Making a Gun Crate or 'War' Chest


November 12, 2008, 11:30 PM
I live in a low crime area and keep my guns in a reasonably secure room. I also tend to transport my guns a lot. So, I would like to build a gun crate. Something that looks reasonably nice (military theme, cowboy nostalgia theme, etc I don't care) yet remains functional. The idea is to keep it small enough that I can put it in the backseat/large trunk yet large enough to store 4-5 long guns. It should be deep enough so that guns can remain on the top rack while cleaning supplies, ammo, etc can lay on the bottom. Handles on the ends for easy carry. It would also be nice to have it reasonably airtight so I can throw some desiccant in there and not have to worry about rust. I'm guessing a good coat of epoxy on the inside of the wood and some rubber seals on the lid will work for that purpose. Has anyone built or seen something like this before? Anyone know where I could buy a pre-made gun crate that I can modify? If not, I'm going to attempt a build so suggestions are welcome.

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November 12, 2008, 11:40 PM
Look at Michell's Mausers website and I'm sure you'll get some Ideas...#2 pine would make a suitable marerial for a ''transit chest''.Slap a padlock on it,and make sure you store your ammo seperately,and you'll have saisfied most states tranportation requirments,as well.

November 12, 2008, 11:59 PM
By all means, make it yourself. Shape it like an old fashioned coffin, and if you do a good job, a thief isn't likely to even want to look inside.

Kind of Blued
November 13, 2008, 01:58 AM
Can't help you much, but that crate of 1894s made me drool.

November 13, 2008, 02:34 AM
If you give me some gun over all lengths, hights(scopes) I'd be happy to draw you up some plans real quick with a material list... may take me a week or so.

Also include a list of tools you have at your disposel... and how much you want to spend.

edit... oh yeah what kind of exp you have had building things.

November 13, 2008, 03:21 AM
Sounds like a fun project. I just did a quick search on the internet and found this gun chest at Sam's club:
You may want something smaller, but I like the idea of the locking drawer(s) on bottom so you can keep ammo, cleaning stuff, and handguns accessible but separate.

I like the beat up look in that picture you posted. Maybe put some rope handles on the ends.

Have you considered making a cart instead of a crate/chest?

November 13, 2008, 03:30 AM
Off the top of my head,#2 or #3 pine [more knots] so called ''1x12'' is 3/4'' by 11 1/2''.So,if you were to cut 3 pieces 4' [feet] long,use one for the bottom,and place two on top of that for a back and front,so you'd need two pieces of 3/4 x11 1/2 12 1/4'' long for the ends.The top,to fit between the ends,would also have to be 4'[feet] long.Add hinges,and stain to your taste.Rope handles can be added,by drilling holes,and knotting the rope inside the box.''Feet'' can be added to the bottom by cutting 1x2's 11 1/2'' screwed to the bottom useing 1 1/4'' dacrotized or stainless drywall screws.If you dislike the idea of pierceing your nice box for rope handles,this same 1x2 method can be used to put handle strips on each side,or you can get precarved d ring type wooden drawer pulls or handles from the cabinet section of your local hardware
4 pc.s 1x12''x4'l.
4 pc.s1x2''x11 1/2''
2 pc.s 1x12x12 1/4''l.
1lb.1 1/4''sst.drywall screws
some 3/4''hemp rope[if you decide to go this route,you can forgo two of the 1x2 strips]
also you can buy the 16 lineal feet of 1x12 pine,but then you'll have to cut it yourself]
or,you know,whatever.

November 13, 2008, 10:02 AM
I too have wanted to do something similar wacki. It sounds like you have it pretty well planned out already.

November 13, 2008, 10:13 AM
that crate of 1894s made me drool
Oh yea!

Building one should be fairly easy. Pine, as suggested, is cheap and easy to work with. Stain, if you want, but seal it well for sure.

November 13, 2008, 10:15 AM
Some ideas at this site also:
I modified the design slightly for my build.

November 13, 2008, 11:02 AM
A few years ago I built a transit chest for my 1919, M2 tripod, A6 bipod & stock, belt loading machine, and all the various tools and support equipment that goes with it. IIRC I used 1/2" ply, with reinforcements at all corners & joints. It was not waterproofed or lined - I made it as a simple transit chest to keep all the 1919 stuff in one box for going to shoots. I figured if I wanted lighter weight, waterproof, and heavy padding, I'd ust use my giant SKB.

The top had a double lock on it, and was completely removable (ie. not on a hinge). I also had two brackets on the underside of the lid, so the lid could be removed & flipped over on the chest. The brackets would act as stops for the feet of the A6 bipod, so the box could double as a shooting platform with empties dropping right into the box. It was a cool set-up, but just heavy as hell.

If you're considering making a chest, just think about what features are important to you. If weight, portability, and waterproofing are major concerns, you'd probably be better off with something more like an SKB or Starlight than a heavy wooden chest. OTOH, if the look is important, and you like that old wooden military transit chest look, then grab a hammer & a saw.

November 13, 2008, 03:51 PM
you want a transit case that's big enough to suit your equipment.

it wont be cheap, but will last all of your life time and a few more to boot.

water and vapor sealed.

pressure reg. valve

lot's of places on line...

go to and check out the military cases section.

