2017 May 28    Woodworking


Maybe you want a tool crate to cart heavy stuff.  Vises, pipe wrenches, hammers, and random pieces of heavy steel.  And those chunks of heavy round bar with big grease-penciled numbers on them like "1045" and "4140".

Doesn't matter how burly you are;  carrying all that iron gets tiring.  I designed this crate to be bolted on to an upgraded hand truck.

You could easily build this as a stand-alone crate, if you prefer.  Just change the dimensions to whatever you need.

Caution:  Woodworking and similar tasks can be dangerous;  Disclaimer.  But you knew that.

Now let's get building!

A Quick Note

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In This Article

1.  The Plywood

2.  Tools

3.  Assembly

4.  Wood Putty

5.  Corner Braces

6.  Handle Cut-Outs

7.  Painting The Crate


1.  The Plywood

Get a sheet of 1/2" sanded plywood.  This is the better grade.  You could use CDX, but the overall look will be a lot rougher.  One thing I wouldn't use is OSB;  if and when the paint starts to peel, OSB deteriorates quickly if the rain gets on it.

Overall size of this crate is about 19 3/8" x 11", by about 14" tall.  Here's the plywood cut list:

front and back panels...........19 3/8" x 14"

side panels.....................10" x 14"

bottom panel....................19 3/8" x 11"

This crate has the bottom panel going to the full outside measurements.  In other words, the crate sides sit on the bottom panel.  That's attached with trim nails through the underside.  So, I don't know how much weight it could carry before that panel falls out.  (But it is nailed and wood-glued, so...)

This crate was designed to sit on the base plate of a hand truck, not be carried around most of the time.  But again, the nails plus wood glue should make it strong enough to carry a few pounds.


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2:  Tools

Here are the tools & the rest of the materials that I used for this project. 

- 7 to 10 ounce hammer
- Circular saw
- Sawhorses
- Clamps to hold the plywood while you cut it
- Tape measure
- Carpenter pencil
- Trim nails, 4d (1 1/2")
- Wood Glue

It helps if you're good at hammering nails.  (Some people might prefer to use a pneumatic nailer for this.)


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3:  Assembly

The way I designed this, the sides sit on the base.  The nails are driven upward from the bottom.  Or, downward if you have the crate flipped upside-down:

I know, that's not a carpenter's hammer.  And by the way, it's a good idea to mark which panel is which.  Nailing these together with wood glue is difficult to undo;  don't pick the wrong one!

The design that I used may not seem like the strongest way to build this;  The alternative might put too much strain on individual ply layers.  If you think that would be stronger, you could cut the plywood so the bottom fits inside the other boards, then drive the nails in horizontally.

Remember, though, this is designed to sit on the hand truck.  So the base gets a lot of additional support from that. 

Either way, you have to start with the edge of one board sitting on another, sort of balancing it there while you drive the nails.  You have to keep the boards perpendicular while keeping them lined up correctly.  It greatly helps if there are pilot holes.  I think the drill bit would be 1/16" for this.  Here's another view of the crate, not quite finished:


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4.  Wood Putty

This is sanded ply, so we're going to stick with the theme of making it look somewhat presentable.  Therefore, you might want to fill the nail holes with wood putty.  If your wood putty turned into a solid block, here's an easy way to make your own.  Get the fine sawdust out of your random orbit sander's dust collector.  Mix it with some wood glue until you have a thick paste. 

Now apply that with a putty knife or a flat screwdriver.

When it's dry, sand it smooth. 


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5.  The Corner Braces

This step might be optional, but it makes the crate stronger.  You could make these pieces out of plywood, but I used regular pine / fir lumber. 

The tricky part is clamping these pieces while the glue dries.  The top ends are easy; just use a C-clamp.  But you also have to clamp the ends that are down in the crate.  For this, I used whatever odds and ends I could find.  Wedge them in, like so:

There might be a way to clamp two or more of these at a time, but I didn't have that.  So I did one corner-brace at a time, let the glue dry overnight, and so on.


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6.  The Handle Cut-Outs

Use a 1 3/8" spade bit to make starter holes.  Not every spade bit set has the 1 3/8;  try this link for a set that should. 

Connect the starter holes with a jig saw

The handle cut-outs should be close enough to the edge of the ply that you can carry the crate.  But they should be far enough away that they have some strength.


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7.  Painting

When it's all together and you've sanded any rough edges, it's time to paint it.

First, use a tack cloth to remove as much sanding dust as possible.  The paint will adhere much better.  Then, set down your drop cloth and start painting.

Figure on two coats of paint, because the first coat will sink into the wood grain quite a bit.  For best results, let the first coat dry for a few days before you apply the second coat.


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8.  Finished Product

After the paint dried, I bolted it to the hand truck with 1/4"-20 machine screws.  Here's the finished product:


This was the second phase of the "Milwaukee Hand Truck Upgrade" project.  They make nice hand trucks in the USA.  And I upgraded one so it had a crate on it.

As I said, you could just make this crate as a stand-alone.  Paint it whatever color you want, stencil it, put stuff in it.

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