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Range box from plywood

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Post by corsara on Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:54 am

First topic message reminder :

Found plans of a simple range pistol box on another site (link), however I don't have tools to cut out proper grooves for sturdy joints.  Wondering if I can get away with simply butt joining the plywood by using glue, and maybe some reinforcing brackets on the inside?

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Post by LenV on Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:30 pm

You are going to have problems with the lid. There are two good reasons to have the hinge about 2/3 of the way across the top. The first reason is a little easier access to the back of the box. The second reason is more important. It gives the lid something to hold it up when you open it. This allows you to mount a scope, magazine holder, scare patches etc.
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Post by corsara on Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:46 pm

LenV wrote:You are going to have problems with the lid. There are two good reasons to have the hinge about 2/3 of the way across the top. The first reason is a little easier access to the back of the box. The second reason is more important. It gives the lid something to hold it up when you open it. This allows you to mount a scope, magazine holder, scare patches etc.

Understood!  And this advice is great, because today I purchased a table saw, and I intend to start the building the box from the beginning, this time making better cuts.  I'll also redesign and move the hinge more towards the 2/3rds width of the top.

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Post by Wobbley on Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:32 pm

If you have a table saw, you can make joinery cuts.  A dado stack would be helpful.
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Post by corsara on Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:47 pm

Wobbley wrote:If you have a table saw, you can make joinery cuts.  A dado stack would be helpful.

Unfortunately the table saw I bought is very basic, and the manual explicitly says that dado blades cannot be used with it.. :/

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Post by GME on Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:50 pm

It sounds like you will be able to make some better cuts, but it looks like you will still be faced with using butt joints.  Rather than putting screws on the outside of the box, you may want to consider an alternative that will give you a plenty strong box and look better.

Use 1/2" ply on the top, bottom and sides.  Use pocket holes from the inside to fasten the 4 sides.  If you use 1/2" on the back, you can also use pocket holes to fasten it.

Assuming you don't know much about pocket hole joinery, here's some information.  It has become very popular.  Many smaller custom cabinet makers even use it for kitchen cabinets.  I've used it for shop cabinets holding hundreds of pounds.  I've never had a cabinet break, or give me any kind of trouble.  Of course, you will still want to use both screws and glue.  For 1/2" stock, you will need #7 or #8 square drive screws 1" long.  You won't need to use nearly as many screws as you used for you first effort.  3 or 4 per corner should be enough.  No more than 5.

Don't use an impact driver to drive the pocket screws.  The odds of overdriving or stripping them is high.  Use a drill/driver, and when the screw tightens, stop.  You might want to practice on some scrap to get the feel of it.  Also, you can fill the pocket holes with putty or dowels.  You can buy the precut dowels or use regular dowel material and a flush cutting saw for much less.  If you plan to paint the inside of the box, or don't mind the looks, a setting putty will also work.
Also, you can fill the pocket holes with putty or dowels.  You can buy the precut dowels or use regular dowel material and a flush cutting saw for much less.  If you plan to paint the inside of the box, or don't mind the looks, a setting putty will also work.

There are also many video of pocket joinery on YouTube.  Review some them and see if looks promising for your methods of work.


Kreg makes the most common and probably the best pocket hole jigs.  I've attached a few examples:

Range box from plywood - Page 2 R3_01

Range box from plywood - Page 2 K4-01

Range box from plywood - Page 2 KPHJ320-01


These are some of the cheaper ones.  There are a number of models and price points.  Here's a link:  https://www.kregtool.com/shop/pocket-hole-joinery/pocket-hole-jigs/  

Here in the U.S. Home Depot sells at least one model; maybe a couple  + some of the accessories.  Maybe the same is true in Canada.

One other thing.  You might want to consider using Titebond III for your box.  It's waterproof.  If you are only going to use it in an indoor range, what you have is fine.  If your going to use the box outside, waterproof glue wouldn't hurt.

Finally, another option would be a Festool Domino, which makes mortises for loose tenon joinery.  It's handy, if you intend to do a lot of joinery and had the budget for it.  The DF-500 costs nearly $1,000 U.S., plus the extras, including domino (loose tenons).  Unless you see some serious woodworking in your future, I wouldn't recommend it.  Pocket holes are not as strong as mortise and tenon joinery, but for a pistol box, they are more than sufficient.

I hopes this helps.

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Post by chopper on Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:53 am

corsara wrote:
Wobbley wrote:If you have a table saw, you can make joinery cuts.  A dado stack would be helpful.

Unfortunately the table saw I bought is very basic, and the manual explicitly says that dado blades cannot be used with it.. :/
  You don't need a dado stack to make dados or grooves on your table saw. You can make a lot of great joints with it including box joints, miter joints with splines, and many others. Look on youtube and you'll figure how to, your saw is very capable.
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Post by corsara on Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:24 am

Thank you guys!  I feel overwhelmed with information!  I think I'll just go with the glue & screw method for now.  The pocked holes suggestion is great (thanks for the detailed information, which I'll refer to later)!  Also, just watched on youtube how to make dados and other grooves without dado blade.  Nice!  But I think I'll try all of this a bit later with my next project, whatever it is.  One piece of knowledge at a time.  I don't want to jump into more complicated table saw stuff, when I've never used a table saw before.  Also, I intend to prime and paint the pistol box in very dark blue, so the screws will be barely visible.  Aesthetics is not my top priority, however I have a bit of OCD, so I have to get perfect cuts, or else..  Anyway, I'll keep you updated!  Thanks again!

