- The build - 3 days
- Editing photos/writing blog post - 6-7 hours
- 12mm MDF (not recommended, but you'll see why I used it in the next section)
- 32 x 32mm PSE softwood
- Various short screws
- 4x swivelling castor wheels
- 2x hinges
- Mechanical pencil
- Steel rule
- Tape measure
- Battery drill and bits
- Skilsaw (circular saw)
- Router and various bits
- Chisels (various sizes)
- Wooden mallet
- Woodworking plane
- Spirit level and clamps (to act as guides)
- Countersink bit
Contents: (click titles to jump)
I can't believe it's been this long, but the last thing I worked on for my layout Sandy Shores back in Dec 2019 and Jan 2020 (click a month to go to the relevant pages) was the storage box to keep the layout safe. Unfortunately, it was built out of MDF as it's all that I could get hold of at the time. The end result was an incredibly heavy box that was difficult to move even with the large castors I put on it. With my studio now built (leaving space to display the layout in my room), and a box too heavy to lift into my car to take the layout to exhibitions; I decided that it was pointless keeping it...
Above: ...that meant the box was unceremoniously dismantled back in late March with the help of a rubber mallet - the wood glue simply did not bond the MDF as well as expected, so it didn't take much persuasion. Probably a good thing I took it apart before it fell apart with the layout still in it. Ironically, getting the layout in and out caused more damage to Sandy Shores than before the box existed - so much for a safe storage solution!
Above: Fast forward to this Monday (26th July 2021), and I really wanted to make use of the pile of MDF; not just because I didn't want to waste it, but also because I was fed up of moving it out of the way around the studio constantly! My first idea was to create doors for the untidy storage shelves, however none of the bits were large enough. I then realised that I could make some multi-use furniture (a common theme in the studio!); specifically, a chest to sit underneath the window. This could have three uses:
- Storing awkward and unsightly plastic storage boxes
- Acting as a window seat (once I get a cushion made up for it)
- Acting as a movable bench whilst filming videos (OK, so that's similar to point 2, but still)
Above: The first step (1) was to alter the parts of the old box and cut out the components required. This was done with a skilsaw (a long metal spirit level was clamped on top to provide a guide for the circular saw to ensure the cuts were perfect. The front and back of the chest (what used to be the two sides of the box) are shown in this photo - the modified version is shown behind the original.
Next up (2), what was the bottom of the box was to become... the bottom of the chest! The original lower rebate in the front/back panels (1) could still be used, but the sheet will obviously need trimming to the new width/length. Here, a plane is used to bevel the new long edge so that it fits snugly into the original rebate.
In order to provide thickness to eventually attach the two hinges on the back panel for the lift-up lid, a new PSE softwood length was needed. Unfortunately none of the spare bits from my old dismantled layout were quite long enough, so I had to fasten two together. Step (3) shows that I have lapped the joint to provide more strength. Step (4) shows the same PSE softwood being screwed into place. Note the countersunk holes.
Above: But first, here's a look of the two side panels and the front and back so far. Already looking pretty neat!
Above: I always wanted to have some sort of gap underneath the chest, not least so that it could be lifted easily. There wasn't room for gaps under the front/back due to an existing piece of PSE softwood, however, there was room on the sides. The design itself was dictacted by cutting off an area with some unwanted holes on what used to be the top of the old box - these were where the hinges were affixed. Remember the 45mm measurement from earlier? Well here it is again! 45mm from the left/right edge and up 45mm. Also, thus lines at a 45 degree angle (purely coincidental, of course!) Anyway, these gaps were cut using a jigsaw - a clamped spirit level is used as a guide.
Above: To attach the lid we obviously need hinges, but there was a slight problem - 2/3rds of the hinges fixing points were too close to the pin, meaning that if fixed in place normally, the screws would go directly in the join between MDF and softwood batten. Needless to say, that's not ideal as there's a real risk of the MDF bowing or delaminating. To prevent this, I needed to move the entire hinge until the pin back was flush with the rear of the chest. This will cause more problems down the line, but we'll get to that later.
Usually with a hinge like this you would rebate both the chest and the lid, but remember; the lid is only 12mm MDF - if we rebate it, there will be little depth to screw into (12mm is bad enough as-is, especially with MDF which doesn't hold fixings well!). Thus the whole hinge will be rebated into the chest.
Above: Before fitting the lid, I thought it would be a good idea to add some castor wheels to the bottom of the chest - after all, being MDF it is heavy! The only things to look out for here is to ensure sufficient clearance to allow the wheels to swivel, and to also ensure you don't use screws so long that they poke through the base!
Above: Now the lid can be screwed on. I initially made the mistake of screwing the hinge to the chest first, then onto the lid - however, this makes it impossible to screw the lid on in the right place! What you want to do is to screw the hinge onto the lid first, lining the rear of the pin (arrowed) with the rear of the lid. If you've done the rebate deep enough, it should lie flat. Once both hinges are screwed to the lid, the assembly can be screwed onto the chest.
Above: Finally, I wanted to add a latch that I've had lying around for years but never had a use for! First though, a rebate will be needed on the chest front top edge (see annotation). I forgot to take photos, but the chisel process is the same as we did with the hinge rebates.
Above: With the rebate created, the position of the latch onto the lid can be marked (the arrow points to the same place). Then it's just a case of drilling pilot holes and securing the latch with brass screws. The loop can then be installed onto the front of the chest, making sure to align it correctly (and ensure the latch can be lifted!).