General

Building a “War Chest”

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Space is a valuable thing, and clutter stresses me out. It is a regular struggle in my house to strike a balance between keeping things easily accessible, but not letting clutter build up. My shooting gear, for instance, dominates my office and overflows from the closet. I have a small stacking shelving unit that contains most of it, but much still ends up on the floor or in other areas of the house. A few months ago, I decided to find a better way to consolidate it.

_DSC0698MosinCoffeeTable-AQuite a while ago, I saw a thread on AR15.com where a poster turned an old Soviet Mosin-Nagant crate into a coffee table. I always really liked the idea, but could never find such a crate locally. Shipping one was not an option, as the freight on one would be more than the crate itself. I started looking at smaller crates, and was particularly inspired by old WWII and Korea artillery shell crates. But these were not big enough for my needs.

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IMAG0397.159183620_stdEventually, I came across a company called Bunker Boxes, which makes modern versions of these kinds of crates and sells them. They are apparently quite popular among the airsoft crowd. As I looked at these, I figured that building one for myself was probably an easy enough task. I settled on doing a larger version of the old artillery crate, but long enough to hold my longest rifle, tall enough to stack ammo cans, and deep enough to
hold all of auxiliary gear and a rifle. So, that worked out to roughly 68x24x18 inches for interior dimensions.

I happened to have some scrap plywood lying around from building another plyo box for my wife, so I used it to rough together a smaller version of what I wanted and see where any problems might arise. I ended up with a pretty decent ammo box for range trips. I also learned the best way to attach hinges for my use, and how to work out alignment issues.

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The practice box

Tools:

Drill
Circle Saw
Jigsaw
Router with roundover bit

Materials List:

4 pine boards 1″x12″x68″ to serve as the base and lid
2 pine boards 1″x10″x10 ft to serve as the sides (cut each one in half for two five foot boards)
2 pine boards 1″x”10″x4 ft to serve as the ends and rifle holder
2 pine strips 1″x3″ x 10 ft to serve as end braces, skids, and stiffeners
1 4 ft length of 2×2 to serve as handles
A box of 1.5″ decking screws
Three pack of heavy duty standard door hinges (big decorative gate hinges would have worked as well)
Locking hasp closureParacord and four eyelets

Finishing:

Sandpaper in 150 grit and 220 grit
Minwax Golden Oak stain/sealant
Cheap sponge paint brush
Rags to wipe

The Process:

I’m not expert woodworker by any means. I chose this design because it is supposed to look a little rough and slapped together, just like the original artillery crates. Any imperfections in straight edges or such caused by my relative lack of skill would only end up making it look more “authentic.”

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That said, there are a couple lessons learned from this project. I bought all my wood at Home Depot, but I’m sure the lessons apply to most lumber. Even though the tag says 1×10, it is actually about ¾” thick and 9.5″ wide. All of my original measurements were based on the wood actually being the advertised dimensions. Once I figured out that it wasn’t, I had to kind of work on the fly. As the old saying goes: measure twice, cut once.

I used a biscuit jointer for the top, base, front, and rear to help with the strength. With the biscuit joints and four stiffening 1×3, I’m pretty sure the base will hold just about anything.

The rifle holders are just scrap pieces of the 1×10 cut to about 1x10x7, and then “U” cut out of the middle. I took the router to the inside  to round it out, but I may get some rubber weather stripping and glue it here.

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Once it was all together, I installed some eyelets for the paracord. Make sure to put the ones on the lid further inside than the ones inside the box. I went two inches from the edge on the lid. This keeps the cord on the inside of the box when you close it. I tied a non-slip mono loop for the bottom eyelets, and used the taut line hitch for the lid; this lets me adjust tension on both lines independently and balance out the load between the two cords.

For stain, I used Minwax Golden Oak stain/sealant, and then attached four rubber feet to the bottom skid to protect the floors in my house.

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Staining the lid

Overall, I’m pretty damn happy with it. I can store any of my rifles, copious ammunition, and most of my auxiliary shooting gear in once place. Obviously, my actual rifles will live in the safe when not in use, but this does offer a nice way to display them if I want to. Most of the time, I imagine the pictured airsoft M16A2 will sit in the holder, just for effect (I got that when I was in high school.many moons ago, before I could buy real guns).

Eventually, I’m sure I will outgrow this box. But, I’m already imagining that it’s distant purpose will be something that my kids, or grandkids, could someday open and find my old military gear and “memories” of my time in the Air Force.

Anyway, this was my project for the last couple weekends. Hopefully I’ll be out on the range this weekend focusing on pistol shooting this coming weekend.

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