This blog was started as a way to keep track of our adventures as we emigrated to Canada. Then I also talked about my attempts to become a rich writer (and ended up documenting how I just became a writer.) I’ve mentioned more than once my hobbies – juggling, circus skills in general, and now cosplay and prop building.
Very, VERY occasionally, I mentioned my attempts at woodwork. Very occasionally, because that’s when they happen, and the results are usually traumatic enough to make it a long wait before the next attempt. I am NOT skilled at woodwork. But the weird thing is, my posts on these odd projects get a LOT of traction with the woodworking crowd, who drop by on the regular to like my old posts, even the one that stresses I am NOT a cabinet maker.
Just recently I have been upgrading my dalek again, and the thought occurred that I should also give more thought to how I carry the tools I need for on-the-spot repairs. In past years, I’ve used Mrs Dim’s small toolbag, but this year I would mostly be carrying the screen and power cables for the raspberry Pi. I don’t want to dump those in a bag with pliers and screwdriver and glue. I wanted a neat little hard case, but I also wanted a FANCY neat little hard case. Once I thought that, my brain handed me a set of plans for a folding wooden briefcase, and I was sunk.
Here’s what I should have done: Bought a 2ft X 2ft pine project panel from Home Depot. Bought a couple of lengths of 2X1. Cut the project panel into four equal pieces, then made those four pieces into two boxes by edging them with the 2×1.
BUT, as always, I do not have a budget for new wood. I do have piles of scrap wood. By assembling pieces of wood intended for fence panels, I could cut out the flat pieces. By cutting 1 inch strips off another large piece of wood, I could edge those flat pieces. Doing this four times gave me two boxes.
They were not pretty boxes. My measurements are always a little squiffy, as is my ability to cut a straight line, even with my rip saw. But hey, I have two boxes. So far, so adequate.
The next step was the folding bit. I had a box of hinges, but only two small ones. I used one small hinge to make each box open. The I used the next smallest hing to hinge those two boxes together. Fully opened out, it looks like this:
Looks pretty good, but there’s a detail you can’t see here – the large hinge is from a cupboard, and the hinge pin is only secured in one vertical direction. If you turn it upside down, the hinge pin falls out. This is not good. Also the boxes will not stay closed without catches. I don’t have any catches. Luckily, a household need prompted a trip to RONA, where I could bury the purchase of four new hinges and three catches in the general spending.
Here’s what the box does:
What I wanted to do, what I should have done at this point, was sand the thing for hours. I mean, I did sand the thing, with power tools and hand sanding and all sorts. But sanding is boring and messy, and despite the extraction system I put in my workshop, sawdust gets everywhere. And I don’t have the time to stand and sand this thing for as long as it needs to turn from scrap wood to decent wood. That’s a long, long time sanding, and it’ll still be badly hinged and poorly measured. Some things, you can’t polish.
The clasps I had bought, the ONLY clasps that Rona sell, were flimsy brass things. Fitting them proved a horribly fiddly task, where they were askew, and either didn’t close, or closed and left the boxes slightly open. Fine, whatever. I replaced the duff hinge, and now every hinged part had two hinges. Much more secure.
I turned my attention to the inside. I had originally wanted to use all four segments of the case to store things, but my random decision to make the boxes only 2 inches deep meant I could only use one side. I have an abundance of cheap camping mat foam, which I cut to approximate shape and tried to glue into the boxes. Glue, by the way, does not work for me. It is only ever a temporary measure, regardless of the material. At some point, it will give way.
It was obvious that the single layer of foam would not do. I needed a second layer, with the shapes cut out, in some cases right down to the base wood. This would hold the items safely, and stop them rattling about. It also meant they became smeared with the glue that had not dried on the base wood layer.
My original plan to have the thing lacquered and polished was a non-starter. The wood was too rough, the sides were not square or neatly jointed…It was a mess of different levels and gaping gaps. Instead, I deconstructed a prop I had made for Mrs Dim to take to ECCC last year, one that has connections with Doctor Who, because after all, this is the case where I carry my Dalek maintenance tools. It supplied four corner pieces, and decoration for the two flat sides of the folded case.
I needed handles, partly for carrying, but mostly to hold the thing together because the top clasp was NOT doing the job. I picked out a couple of plumbing hoses, made of metal weave, and cut them to length, then secured them in place with four screws. I’ll have to cap the ends with something soon, because there are sharp edges poking out, but they are good handles otherwise.
And that’s it. Another dumb idea out of my brain and into the world. Something someone else could have done a LOT better. Hey, maybe even something I could have done a lot better, if I had a budget and allowed myself the time? Who knows? And really, who cares?
This is far better than any box I could ever make, though I hear you on the glue. Glue hates me.