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Building and Installing the Lock Box

Written by Jared on July 19, 2011

After upgrading Blue's electrics, we decided to turn our attention to storage. More specifically, how the hell we were going to fit 15 months worth of stuff in the back of a third generation Toyota 4Runner.

Wooden lock box.Security is also a big concern. Keeping our laptops and important paperwork out of sight and making it as difficult as possible for someone to walk off with them is a top priority. We are working on the road, if we lose a laptop it will cost a lot more than just replacement hardware.

Enter: the lock box. A box with a lock that will safely hold three laptops, a couple backup hard drives and a short stack of papers. After a few hours of online research we decided that such a product did not exist. Commercial safes and lock boxes were either the wrong size, too heavy or incredibly expensive. The only choice we had left was to make one ourselves.


The Build

We chose to make the box out of wood. Probably not the most secure, but still strong enough to deter smash and grab robberies. It also helped that I have all of the necessary tools and most of the materials. Google Sketchup drawing of lock box.

What I used:

As with every woodworking project, I started with a Google Sketchup drawing so I can easily adjust the design and print out dimensions once it's time to start making sawdust.

Clamping the side panels and top

The first step was to build the side panels and the extra-thick lid. I used a biscuit jointer, wood glue, and a few thousand clamps to accomplish this. After the panels dried overnight they were ready to be cut to final dimensions, routed and assembled.

Lockbox with lid open

I assembled the sides and bottom using 2" wood screws and glue. Several large holes were drilled into the lid and the front side to hold the deadbolt lock. Lastly, using a chisel I banged out the mortises for the four lid hinges and with some help from Kobus managed to get it lined up (mostly) and attached. A little bit of sanding, and it was ready for carpet and foam.

Lockbox with carpet and foam installed.

Jessica used spray adhesive and a gajillion staples to carpet the outside of the box. She cut the foam down to size and after a quick test fit decided all was well.

Installing The Box

We decided long ago to bring a fridge on this trip, and after hours of painstaking research came to the conclusion that there's no way it would fit unless we took out one of the back seats. Luckily this also gave us room to mount the lock box within reach of the person sitting in the other back seat.

Lockbox mounting in 4Runner.

Kobus and I spent the better part of a day fabricating and fitting the lock box mounts. We devised a wooden bracket that would attach to the rear seat mounting points, through the fridge platform. This gave us a level area for the box to sit on, and a way to securely attach it to the vehicle.

Inside the lockbox showing the bolts holding it to the mounting bracket.

After dropping the lock box onto bolts and tightening the ever-loving crap out of them, we were pretty much done. I was confident at this point that a thief would need a chainsaw to get at our precious laptops.

Lock box mounted next to fridge.

And there it is! As a teaser for next time...our newly installed fridge.

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