camera boxI love making videos "in the field" so to speak, at others work shops and other special sites. The problem with doing this is I often need a few extra pieces of photographic gear ... which I have, but for some reason I always seem to leave back in the workshop. I purchased this gear to make my life easier and to make the videos better ... then I go and leave it at home. Time for me to get organized.

I have looked, for a few months, at a variety of camera bags. It's very irritating. Most of the ones shown on-line don't show you what they look like inside, nor to they even give dimensions. The ones I have seen in person have not been suitable for a number of reasons, poor quality, wrong sizes, insides don't work etc.

Time for me to solve my own frustrations and make my own storage and carry case. I started off with a small sheet of Baltic Birch Plywood. This is excellent plywood, even thought it is only 1/2" thick it's seven plys. Very strong, good quality wood and no voids, so that when I cut through it, I don't have to worry that somewhere in the middle will be a big soft spot, or a place where the wood doesn't come together which makes it very hard to join edges.

I decided the best size ... at least for now, is 10" x 10" x 16". This will hold and store the gear I need, and it will also hold my 2 smaller soft carry cases. The bonus to this is I can easily find them and if I use them in the box they help protect the cameras and lenses from bumping together. I really liked this advantage ...

I stared off by cutting the plywood sheet to 10 inches wide on the table saw, using my Freud Combination 50 tooth blade which does and awesome job on this plywood. Next I went to my Makita sliding mitre and cut the length of all the sides. The fronts were 16" and I gang cut them to make sure they were exactly the same length. I did the same with the sides and cut them at 10 inches, less the rabbet that would be cut in the end pieces so the sides were gang cut at 9 inches. I also cut the top of the box which would cover the whole top so it was 16" x 10".

Next ... back to the table saw to cut the rabbet on the front and back pieces and the top. The sides are NOT cut. To figure out how wide to cut the rabbets, I just used a piece of the cut off plywood and measure from the fence to the outside of the Freud blade. that gave me a width of just a bit less that 1/2". The height of the blade was set to 1/4" and all the first cuts for the rabbets were cut.

To make the second cuts that releases the rabbets, again I used the plywood chunk to figure out the height of the blade this time, then used my 1/4" measuring bar to set the saw blades outside edge to the table saw fence, then I cut all the rest of the rabbets which now cleaned out that inner part.

After a quick dry fit to make sure all the parts fit together, I glued the inside of all front and back pieces of the box, then attached the sides. I used my 18 Gauge air nailer to tack the sides together to hold them until the glue was dry. I also used a 90 degree corner clamping jig to ensure the box would be square.

One of the things I did while the glued up box was drying was to make a hole for the handle to fit in. I hate handles that sit on top of boxes. They never stack properly and sometimes things can even slide off, so I wanted this box to be flat on top. I simply measured around the handle then cut the hole out with a scroll saw. I could also have used a jig saw, but the scroll saw does a bit finer work. I then sanded the inside cuts and glued another piece of plywood on the underside of the top and clamped it firmly.

After the glue was dry I attached 4 1/2" x 1/2" strips to the inside edge of the box. This was to give a landing place for the bottom of the box. I did not want the bottom of this box to ever sit flat on a floor, just in case there was some sort of moisture or water leak somewhere when I am not around that would wick up into the camera gear. Just a small built-in safety measure.

After the box sides glue was dry, I glued and tacked in the bottom of the case using 1/4" Baltic Birch Ply, and I glued and clamped the top. I could have used a few small air nail brads, but opted for glue alone.

After all the glues were dry, time to cut the top of the box. I did this on the table saw and just used a measurement that looked good to me, about 2 inches. I cut the 2 sides of the box and the back then stopped to install some wedges on the back side so that the final cut would be a firm and straight cut. I have done these cuts in the past and sometimes if you do not wedge them the cuts can be off a bit which means the lid does not sit on the box a cleanly.

Finally, all I had to do was to attach the hardware. Used brass piano hinge and 2 draw latches for the font, and of course attached the handle.

I had long since decided I was not going to finish this box with anything. I want the box to look very nondescript. It will be holding very valuable camera gear and the last thing I want it too look like is a camera case. Over time the wood will darken and the box will get scuffed and start appearing well used. That's exactly how I want it to look, like an old unused box. 

Hopefully now ... all my gear will be together in one, convenient spot ... at least there is hope now.

Copyright - Colin Knecht