bodies (with battery pack/grips) pro flash and 2 lenses.


    13 years ago

    hey pencilneck, this is an awsome instructable! As a growing DSLR lover (nikon D200) it is becoming quite important to protect your gear and this is the thing I have been looking for! I love it and plan on making it... when i find a case that is big enough to store my camera (that is also not being used)


    14 years ago

    The electric carving knife is definitely the trick for cutting foam. I've been using it to tailor upholstry foam for years. Watch out for your fingers on the OTHER side of the foam!