Ridgid toolboxes... and fixing the sadness #3: Fabbing the handles

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Blog entry by Tony Ennis posted 07-23-2017 11:06 PM 846 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Tetris Part 3 of Ridgid toolboxes... and fixing the sadness series Part 4: The tray ends »

I am sure someone already makes the sorts of handles I want, and they do it better. What of it?

So here’s the dealio. I want my trays to stack. I don’t want to lose space to fingerholes or fixed handles. I decided to make handles that pull up out of the tray edges when in use, and drop down into the tray edges when not.

My handles are made of 3/16” dia mild steel rod from the home center. I arbitrarily decided that a 3” wide handle was enough, and that the ‘legs’ of the handle would be 2” max. Making these was as simple as cutting off 7” sections of rod, marking 2” from one end, placing the rod in the vise with the mark level with the top of the jaws, and convincing it sideways with a hammer. Then I measured 3” from the center of the bent rod, marked, and made another 90 degree bend. I did it this way in an attempt to make the handles’ ‘grips’ the same size, and force any extra rod to the end of a leg where it could be trimmed off.

Here’s a pic.

I’m anticipating 2 trays plus I need to remove the entire box, so 6 handles are needed.

Now, the keepers. Because of the realities of the situation, I’m using 3/4” thick tray sides. So I bought 3./4” x 1/8” steel bar from the home center. I cut six 5” pieces and drilled 1/4” holes 3” between centers, centered of course. This allows a little slop/slack in the handle dimensions.

There’s an example. The camera was very exciting by this. That keeper is only 3/4” x 5”.

And one small thing that made me happy was that I tried something new. I liked the first keeper I made. Instead of measuring and marking the next five, I used the first as a template for the length and hole location. For example, I lined up the template and the bar stock and with a file made a nick at the end of the template. I didn’t mark a line, I didn’t measure. The nick was plenty to start the hacksaw. I just trusted my ability to cut a reasonably straight line.

For the holes, I clamped a scrap bar in the vise, butted the template and a blank against it, made the ends even, and used a transfer punch to mark the first hole. I did this on all the blanks, then drilled the single hole in each.

I repeated the same process for the 2nd hole, except instead of trying to make the ends even, I dropped a transfer punch through the template and the hole I just drilled to register the piece, and then used the punch to mark the 2nd hole.

They all fit perfectly.

I still need to drill mounting holes in the keepers.

So here’s how it works. The keepers will be screwed to the top edge of the sides. The legs will drop into oversized holes (perhaps 1/2” dia) drilled into the sides. I’ll press steel “donuts” onto the ends of the legs. These will be about 3/8” diameter. They will be small enough to fit in the holes in the sides, but too large to pass through the 1/4” hole in the keeper. If I really knew how, I’d solder them on. Or perhaps use epoxy or Loc-tite. More to come on that… I am not sure I can press onto the end of the legs without bending them. I was originally going to simply upset the ends of the legs to the point they would not fit through the holes in the keeper. Not happening – the rods will bend before they pein.

-- Tony

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