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Post by zanemoseley on Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:32 am

Pocket screws in 1/2" ply is a bad idea. If you're comfortable with the face screwing like you did on the first box just keep that, you did put about 3x as many screws as necessary, one screw every 4-5" is plenty, you can also sink them a bit deeper and fill the hole if you want to dress it up. You could then paint or rhinoline the box to dress it up.

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Post by LongSlide on Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:31 am

SteveT wrote:
Jack H wrote:Not as embarassing as the time I got into the same color Pinto car as mine that my key did not start.

I once unlocked and sat in a Honda the same color as mine, parked a few spaces closer to the store with a big van blocking the view. My first thought was someone had broken in and taken my stuff and left a bunch of other stuff. Then I noticed said thief had also replaced the stick shift with an automatic.

When I looked it up they claimed that there was about a 1 in 10 Million chance of two keys being the same. I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

I also unlocked a blue, 1967 Chevy Impala, got in and could not start the car.  I noticed it had a few differences on the inside and I then realized I was in the wrong car.  It was parked 2 parking spots closer to the K-mart store than where I actually parked.  

I think the 1 in 10 Million odds are overstated.  Either that or a tear off pop can tab could have opened most GM cars.

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Post by corsara on Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:23 am

Hopefully I'll get some free time tonight to work on the box.  It's coming along better than box #1, the table saw is no magic solution, but the cuts are definitely better.  I also bought a small handheld planer, which I find is excellent for touch-ups.  

New dilemma:   prime & paint (I'm thinking oil-based Tremclad / Rustoleum), or go into yet another "new territory", like lining it with faux leather or other fabric.  Can't decide.  Any pro/con's?

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Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:38 am

corsara wrote:Hopefully I'll get some free time tonight to work on the box.  It's coming along better than box #1, the table saw is no magic solution, but the cuts are definitely better.  I also bought a small handheld planer, which I find is excellent for touch-ups.  

New dilemma:   prime & paint (I'm thinking oil-based Tremclad / Rustoleum), or go into yet another "new territory", like lining it with faux leather or other fabric.  Can't decide.  Any pro/con's?
My preference would be for some form of paint.
It's going to get dinged up sooner or later so you might as well plan for the easiest finish to repair.
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Post by GME on Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:10 am

STEVE SAMELAK wrote:
It's going to get dinged up sooner or later so you might as well plan for the easiest finish to repair.

+1 what he said.  

There is always spray on bed liner.  More durable than regular paint.  I believe that's what Greg Wallach at Precision Pistol Box is either using, or offering as an option.  Just a thought . . . .

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Post by corsara on Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:43 am

LenV wrote:You are going to have problems with the lid. There are two good reasons to have the hinge about 2/3 of the way across the top. The first reason is a little easier access to the back of the box. The second reason is more important. It gives the lid something to hold it up when you open it. This allows you to mount a scope, magazine holder, scare patches etc.

I went with this for my 2nd box, but wish I didn't Sad  I now realize that there will be no space for a handle in the middle.  I guess my only option now is to have a strap attached to both sides, which will be pushed back when the box is open.

EDIT:  perhaps I can find a recessed handle, and cut out an opening in the top to install it.  Hmm.

EDIT #2:  Yep, found exactly what I need!

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Post by GME on Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:15 pm

corsara wrote:

I went with this for my 2nd box, but wish I didn't Sad  I now realize that there will be no space for a handle in the middle.  I guess my only option now is to have a strap attached to both sides, which will be pushed back when the box is open.

EDIT:  perhaps I can find a recessed handle, and cut out an opening in the top to install it.  Hmm.

Judging from photos I've seen, recessed handles were fairly common back in the day.  Cut out your hole and glue/screw a larger piece in from underneath to fasten your handle to. You may want to consider putting in brackets for mounting a shoulder carrying strap, since the boxes can be a little awkward to carry.  One can be added later, if you decide you'd like one.

Here's a link to a vintage box with a recessed handle:   https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Vintage-Pachmayr-Super-Deluxe-Gun-Pistol-Case-Range-Box-USA/383608920179?hash=item5950df9873:g:kr4AAOSw2TJe9495

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Post by chiz1180 on Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:56 pm

corsara wrote:Hopefully I'll get some free time tonight to work on the box.  It's coming along better than box #1, the table saw is no magic solution, but the cuts are definitely better.  I also bought a small handheld planer, which I find is excellent for touch-ups.  

New dilemma:   prime & paint (I'm thinking oil-based Tremclad / Rustoleum), or go into yet another "new territory", like lining it with faux leather or other fabric.  Can't decide.  Any pro/con's?
I have made two cases for music equipment that I wrapped in tolex (textured vinyl), it is tricky. You ideally need all your corners rounded and making corner seams is an art. When done right it looks good and is durable.

