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How to Convert a Moulded Toolbox to a Camera Equipment Box
Repurposing Redundant Moulded Tool Box as a Carry Case for Expensive Camera Equipment
Originally this solid, impact resistant plastic pre-moulded box, about 2 feet by 18 inches and one foot in depth, safely stored my Evolution Rage multipurpose circular saw when not in use. However, a close friend of mine recently offered me a second hand jig specifically to house circular saws and use them like a crosscut or optionally a rip saw simply by rotating the jig housing unit by 90 degrees and locking it in position. He let me have the jig for a very reasonable and irresistible price; an offer I could not refuse. It is not as good as a bench saw but more versatile; albeit it takes a few minutes to unhouse the circular saw from the jig. Therefore, except for when needed as a conventional hand held circular saw, I now keep the saw permanently set up on the jig and its original storage and carry case empty.
It was at this point that I was conscious of my son’s need, as a professional freelance photographer, videographer and cinematographer, for good storage and transport boxes for various and expensive camera and lighting equipment. In looking at my now redundant circular saw storage box I saw the potential as a good sturdy and large storage and carry box for some of his equipment when he’s working on a commissioned job; albeit, being pre-moulded specifically for the circular saw it does not lend itself to storing anything else.
To make it useful as a general purpose storage box I would need to remove the pre-moulding; something I have attempted before using a Stanley knife, but not very successfully because the pre-moulding is very tough and difficult to cut; and you invariably end up with lots of jagged edges, which although could be smoothed down and made safe with sandpaper, is not very satisfactory. Therefore, after sitting down with a good cup of coffee and a think, I decided the way forward would be to use my Dremel to remove the pre-moulding; the Dremel being highly suited for this type of task.
Time required: 2 hours
- Old moulded tool box
- Foam or old soft cushion etc.
- Dremel cutting wheels (cut off discs)
- Safety Goggles
- Fine sandpaper
1. The first step is to get out the Dremel and fit a cutting disc (cut off wheel) to it, and get your safety goggles ready. As anyone who uses a Dremel will know the cutting discs are not very strong and wear down quickly, if they do not break first. However, they are cheap, and easy to replace; you can buy pots of 36 or better still 20 heavy duty discs for just a few pounds (dollars).
2. This is the redundant moulded tool box where I use to keep my circular saw safe until I semi-permanently fitted it to the circular saw jig my friend let me have for a very reasonable price.
The task in hand is to use the Dremel fitted with cut off discs to carefully and patiently cut around the inside edge of the tool box to separate it from the plastic pre-mouldings on the inside; base and lid.
3. In the process of removing the pre-moulding you will get through quite a few Dremel cutting discs, but they are not expensive so it is worth it. The end result is that you end up with a nice deep empty box ideal for general storage.
Once you cut around all the edges and try to lift the pre-moulded tray out you may get resistance in one or two places; these are spots where the tray is glued or welded to the side or bottom of the box. Again with the Dremel, you can work on these odd spots carefully, cutting into the tray only, around these areas of high resistance, and ensuring at all costs you do not cut into or damage the box itself.
4. Once you have removed the bottom tray repeat the procedure for the lid. Once both lid and base pre-moulded inner trays have been removed they can be discarded. You may wish to inspect the edges and if necessary quickly run sandpaper around them just to smooth them off; but the Dremel does such a good job that this will only take a moment.
5. When the plastic pre-mouldings are removed to repurpose the old tool box as a camera equipment box you will need to pack it out with soft cushioned material to hold the equipment firmly and keep it safe. You can buy special foam for this and cut it to shape to fit your equipment e.g. camera and lenses etc. However, I like to recycle materials whenever possible and recently we replaced the cushions on our sofa with firm sofa foam. The old cushions, about two feet square, are 100% polyester fibre filling, and very soft; too soft for comfort. So to make our sofa firmer and more comfortable we replaced them with firm foam, which has worked a treat. However this left us with three redundant cushioned seats, two of which have been reused to make cat beds and this, the third one now to be repurposed as protective cushions in this repurposed tools box.
6. Before I finished cutting the two moulded trays from the box I tried the cushion for size and concluded that if it was cut in half the two halves would fit into the two sides of the box snuggly. Therefore I cut the cushion in half and gave the two halves to my wife to make good; she did so by covering them with two old pillow cases; as shown in this photo.
It may not look from the photo that there is much room left for storing my son’s camera or lighting equipment, but these polyester cushions are so soft that if you press on them they sink almost to the bottom of the box, and reform to snuggly take the shape of your hand, holding it firmly but gently; ideal for keeping any expensive and delicate equipment safe and secure during transit.
Alternative Storage Solutions
If you don’t have a spare moulded toolbox to adapt for protective storage for camera equipment then any hard cover case might potentially be idea; dependent on its size e.g. an old suitcase.
With an old suitcase, the principle of lining it with suitable protective material would be the same e.g. using the stuffing from an old pillow, cushion to make bespoke made to measure sacks that snuggly fit into the case (that the equipment can be sandwich between, or using foam made to measure.
Using a Dremel to Help Upcycle and Repurpose Storage Boxes
As illustrated in the step-by-step guide above I describes in a few simple steps how with the aid of the Dremel I was able to quickly and easily repurpose a pre-moulded tool box for a camera equipment box.
All photos in the making of this camera and lighting equipment carry box from upcycling the moulded tool box were taken by me.
I would be interested in your feedback in the two polls below on upcycling old tool boxes and whether you find the Dremel useful.