Plywood (end Grain) Drone Box




Introduction: Plywood (end Grain) Drone Box

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ...

The main frame of the box is from a scrap piece of 3/4" plywood that was approximately 2'x4'. The top and bottom of the box is 1/4" luan plywood. Internal is carved from FastCap's Kaizen Foam. Hardware was salvaged off pieces in the trash. Handle was salvaged from an old fire hose my landlord was saving, I assume just in case he was ever motivated to put out a fire (good luck with that now). Finished with linseed oil and paste wax.

Step 1: Cutting Foam to Size

It all starts with the innards of the box. This is a product called Kaizen Foam which is customizable to fit whatever you want to store in it. I stacked up 4 of these layers on the inside of the box - 3 in the main part of the box and 1 in the lid.

To get all 4 squares out of the foam that I had on hand, I need to attach some smaller pieces together. This was easy with just some spray adhesive on both surfaces.

(this is where I got the foam:

Step 2: Fitting Foam to Drone (the Basics)

I measured to determine that it would sit in the 3 layers of foam with about 1/2" left of foam padding underneath the legs.

A long nose permanent marker is used to trace out the drone in the first layer of foam.

To cut the foam I heat up the knife with a propane torch. It only takes a few seconds to get it hot enough.

With the hot knife, it just slide through the foam like butter.

Once the shape is cut, I just peel back the foam and am left with a perfect recess for the drone.

Step 3: Fitting Foam to Drone (upper Levels)

To transfer the same profile into the 2nd layer, I sprinkle a little sawdust in the holes. I then put the second layer of foam on top and flip it over. This then shows exactly where I need to cut the second layer.

After refining the 2nd layer for a perfect fit I attach it to the bottom layer with spray adhesive. Ditto with the 3rd layer.

Once the base is all stacked together I cut some holes for spare parts and also use this black pipe to make a compartment for the spare propellers (heated up the same way as the knife).

Step 4: Fitting Foam to Drone (lid Foam)

The foam for the lid is cut by pushing down on the motors, which leaves a mark showing me where this layer needs to be cut.

Step 5: Cutting 3/4" Plywood Material

Onto the fun part, the box! I like to use plywood the wrong way (See my Crazy Curvy Plywood Stool here:

I cut a bunch of square strips (3/4" x 3/4"). Because... Jackman always has to be different. Lots of strips!

I made some faux box joints to join the corners. This is done by cutting 2 sizes for each side, half of them are 1-1/2" longer than the others so they protrude by 3/4" on each side. I have to be sure that the opposite faces are the same and the other 2 faces are the negative version of that so the sides all fit together.

I draw a line at 3/4" in from the edge on each side. I use this as a reference line to position the pieces in a straight line during the glue-up of the sides (to make sure the fingers are all in the right place).

Step 6: Making the Sides

Each of the 4 sides is glued with wood glue and set to dry for the night.

I sand the inside faces smooth and flat prior to gluing the sides together because it will be next to impossible to access these faces once everything is attached.

Step 7: Assembling the Sides

This glue-up is the most stressful part. You have to be quick to apply the glue because there are so many faces coming into contact with one another and it dries relatively quickly.

The clamps pull everything in tight. I alternate them on all the sides until everything is pulled together.

Always leave the fingers on the box joints a little long. I sand them down here until everything is flush.

Step 8: Assembling the Top and Bottom

Then the frame is cut to final width and 1/4" luan plywood is glued and clamped onto each face.

Once that's dry, a flush trim bit is used in the router to even up the edges.

The lid is then separated from the bottom of the box by cutting the 4 sides on the table saw.

Step 9: Inserting Foam & Adding Hardware

Then the foam can finally be installed into the box! I use my left hand to allow the air to come out of the box and my right hand to push it down inside.

I installed a pair of small hinges by mortising out each side and attaching them. The recess I made for these hinges is slightly deeper than the depth of the hinges themselves. This will make the box "hinge bound" (which you usually don't want), but I did that here so it would keep a bit of tension on the latch to keep it from popping open.

The aforementioned latch is then installed on the opposite side.

Step 10: Finishing

To finish the box I first put a couple coats of linseed oil on to soak into the surface then apply a coat of paste wax and buff it out to a nice finish.

I anticipate I might put something tougher on there one of these days.

Step 11: Handle

What's this mess? Well, the box still needs a handle, so I raided my landlords fire hose pile...because, why not?

I cut a strip of the fire hose off and drilled a hole on each end.

Grommets were installed in both holes.

I then drill a pair of holes into the side and attach it with a couple of carriage bolts.

Step 12: Glamour Shots

Then it's loaded up with all of the shenanigans!

I love using luan on projects like this. It's typically considered a builder grade product and is really cheap, but look at the spalting in this piece!

All that effort for the box joints and they're almost hidden. I guess that means I did them right?

All loaded up and ready for the next expedition.

In case you missed it up top, I'll drop the link down here too for the full build video, enjoy!(includes some killer drone shots at the end!)

Drones Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Drones Contest 2016



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    38 Discussions

    Very nice turned out very nice might have to try this for a few boxes iv been needing to build.

    Gorgeous piece, well done!

    Wow. Usually my plywood boxes look like **** but this is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing. The pile of firehouse behind the landlords was hilarious. What the..? :)

    2 replies

    Haha he's got an interesting collection, he's a good dude though, he shares :)

    I'm a wood lover and though you used plywood in a way I have not yet tried I like solid wood beer as it does not split apart if the glue fails as it is known to do with plywood I made a smaller box using 1/4 x 3" slates with handsawed finger joints then drilled a nail sized hole in each corner to hold it together as I added the bottom and top also with reseed hinges and that small box weighs around 3 lbs how much does your box weigh ?

    1 reply

    With good quality plywood delamination is not much of a concern. With the finger joints like this the box is super tough. It weighs about 18lbs all loaded up with the drone and everything.

    l love using plywood and like to show the end grain also. this is a beautiful box and will protect your phantom from damage.

    3 replies

    yeah I love not many people do. I have recently brought a phantom 3 a need a case for it. can I ask what the weight of the box is ?

    Nice job....looks great. Nice shots of the North Shore coast too :-)

    3 replies

    Thanks! I'm so spoiled with all the scenery around here

    I'm in the area too....makes me want to get my drone out and fly in a few more interesting places. I subscribed to your channel, will be checking out your cool projects. Good sound tracks too! I found myself already searching for some of the music.

    Thanks for the sub! The music takes a long time to pick out, but it's worth it. Marblehead, Manchester, and Gloucester all have great drone spots :)

    Love this! The exposed plywood and fire hose? Genius! VOTED

    1 reply

    I thought this this was an noise drone box. lol. Still a nice box!