Wood ammo crates
Step 1: Gathering your tools
- “Skinny Sticks” – Found at Wal-Mart.
- Craft Mat (or whatever they call these mats with the grids with the measurements)
- Hot Glue Gun w/glue sticks
- Exacto Knife
- Small Flat Head Screwdriver (for scraping glue away)
- Side Cutters and Preferred cutting tools for the sticks (I use a band saw, but not everyone has this. You may want to use a dremel with a cutting attachment or a good hobby saw)
- Lighter (for burning away those pesky hot glue stringers)
Step 2: Selecting the best pieces of wood
In the bags of Skinny Sticks you will find a few sticks that are warped or slightly deformed. Pick out the best ones, but don’t scrap the bad ones, they can come in handy if you just need a small piece or you can use them for stir sticks for paint, etc.
Pick out the skinnier of the sticks and set them aside, these also come in handy if you need to add slight width to a piece and don’t want to have to trim excess.
Step 3: Figuring out the size of crate you want to make
As all of us have a Joe nearby, in my case my trusty Clutch, use your figures to determine the size for scale comparison. If you are building crates for particular items, keep them around as reference.
For this crate I’m using a standard size that I build a lot of.
Step 4: Laying out the sticks to build your first side of the crate
Determine how tall your crate needs to be, without the lid and lay them out parallel to each other.
Use a good straight block to help you line them all up with the grid reference on you mat. Using the grids is an easy way to guide your layout of your parts. Once you get everything lined up, run a bead of glue and lay another stick on the edge to keep them together. Try to keep this as flush to the end as possible; it will reduce your cutting later.
Once you have your first piece glued, determine how long you want the side to be and glue another stick at that point.
You may have some glue that seeps out from underneath, just use your knife to run the edge and use your flat head to scrape it away.
Once you have your 2 side posts laid down you can lay the sticks for the end pieces, if the crate isn’t longer than the stick. If you crate has sides wider than the remaining material, lay out a second set of sticks to match your sides to do the ends.
For this crate, I can use one set of sticks to make 1 side and 1 end.
Repeat to make the other sides.
Clean glue as needed.
Step 5: Cutting the excess wood
If you have a band saw or scroll saw, these work great. If not use your cutting tool of choice. When you cut, be sure to remember which is the side and which is the end. You will not be trimming the long pieces from the “end piece”; you will need these in place later to hold the lid in place.
You can trim one side flush with the parallel sticks if they were not laid flush to start.
Now cut the “ends” & “sides”.
Step 6: Cleaning the cuts
Use some sandpaper to clean the edges where you made the cuts. When you go to glue them together it will have a cleaner seam.
Step 7: Gluing all the sides together
Lay a thin bead of glue on the inside of the “end” pieces and fit the “side” to it. Make sure you have the bottoms flush with each other or else the crate will be misaligned.
Measure the width of the crate from side to side (outside edges for the width).
You can also lay the crate on several loose sticks to judge the width. This is where the skinnier of the skinny sticks can really come in handy. Once you have the width determined, lay the sticks out and glue like you did for the sides.
Once you have one end completed, use your crate to judge the length of the lid.
You will need to use the standing posts as the reference point. The length will be determined by the inside measurement because the posts will be used to hold the lid in place. It should be a snug fit.
Once you have the length determined, mark it and lay another stick to set the end point.
Trim the pieces like you did the sides, but this time cut it flush on both sides.
Once the lid is cut, test fit it. You may have to do a little sanding to get it right.
At this point you, with the lid on, you can mark and cut the excess off the end pieces. Make sure they are flush with the TOP of the lid.
If you can, leave the lid on while you cut, it will serve as a good guide to make sure you don’t cut them too short. Sand as needed to clean up the cuts. Once the sides have been cut, you can move back to the lid itself. You may want to add some more details or supports for the sticks, larger crates will need this.
Lay a piece long ways, mark and cut. Test fit before gluing.
For this crate I will add a piece to go from corner to corner to help the strips in the lid from bowing.
You can do this for the sides as well. Larger crates will need this, small ones such as this don’t need it but you can add it if you like. Sand and trim glue as needed.
In my earlier crates, I made the bottom out of sticks, but I found that simply using cardboard works just as well. The advantage of sticks is that when you look into the crate empty you can still see the detail that individual sticks adds. The problem arises in cutting them once you have them placed. If you want to measure them prior to placing them, that will work as well.
If you choose to use cardboard just grab any mailer box you having lying around. We Joe collectors have plenty of these. U.S. Postal Priority boxes are great because they are not too thick and don’t eat up space in the bottom of the crate.
You can either measure the inside dimensions or simply lay the piece to mark and then cut it to fit.
Once in place you’ll need to add some supports on the bottom.
Cut the excess. Sand and cut glue as needed.
Step 10: Painting
This is entirely optional. With the cardboard bottom, this is an easy way to hide it.
Once your paint dries, load it up and you are ready to supply all you Joes with the supplies they may need in their diorama adventures!