November 13, 2008, 04:06 PM
'' I too have wanted to do something similar wacki. It sounds like you have it pretty well planned out already...''
I used to work in a lumber yard,about three times a week a customer would come in with this idea and say ''what would I need to do this?''.I must've helped about a hundred folks build one,I even built a ''half box'' for myself,for all my black powder stuff .

November 14, 2008, 10:40 AM
You can look at these guys for some ideas, they make custom BPRC rifle boxes.

December 14, 2008, 02:20 PM
I have a vacation coming up and will be spending some of it working on this project. I'm going to pick up a bunch of 1"x8"x8' or similar boards at the local hardware store. Standard pine grade. I'm thinking of joining the boards with dowels and gorilla glue. This will form the skin. Then I'll space some 1"x2" and 1"x1" boards on the inside for a more solid frame. Kind of like how an airplane is constructed. Thoughts?

Thoughts? I'm wondering how wide it should be. I was hoping to make something that could hold 6-8 rifles on the top rack and cases of ammo on the bottom. Anyone have any dimensions for a case of 7.62x54R ammo? I'm buying some Mossins soon and that or the .308 is the probably the largest by-the-case surplus ammo I'll shoot. For the gun rack I was thinking of simply cutting "U" shaped holes on a 1"x2" and then coating the "U" with some leather/felt.

Any advice/feedback is welcome. I'll post pics of the project as I go along. I should start construction around Christmas time.

December 14, 2008, 04:12 PM

A couple of thoughts on the physical construction of your box:

1) Don't use Gorilla Glue. Polyurethane glues like that (and the Elmer's Polyurethane glue, etc.) are quite weak in comparison to yellow carpenter's glue (Titebond is good, but any other's sold as yellow wood glue will be as well).

Fine Woodworking did a torture test a year or so ago to determine all the relevant characteristics of the major common wood joining glues. Yellow glue, white glue (PVA), epoxies, Gorilla Glue, and the rest. The old traditional yellow glue came out on top in just about all the tests, with the PVAs and epoxies pretty close to yellow glue's performance. THE GORILLA GLUE FAILED FAR EARLIER, usually only having about 1/3 the strength of any of the others. And, when tested in a loose-fit joint, where its vaunted "gap-filling" capabilities should have shone, it sucked EVEN WORSE. AND, it proved to not be very water-resistant, either.

All that to say, get yourself a bottle of yellow wood glue and be confident that you've got the best stuff out there. And remember that a glued joint depends greatly on proper fit-up (no gaps) and solid clamping pressure while the glue is drying/curing.

2) You've mentioned doweling the boards together. Are you a practiced hand at that kind of work? If that's not something you do often you may find good results somewhat difficult to produce. I'd suggest purchasing a "Plate Joiner" (often called a "Biscuit Joiner") and a supply of the compressed wood "biscuits" that they work with. You can get very good results quite easily, because the machine does most of the layout and joint matching for you, and the joints are very strong. (Again, use good yellow glue and plenty of clamping pressure.)

Good luck and post some pics when you're done!


December 14, 2008, 05:15 PM
Kind of Blued said-Can't help you much, but that crate of 1894s made me drool.

+1 on that statement, I'd love to have those. Would prefer 92s, but 94s (that old) will do in a pinch.


P.S.- Where's the drooling smiley when you need it???

December 14, 2008, 07:16 PM
I kinda went the other way. I used a freight-damaged plastic golf-bag case, used plastic rectangular fencing tubes as dividers, and wound up with something that goes entirely without notice when I wheel it around.

Just golf clubs, right?

Ohio Gun Guy
December 14, 2008, 08:59 PM
I;ll have to post a picture, but my other hobbie is wood working/cabinet making. I build a nice rustic looking box out of cedar for My AK, holds the Ak and all the stuff. I even painted chinese charicters I looked up on babblefish onto the box. I'll go out and take some pictures........

THe only problem is, that with the gun and the stuff (No ammo) it is rather heavy and not as practical as I intended. Still looks good. :D

December 15, 2008, 12:00 PM
I wonder what the milsurp (or other) dealers do with the empty crates after they've sold all the guns in the crates. Of course they have other uses, but it seems to me there ought to be a couple left over that aren't going to be used for firewood.

I remember thinking I'd like to have one or two of those crates after I saw that a dealer was selling 59/66s out of the crates at a gunshow last year. I was tempted to give him my card so I could come by on Sunday after the show and pick one up from him. Beats dead-heading an empty crate back to his store (or whatever) or just throwing them out by the show facility's dumpster... another source?

I also wonder what the DCM/CMP has left over after issuing Garands to civilians. What, do they make pallets out of them or something? Sell them to paper companies?

Same with the big importers.

I guess I'd prefer 91/30 crates over a 59/66 crate (it's longer), but even so, a 59/66 crate would hold a couple of goodies for me.

Terry, 230RN

December 15, 2008, 12:07 PM
Stencil "Caution- Live Venomous Snakes" on the outside. Just for good measure.

December 15, 2008, 01:35 PM
Stencil 'Spider eggs, 10,563. Unsealed. Store in a cool dry space. Open only in a controlled laboratory space.' for good measure.

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