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Post by corsara on Thu Oct 29, 2020 1:04 pm

Still working on the box, chipping away a little bit every evening.  I've pretty much finished the box, door and tray.  Now I need to design the gun holder (the slots), any suggestions?   Then I'll be sanding, painting, installing hardware (handle, lock, corners).....

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Post by GME on Thu Oct 29, 2020 1:22 pm

Here's a "rack by Hyskore.  https://hyskore.com/products/30277-6-gun-eva-pistol-rack/  and another from  Benchmaster.  https://benchmasterusa.com/product/four-gun-pistol-rack/

Hyskore makes an Aluminum box and uses their pistol rack in it.  https://hyskore.com/products/30259-competition-range-box/

I've never seen any of these products "in the flesh" and really don't know anything about them.  Maybe someone will come along with some first hand knowledge.

I provided the links because you mentioned "the slots", versus some sort of clamping fixture, such as are more traditional.

Remember:  We like photos.

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Post by corsara on Thu Oct 29, 2020 1:57 pm

GME wrote:Here's a "rack by Hyskore.  https://hyskore.com/products/30277-6-gun-eva-pistol-rack/  and another from  Benchmaster.  https://benchmasterusa.com/product/four-gun-pistol-rack/

Hyskore makes an Aluminum box and uses their pistol rack in it.  https://hyskore.com/products/30259-competition-range-box/

I've never seen any of these products "in the flesh" and really don't know anything about them.  Maybe someone will come along with some first hand knowledge.

I provided the links because you mentioned "the slots", versus some sort of clamping fixture, such as are more traditional.

Remember:  We like photos.

Thanks for the links!  But yeah, I'll go with "clamping", just didn't express it well.  Already have a few ideas.  I'll post pics soon!

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Post by corsara on Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:11 am

Time for a progress update on box #2 Smile I've made a lot of progress yesterday.  Here are my comments:

1) I'm stupid---you know I've used a 3D program to design the box before cutting the plywood.  Well, in all measurements, I assumed that 1/2 and 1/4 are exactly that, but as it turns out, the baltic birch is actually 12mm and 6mm, which is tiny bitt off, enough to create a lot of alignment issues!  Wish I realized that earlier.

2) The clamps is something I designed in the 3D program, and 3D printed from PLA plastic using my hobby 3D printer.  3D design and printing is one of my other hobbies (along with too many other hobbies).  I made it completely modular, so I can accomodate different guns.  Those in the pictures are my bulleye 22s (a S&W Victory and a S&W model 41 with a 7 3/8 barrel from the late 50's, which with the red dot is almost 8 inch high).  

NEXT:

+ Decide on a lock (keyed lock in the center, or two hinged hasps on the two sides, which I think I prefer more since I'll be able to use my combination locks and not mess with keys).

+ Remove all hardware, sand really well, put primer, then paint.  I've bought Rustoleum oil based primer and semi-gloss black paint.

+ Decide on compartments in the lower section.  Rather than screw&glue, I'll just make them from 1/4 plywood so I can remove them and reconfigure the space.  I still don't have a scope, I intend to buy a small basic one that will attach to the door and fit in the space below the guns, probably just the left 1/2, but we'll see.


Last edited by corsara on Thu Nov 12, 2020 6:16 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Asa Yam on Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:59 am

If you plan on using the box to mount the scope, planning on securing the lid in the "open" position is a must.  Fortunately, a "C" clamp or spring loaded clip works, but plan on some sort of "hold open" device.  Otherwise, a strong breeze may make short work of your spotting scope.  ($$$$, fluttering away....)

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Post by LenV on Sun Nov 01, 2020 10:09 am

It looks like you have quite a bit of clearance between your modular tray and the lid when closed. Even if only holding two pistols that area should be filled by the tray or tightening system so it can not move around during transit.
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Post by oxbowbob on Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:29 am

Looks good!
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Post by zanemoseley on Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:45 am

Well you learned the first lesson of plywood, it's NEVER the advertised thickness. The more expensive the ply the closer it usually is to the specified thickness. At work where we draw 3d cabinet models then CNC cut them we work to 3 decimal places and mic the actual thickness of all panel stock.

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Post by corsara on Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:45 pm

LenV wrote:It looks like you have quite a bit of clearance between your modular tray and the lid when closed. Even if only holding two pistols that area should be filled by the tray or tightening system so it can not move around during transit.

Yep, that's something I overlooked....  While I can certainly make a new tray, I think for now I'll just put some padding at end of the tightening system to touch the lid when closed and prevent it from moving.

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Post by corsara on Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:09 am

Long story short - I started painting.  Here in Canada the Tremclad brand is the same as Rustoleum (actually even made by Rustoleum).  It's oil-based rust paint and primers.  I sprayed the box with the grey primer.  After drying, sanded it with 220 grit.  Then applied first coat of semi-gloss black using a foam roller and foam brush for the corners.   My question is do I need to sand before applying the second coat?


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