A camp kitchen box – also called a chuck box or patrol box – stores all your food and cooking supplies for car camping trips. Most kitchen boxes are custom-built by campers or scouts, leading to considerable variation, but they are essentially large boxes, with numerous internal subdivisions to keep everything organized. Three-section designs are popular as they allow you to create a windscreen, by closing the side sections a few inches.
Measure, label and cut all the lumber. You need two, 12-inch-by-30-inch hardwood planks to make the top and bottom of the center section and two, 12-by-21.5-inch pieces to serve as the sides of the center section. Four, 8-by-15-inch hardwood planks will serve as tops and bottoms for the side sections, while four, 8-by-21.5-inch planks will form the sides of these sections. You also need one, 20-by-30-inch and two, 15-by-20-inch sections of 1/2-inch plywood to form the front and back of the box when it is closed. To make the shelves, you need 15, 1-by-12-inch hardwood strips, three, 1-by-28.5-inch strips and six, 1-by-20-inch strips to serve as supports for the shelves. You need nine, 1/4-inch-thick plywood pieces to serve as the shelves – three should be 28.5 by 12, and six should measure 13.5 by 8 inches.
Place each of the 12-inch-wide sides in a vise. Lay the 12-inch-wide top on top of the sides and use the drill to create three equally spaced pilot holes through the top and into each side. Remove the top, apply a bead of wood glue to the top edge of the sides, replace the top and drive a 1 1/4-inch screw through each pilot hole to attach the top firmly to the sides. Flip the structure over – vises are no longer necessary – and attach the 12-inch-wide bottom section just as you did the top. Repeat the process two more times to create the side sections, using the 8-inch-wide tops, bottoms and sides. You should now have one large rectangular frame, and two smaller frames.
Place all three sections flat on the ground and lay the back sections on the corresponding frame. Drill three pilot holes along each edge, remove the plywood, apply wood glue, replace the wood and attach the backs firmly to the sides using screws.
Stand up the center section of the chuck box. Place both side sections in front of the center section, so that the open sides of the side sections face the open side of the middle section. Place one of the piano hinges along the gap between the left section and the center section, and place the other piano hinge on the same spot on the right side. Drive a 1/4-inch screw through each of the holes in both hinges. Now, by swinging the side sections outward, the box should open.
Attach the shelf supports at the desired heights using wood glue and screws. Place the supports for the side sections on the sides of the frame, but the middle section shelves require a support on each side and a long support across the back. While each set of supports must be at identical heights, you can place the shelves at whatever heights you prefer. Once the supports have been secured to the walls, place the shelves on top and secure them in place with wood glue and 1/4-inch screws.
Close the box by swinging the side sections toward the front. Place the latches in the desired locations – one near the top, the other near the bottom – and attach them securely with 1/4-inch screws. Attach a handle to each side, using 1/4-inch-long screws.
Items you will need
- Tape measure
- Hardwood planks, 12 inches wide
- 1/2-inch plywood
- 1/4-inch plywood
- Table saw
- Two vises
- 1 1/4-inch screws
- 4 heavy-duty hinges
- 2 piano hinges, each 20 inches long
- 1/4-inch screws
- 2 heavy-duty handles
- You can apply contact paper or vinyl film to the completed box to protect the wood.
- You can apply external corner protectors to keep the corners from sustaining damage.
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