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Thread: Homemade tool box drawer thickness

  1. #1
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    Question Homemade tool box drawer thickness

    Well I built the stand for my mill so I could add a set of drawers underneath to add some extra weight and I need every inch of storage I can get. Was wondering from those that have done it what gauge sheet metal you went with. I was thinking 20 or 16 my drawers in my other boxes are thinner but they are also stamped to stiffen them. I had originally planned to get a bead roller but HF discontinued there's and I haven't decided if I wanna pay 160 for the one from Woodward fab. Which is basically the same as the HF just more expensive. I also don't wanna drop a ton on sheet metal for the drawers trying to find the happy medium between cost and strength 💪 .what do y'all think ??? those that have done it do you wish you had done it differently ???

  2. #2
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    Depends how wide they will be, but I would prefer 16 ga

  3. #3
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    I would also prefer 16ga. but if you can figure out how to put a rib under the drawer bottom for support you could get away with thinner ga. sheet.
    Of course all this depends on the size of the drawers and what you plan to put in them.
    I've seen big old industrial cabinets with 16 ga. or heavier drawers and still have a ribbed support underneath or dividers spot welded to the inside of the drawer which also add support.

    JL............
    Last edited by JoeLee; 01-12-2019 at 09:25 AM.

  4. #4
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    I would go 20 or 18 gauge depending on the size. 18 gauge is pretty hard to work by hand so count on buying heavy equipment to work 16 gauge. You can use "top hats" under the drawers to add stiffness and weight capacity. The top hats need only be about 1/4" deep. Buy heavy duty drawer slides.

    Do you have a shear? Do you have a spot welder? Can you paint?

  5. #5
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    Remington Industrial has a big hydraulic shear. They charge, but its not to bad. I've bought sheets of 16ga aluminum from them with a planned out cut list before. I think my Tennsmith will handle thicker than 16 gage mild steel, but maybe not 48" wide. Its been a while, but I think it was rated upto 12 ga last time I looked at the specs. Probably need two strong guys to work on material that thick. I think recommended maximum box depth is only 4" though if bending 4 sides of a box. If only bending 2 and the distance from front to back is more than a foot then depth is however much you can manage physically. Of course you can use my brake.

    Spot welding is an option, but you can plug weld on a project like that with some care. Its thin sheet metal so blow out is a possibility, but I've stacked tiny little welds on thin sheet before. I've done it with MIG a by waiting for the last bead to start visibly fading from red to grey and then hit it again. Works amazingly well, and if you get a rhythm it goes pretty fast. You have the machines to do that easily enough. Actually with your pulse MIG you should be able to set it up so you don't even have to do it the way I do. Just fill the plug hole and move on.
    Last edited by Bob La Londe; 01-12-2019 at 11:35 AM.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  6. #6
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    There's things you can't do with a straight sheer. Like cut the corners. If you don't have access to a corner cutter, plan on cutting those by hand. You should also think about bending or rolling over all exposed edges. That adds strength and will save you a lot of pain and blood.

    Buy a few sheets of poster board and make a drawer out that first. Practice with that first! Then use it for a pattern. It will show where to cut and bend. Think about how you will cut the steel while you're making it out of paper. Plan ahead--The drawer sides and bottom should be one-piece.

    A full list of your sheet metal tools would be helpful but all you will need to do is cut and bend it. Then you will need a way to weld it together.

  7. #7
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    I think a lot of this depends on what you're putting into the drawers and their dimensions. But I also suspect that you're like many of us and the big drawers will have a much heavier load than the smaller drawers.

    Another thought is mixed metal and wood for the bigger drawers that will be used with the heaviest items. For example you could get away with 20Ga easily if the bottom had a drop in insert of good 1/2" plywood. The plywood would extend much of the load out and into the vertical sides and stop the bottom from being pushed down.

    I did my benches and drawers from wood. Knowing the loads in the deeper drawers were going to be a lot in some cases I used 1/2" cabinet plywood for the sides and bottoms with the bottoms glued well. And the way I loaded up a few of them I'm really glad I went the extra on them

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    I think a lot of this depends on what you're putting into the drawers and their dimensions. But I also suspect that you're like many of us and the big drawers will have a much heavier load than the smaller drawers.

    Another thought is mixed metal and wood for the bigger drawers that will be used with the heaviest items. For example you could get away with 20Ga easily if the bottom had a drop in insert of good 1/2" plywood. The plywood would extend much of the load out and into the vertical sides and stop the bottom from being pushed down.

    I did my benches and drawers from wood. Knowing the loads in the deeper drawers were going to be a lot in some cases I used 1/2" cabinet plywood for the sides and bottoms with the bottoms glued well. And the way I loaded up a few of them I'm really glad I went the extra on them
    I can vouch for this approach. As an example:

    I have two machinists boxes both are quite old (1930's or 1940's). One is a Craftsman all metal "top box" which has all rolled edges and other reinforcements. Probably 18ga, and its so heavy I need help to move it even when empty. They don't make em like that anymore and its absolutely indestructible.

    The other box is a Craftsman wood box, beautiful quarter sawn oak with *metal* drawer bottoms. They hold the load that they are meant to, but I wouldn't go throwing taper shank tooling in there. Its more for storing mics and indicators, things like that.

    I'm no carpenter at all, its just not my skill. But I could easily see wood drawer sides with a heavy metal bottom working OK with careful fit-up.

  9. #9
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    I measured three toolboxes....

    A Sears rollaround... drawers 0.045 including paint

    A Sears top box ..... Drawers about 0.040 including paint

    A metal machinist box... commercial, but maker unknown ..... drawers 0.045 including paint and maybe an edge of the "flocking" applied inside (measured top lip)

    So there you are
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Tiers View Post
    I measured three toolboxes....

    A Sears rollaround... drawers 0.045 including paint

    A Sears top box ..... Drawers about 0.040 including paint

    A metal machinist box... commercial, but maker unknown ..... drawers 0.045 including paint and maybe an edge of the "flocking" applied inside (measured top lip)

    So there you are
    Paint isn't thin by any means. So from those measurements I'm guessing that the metal is probably around .03 or so. And from the gauge thickness tables that means around 20Ga or perhaps even 22Ga. Or a "good luck finding this size if you're not a major buyer" 21Ga.

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