Introduction: The Cubic Foot Box - Another Storage Solution
This instructable describes a simple way to build a storage box that has a large number of uses. Like some of my other projects I focus on scrounged materials. I have used these boxes as storage boxes, tool kits, harvest boxes and have converted many into simple drawers. I call it the cubic foot box because that is its approximate capacity. It is not 1 by 1 by 1, but rather ½ by 2 by 1. Dimensions may be adjusted to fit your needs, and the wood you have on hand. The carpentry techniques used here a pretty crude, but the construction is quick and seems adequate ( all boxes have held up in use for years, none have failed, so far ).
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Bottom ¼ inch thick 12 x 24 inch or so plywood, hardboard, or similar material. Material may be thicker, but it is usually more expensive and makes the box weigh more. Since the bottom is supported all around its perimeter, it is quite strong even in quite thin material.
Ends 2 per box ( ½ inch thick 12 x 7 inch or so wood or plywood ). This wood must be thick enough so that a sheet rock screw can be dirvin into it sideways ( parallel to a face ).
Sides 2 per box ( 3/8 inch thick 24 x 7 inch or so wood or plywood ). I was lucky enough to get a lot of discarded per-finished flooring about 3/8 thick. It is basically a super hard hardboard with a special finish on one side. Regular hardboard probably will not work, as the required rabbit would probably fail. Also it does not take dings on its edges or soft side well.
Sheetrock screws about 1 ½ inch long.
Table saw and screwdriver (power is nice). Box clamps or picture frame clamps can make assembly easier.
Step 2: Construction
Normally I sort out a bunch of materials and plan their use before I begin cutting. I also typically make boxes in batches of 3 to 5 because it make set up more efficient.
I select the material for the sides and ends and rip it to the 7 inch height required. Sometimes I have to rip a true ( straight ) working edge on one side prior to ripping to width. Do the 7 inch cut on all the sides and ends at one time without adjusting the fence on the saw. If you are off, all the sides will at least be the same.
Cut the sides to the 24 long. Put a stop on the cross cut fence so you do not have to measure each piece and so they are all the same. Measure the thickness of the two together and subtract it from the width of the ends ( 7 tall x 12 inch wide ) This will give you 2 ends about 7 x 11 � inch ( depending on the thickness of your sides.
Cut the ends to you calculated width.
The bottom is held in by a grove ( rabbet ) all around the bottom of the side and ends ( this puts a limit on how thin a material you can use for them.
With the table saw cut a groove wide enough to accept the thickness of the bottom, about � inch up from the bottom of the sides and ends. The groove should penetrate about � way through the material. Deeper is better because it holds the bottom better, too deep and the grove weakens the sides and end. The fence on the saw will probably have to be moved a few times to make the grove wide enough. Cut all pieces before moving the fence. I also run each piece thru the saw twice for each cut to make sure the cut is good.
Butt the sides against one end and fasten with sheet rock screws. I usually set this up with clamps prior to driving the screws. The sides should be drilled and countersunk prior to driving the screws. Try to be accurate right in the middle of the ends ( by thickness ). I use 2 screws on each joint, at least 1 inch from the top and bottom ( to avoid splinting ).
Then fit the bottom to slide in the groove. This will give a bottom of about 12 x 24 ( a little smaller in all directions ) The exact dimensions depend on the thickness of the materials for the ends and sides and the depth of the grooves. I usually make it oversize, do a trial fit, and then shave it off bit by bit until the fit is just right. The fit should be very close, so use care. One fourth of an inch off and the bottom is trash.
Slide in the bottom and fasten the second end. You are done except for possible accessorization.
The inside of the finished box is quite close to 12 x 24 x 6 or one cubic foot.
Step 3: Accessorize and Use
I first made these boxes for tomato harvest. The depth was kept to about 6 inches because piling up the fruit can make the top tomatoes crush the bottom ones. Wood was chosen because when you pick up a flexible box, like a cardboard box, it bends and crushes the tomatoes inside. Additionally these boxes are easy to stack, especially if the boxes are turned slightly from one side to the other. Piling 4 high is still very secure.
I now use the boxes for all sorts of storage in addition to harvests. I have made more than 30 of them.
A piece of rope through the ends of the box make a nice handle for carrying the box. Fill with tools and take 2 cubic feet of tools (one in each hand ) to your project. The size of the box is pretty good for tools, any larger and it is easy to make the box too heavy to carry. See the picture.
A handle on the end of the box turns it into a drawer, put it on a shelf, or make a rack to hold a bunch of them. I have made several sets of drawers like this, see the picture.
If you get ambitious use a more interesting joint between the sides and ends. I have done some with mitered joints, and some with finger joints, these boxes are good practice because if you muff it and the joint does not look good the the box will still be useful.