Ammo Can Keepsake box

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Project by GeneR posted 06-19-2014 01:20 AM 2984 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Alright, I know, I know, it has been quite awhile since I posted anything but being in a car wreck will tend to keep you from being in the shop awhile. I am ok just a small fender bender but it did hurt my back.

This was a crazy Idea that popped in my head while I was at the military surplus store. As I was walking around looking at all the vintage military gear I stumbled across a pallet of these 4’ long 106mm high explosive rifle round cases for dirt cheap. Being that I come from a military family but never being military my self I though I could use my skill to create a work of art that I hoped would honor our hard working and dedicated soldiers.

So I bought one and started tearing it apart, being that I would not be able to make anything until I saw the rough dimensions of what I had to work with. (this was no easy feat tearing this apart it was built to stay together, as it should being that it was holding high explosive ordinance at some point.)

The dimensions ended up smaller then expected so the creative juices started to flow, surprisingly without beer this time. lol and I decided to make a gun display box for a 1911 size pistol. (however when done the 1911 is just too big to be centered in the clear top. I ran all the lumber through my planer on 1 side in order to clean it up. I did not want to rub off any lettering to maintain authenticity of the piece. once dimensioned I decided on the box size roughly 11 1/2” x 8” x 4”. (this allowed me to keep the lettering on the lid.)

I then ran 1 edge of each board through the planer to get a straight edge and then cleaned up the 3rd edge of all the pieces on the table saw. Next to the router table and cut out the box joint s with a Rockler Box Joint Jig.

I then sanded and finished the interior pieces with Danish oil and spray polyurethane. I also ran a small dado in the bottom inside edge of the box in order to hold the bottom. (which was also cut glued and planed to about 3/8” still made from the same ammo can)
I also used the same finish on the bottom and then I glued it all up, then used band clamps with homemade corner squares to hold it together. the bottom plate was also glued in at this time to help square up the box. Besides we all know I hate using screws and nails, but prefer more traditional craftsmanship. (But in my case it may be crapmanship. LOL)

As the box was drying I built the lid using lap joint and a piece of Lexan that a friend sent me. (WARNING: Do NOT under any circumstance try to polish Lexan it is way so soft and will mar easily.)

Usually I like to use dowels or splines to reinforce corner joints but had an apifany, apiphany? Oh Hell! an idea to use 5.56mm rifle casings as dowels. God for bid I got a few of those spent casings lying around. SO I figured out the length I wanted then used a 3/8” drill bit on my drill press to drill the corners of the lid as not to go all the way through it. I then cut a scrap piece of wood to the same thickness as I wanted to make the casing and drilled the same 3/8” hole in it. I used this block to be able to quickly mark the length on the casing. I then used a small pipe cutter to cut them down to size with out denting or misshaping them.

Once the casings were cut I used thick CA glue to glue them in place. (I chose this so the glue would disappear in the weathered lid but any type of glue or epoxy would do.) This was set aside to dry. I did use Danish oils on the lid prior to putting in the Lexan and gluing it up to try and minimize overspray.

After looking at it I decided it needed feet to stand up Proud like our soldiers, so I used some scrap figured cherry. The shape was cut on the band saw and sanded on a disc sander then to the final 300 grit by hand. This was then finished with cherry colored Danish oil and wipe on gloss poly.

I then chipped any excess glue off the inside of the box, then sanded the box joint corners flat and lightly sanded the exterior to just clean it up a little while trying to keep the lettering. I then used natural Danish oil and spray on poly to finish it. Once dry I lightly sanded where the feet were going to attach and then used titebond 2 wood glue to attaché the feet. I turned the box upside down and clamped the feet to it to hold them until dry. (Level was not a concern at this point)

Once the feet dried I took the box to the table saw and lowered the blade until about 1/32 was barely over the zero clearance insert. I then figured out which feet needed to be lowered to get it to sit level and essentially used the table saw as an aggressive sander. (best to use a blade with a flat kerf for a smoother cut)

The hinges were installed backwards with a small mortis to inset the round part in which the pin goes through. (this was done so that a standard hinge would act like a 90 degree stop hinge, but way cheaper.)

I also finished the lid with spray poly and then attaché it when dry and added the front clasp.

I hope I did our men and women in uniform proud with this one and I hope you all enjoy it.

Look for it on ebay soon.

-- Failure is always an option. :-)

8 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3061 days

#1 posted 06-19-2014 01:40 AM

Great looking and very nicely done.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View doubleDD's profile


9458 posts in 2811 days

#2 posted 06-19-2014 03:04 AM

Simply great work with this. Perfect how you kept enough stamping to keep it original in respect.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 2762 days

#3 posted 06-19-2014 03:33 AM

nice job. like a lot!

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View drbyte's profile


844 posts in 4831 days

#4 posted 06-19-2014 12:44 PM

Nice box! Your dowels are a really great idea! But if it was 4’ long originally why did you cut it down so small that ” the 1911 is just too big to be centered”? A 4’ box sounds big enough to make 3 this size?

-- Dennis, WV

View GeneR's profile


151 posts in 2706 days

#5 posted 06-19-2014 01:17 PM

@drbyte the reason being it was cut down is like I said these box are meant to stay together and they use these large staples that just could not be pried out. So I had to use a band saw to cut the cross bracing on the lid and bottom away which left smaller then expected pieces which coincidentally had the writing I wanted for the top.

The 1911 would fit in the box but because of the rustic design of the lids overlap is what prevented you from seeing the whole gun.

-- Failure is always an option. :-)

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2644 days

#6 posted 06-19-2014 06:53 PM

nice job. recycled wood is always a plus!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3772 days

#7 posted 06-21-2014 08:58 PM

Great idea for the top, and the reuse of the wood

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Shuja's profile


270 posts in 2335 days

#8 posted 09-02-2015 03:16 PM

BOOOM dowels?!

-- shuja

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