As Lego fans, one of my 5 year old's biggest problems is transporting them! Although the Millenium Falcon zipper Lego case is great, it's fairly small and doesn't allow for a build platform. So, the Lego Briefcase was born.
The design is adapted from nikoala3's awesome "Secret Compartment Chess Set", using Adobe Illustrator to modify it back to a simple case and drawer then cut at SLO MakerSpace on our home-built 40 Watt BuildYourOwnCNC.com laser cutter.
This was a great introduction to using the laser cutter that has already given hours of fun for our boys!
The original Adobe Illustrator files and exported DXF files are below:
Step 1: Find a Laser!
Where do you get a laser?
1. Check out Make Magazine's directory for a list of local Maker Spaces that might have lasers for members!
2. If you're near San Luis Obispo, CA, come down to SLO MakerSpace for our "Introduction to the Laser Cutter" course and start playing!
3. There are also online sites such as Ponoko that can cut things for you.
Step 2: Download Files and Lase!
1. Download the DXF files in the intro, which should be ready to do for most laser cutters.
2. Open the DXF in your G-Code generator program, we're using Cut 2D, which is relatively inexpensive and user-friendly.
3. Optimize the settings of your laser and generate G-Code. This will depend on your individual laser - on our 40 watt, BuildYourOwnCNC.com Blacktooth laser, we had to eyeball focus halfway through the material, install an upgraded air pump to prevent charred wood, and turn the power to maximum, and slow the movement to around 12% in order to get a good cut through 1/4" plywood. Check your user manual or play around with your settings on scrap wood until it works!
4. Check out the 10-Tips-and-Tricks-for-Laser-Engraving-and-Cutting instructable - I like the masking tape trick to decrease burn marks.
Step 3: Glue and Clamp
1. Glue the pieces together of the drawer and the frame.
2. Clamp overnight.
3. Drill holes for hardware
4. Final sand and seal with your finish of choice: polyurethane, linseed oil, etc.
Step 4: Hardware
1. Attach handle: I got the handle from our local ACE hardware store for around $3, but there are recycled options as well as high-end leather if you prefer. Needing to keep a low profile to allow sliding room for the drawer, I decided to use 3/4 inch rivets attached from the inside. This has been a solid attachment and does not affect the drawer significantly.
2. Closure mechanism: I tried a latch, but Lego Cop said it wouldn't work well. I then used 1/2" elastic and some old upholstery tacks to make a drawer pull and a closure band that keeps the drawer from sliding out.
1. Epoxy a 10"x10" Lego base plate to the top of the briefcase and the bottom of the drawer.
2. Let dry and start building!!