Our friend Joe Mooney of Homesteadonmics is back at it again with another one of his metal projects – this time he’s built a tool or battery box for his travel trailer. Everyone loves aluminum tread plate and who better to show you how to build your own toolbox than Joe!
Joe needed a rugged container that would fit in a large open space at the front of his trailer, and he decided to build one that would fit the trapezoidal shape perfectly. The diamond plate project began with tread plate purchased and cut to size at Industrial Metal Supply, which made the sheet more manageable and transportable. He started with a 16’ length of aluminum tread plate that was .100 thick.
Find the Right Measurements
He also used IMS’s shearing service to get the main dimension, a long 16-in. wide strip for the walls and sides of the box.
At home, Joe measured the dimensions needed to fit the trailer frame. Then, using a carbide tipped wood blade on a circular saw, he cut a piece of treadplate to use as a baseplate and template to determine the angles and shape for the box.
To create the 16-in. strip for the walls of the box, Joe measured and marked off the location of the corners of his baseplate. He turned the strip of plate over to the inside and scored perpendicular lines about 25% to 30% of the way through the depth, to make it easier to bend the corners. Then he used an angle grinder to clean up and soft the score marks.
With the help of a strip of 2×2-in. lumber, Joe began the process of bending the aluminum strip at the score marks to make the walls of the box. After completing the bending process, he measured and cut the strip to the exact length needed to create the back wall of the box.
Welding Your Tool Box
To weld the box together, Joe used a MiG spool gun on a Forney 190 multi-process welder with 100% argon gas. Housing the aluminum weld wire in a spool on the back of the gun is preferred due to its softness.
This was Joe’s first time welding with a spool gun, so it took a few tries to get the settings right – such as wire speed, voltage, and amount of shielding gas – but he persisted. In some cases, he actually burned through the aluminum in spots, and he had to go back over some of the earlier welds after improving his technique.
Holding the sides together with a clamp, first, he tack welded the sides and base in spots. Even though the sides were made of one continuous piece of treadplate, Joe needed to weld the length of each corner because the scoring and bending process compromised their strength. He also welded the sides to the bottom of the box.
To seal the back seam opening, Joe added a scrap piece of aluminum plate, making it easier to weld the seam shut.
Joe made a lid of the same diamond plate as the toolbox. He cut a piece that was about 2-in. larger around than the base on each side, which he then scored and bent to overlap the box sides (making a triangular cutout on each corner). Bending the edges was tricky and required a mallet, some clamps, and some rectangular steel pipe.
After welding the corners of the lid together, Joe welded strips of aluminum angle together to make a frame on the inside of the lid and around the inside top of the box to reinforce it and give it more structure. He also installed a peel and stick rubber gasket, stainless steel hinge, some aluminum coated insulation, and a latch to hold the lid in place.
Watch the video here to see all the great details of Joe’s diamond plate tool box!
Industrial Metal Supply is the Southland’s largest supplier of metal and metalworking equipment and accessories. For more information, contact us at www.IndustrialMetalSupply.com.