How to build a flight case

Written by david thyberg
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Many people use flight cases to transport delicate musical gear. Gigs require travel, and you want to make sure to protect expensive musical instruments that can be damaged when you go from one gig to the next. You can buy flight cases, but they can be pretty expensive. Many times it can be cheaper to construct your own basic flight cases. You will need to be handy with wood and other basic tools, so some novices may want to avoid this type of project. It is a bit difficult, and the construction of the box itself is not covered in detail here. Follow these instructions to make your own customised flight cases.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Single piece of sturdy plywood
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer and thin nails (3/4-inch nails)
  • Mitre saw
  • tape measure
  • Locking extrusions (male and female parts that connect the case and the lid)
  • Single angle extrusions (30mm each to be used as edge liners)
  • Ball corners (get the stackable ones if you can)
  • 4 hinges
  • Handles (standard or recessed)
  • Cabinet braces
  • Pop rivet wrench and 4mm grooved pop rivets
  • High density foam
  • Scissors

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Make your box out of plywood. You will need to measure the instrument or equipment that you intend to transport in the box in order to get an idea of how big it should be. Then, mark the plywood to cut out the pieces for your flight box. Fit the pieces together and secure them with the glue and nails. It should be a closed box. Make sure the box is perfectly lined up so that everything will fit properly.

  2. 2

    Cut off the lid of the box after it is sturdily put together. Mark its orientation as you do this. If you have purchased recessed hinges, handles or locks, then make sure to cut out the outlines for each of these as well. You will save yourself some trouble if you pre-cut the holes for the locks and hinges. In most cases it is easier to use standard locks and hinges rather than recessed. No cutting will be necessary.

  3. 3

    If your plywood is laminated, then you can leave it alone. If not, then you should paint the box with a sturdy polyurethane paint that will resist scratches.

  4. 4

    Install the locking extrusions. Set them in position where you want the lid to close and secure them with the pop rivets. You should cut them in 45-degree angles with a mitre saw. Fit the locks, hinges and handles into position on the lid and the box. You have already cut the holes where you want the pieces to go if they are recessed, so now all you have to do is insert them into position and fasten them in place. Use the pop rivet wrench to secure the handles and hinges. Then you will want to line the edges of the box and lid with the single angle extrusions. Drive two pop rivets into the liner and the box every 7 inches around the perimeter to secure it.

  5. 5

    Put on the cabinet braces and secure them with the pop rivets and your wrench. You want to cover the edges so that you do not cut yourself on the rough edges. Cover up the corners with the ball corners to prevent injury as well. Test your finished flight case to see if is properly assembled. Put some weight in it and see if it holds up. Look for any rough edges and fix them up.

  6. 6

    Cut the high-density foam to the size of each wall of the flight case. You will want to completely cover the inside of the box with this foam to provide cushioning for your musical gear. Secure the foam by gluing it in place. Wait an hour for the glue to dry. Make sure your musical equipment fits snugly inside the case with padding, and you are all set.

Tips and warnings

  • Laminated plywood is more durable and will save you time because you will not have to paint the materials later. However, it is more expensive.
  • Be careful when working with your mitre saw. Protect your eyes from wood chips, and avoid cutting too close to your hands.

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