DIY Camp Chuck Box

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THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD CAMP MEAL. BRISK MORNING AIR, A CUP OF FRESH COFFEE, THE CRACKLING OF THE FIRE, THE DEHYDRATED VEGGIE BURGER IN AN MRE. OKAY, MAYBE NOT THAT LAST ONE. ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OF ANY CAMPING TRIP IS HAVING A PROPER COOKING LOAD-OUT. EVEN WHEN YOU’RE ROUGHING IT, YOU DESERVE TO EAT WELL. THE SOLUTION IS ONE THAT DATES BACK TO THE 1800s AND THE OREGON TRAIL: THE CHUCK BOX.
A chuck box is essentially a kitchen in a box. It stores your cooking stove, fuel, pots, pans, utensils, and food. When open, it offers a flat prep surface for a proper fireside meal and keeps all of your kitchen essentials neatly organized and in one place. Since it’s portable, you can leave it in the trunk of your rig or set it up on a picnic table. Best of all, when the trip is over, you don’t have to unpack everything. Simply stash the box in your garage and it’s ready to go for the next outing.

In this how-to we’ve teamed up with Peter Capar of @ptreesworkshop to provide you with a full build design for a simple, customizable, chuck box using a single sheet of plywood.

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01/01/1978 | Meat wrapped in quilt on tailgate, chuck box, and bedrolls | Marshall, Howard W.

“Over my years of camping I’ve built several versions of this wonderful little box and the one shown below is the most versatile. The plans will guide you through the entire build, but the real fun comes from customizing it to your own personal camp cooking needs. Add or remove a shelf, use some organizers, or even resize it to fit your whole Coleman stove: there is no wrong answer. Feel free to play with the dimensions and design to best fit the supplies and equipment you already have.”

SUPPLIES NEEDED:


4 x 8 sheet of 1/2 inch plywood

Circular saw / Track saw / Table saw (Any of the 3 can do the whole project)

Pocket Hole Jig

Drill + Bits

Screw Driver / Impact Driver + Bits

Tape measure

Square

Pencil

Wood glue

2 Sets of hinges

1 Set of heavy duty handles

1 Set of cabinet handles

1 Latch

2 small hooks

1.5’ of wire, string, or chain

STEP BY STEP


1) Break down your plywood sheet into the individual parts based on the cut list. The whole project uses about two-thirds of the 4×8 sheet, so don’t sweat it if you make a mistake or want to make changes.

2) Make sure to label all the pieces and specify the “show face” (or pretty side) of the plywood.

3) Mark all the areas that need to have pocket holes drilled (see cut list for details):
a. Back Panel (E) – left and right side
b. Side Panels (A) – (left panel) bottom left corner and (right panel) bottom right corner
c. Bottom Shelf (B) – all 4 sides
d. Top Shelf (B) and Middle Shelf (B) – left, right, and back. Also predrill holes with regular drill for the dividers (placement of dividers is up to you)
e. Top Panel (F) – Front only

TIP: If you don’t have a pocket-hole jig, and you don’t mind the look of screws on the outside of the project you can pre-drill holes and drive 1” wood screws right through the panels. (This is a great option if you plan to paint it.)

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4) After all the holes are pre-drilled, start to plan out your build. Most of the assembly will be done with the project lying on its back.

5) Place the Back Panel (E) on the bench and grab the Side Panels (A). Apply a thin layer of wood glue to both edges with pocket holes drilled out, and then attach the panels with screws.

6) Next, attach the Front Bottom Face (I) with glue and screws to the body.

7) Once attached, fit the Bottom Shelf (B) into the frame and attach with glue and screws.

8) Measure 4 inches from the top of the box and install the Top Shelf (B) at that height, parallel to the bottom shelf.

9) Attach the Dividers (C) to the Middle Shelf (B) with screws and install the Middle Shelf with dividers inside the box body. Secure with screws.

10) Install the Shelf Lip (D) on the top shelf with screws.

11) Attach the Front Top Face (G) to the Top Panel (F) with glue and screws.

12) Stand up the box, mark the location of the Top Lid hinges and pre-drill your holes. Then attach the top to the box.

TIP: Make sure to use screws that are shorter than ½ an inch, as they will poke through the walls on the inside. If you’re using ½ inch plywood, 3/8-inch screws work best.

13) Repeat this process to attach the Front Middle Face (H) to the Front Bottom Face (I).

14) Last, mark the locations and secure the:
a. Heavy duty side handles – for carrying
b. Front handles – which act as supports for the work surface when the box is open
c. latch – to make sure it never opens up during transport.

15) Go camping!

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