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Building an air tight wooden box for camera storage

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Forum topic by swied posted 1583 days ago 5960 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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swied

74 posts in 2365 days


1583 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: camera box box

I was thinking about building my wife a wooden box to store her camera equipment. We live fairly close to the beach and moisture is an issue. I would like to give the box a water proof seal coat, and attach a valve that would allow the air to be sucked out. Here are some of the options that I have been contemplating:

1) Seal the box with a few coats of epoxy
2) Seal the box with polyester resin
3) Seal the box with several coats of a marine spar varish

Are there any other options?

Also, does the waterproof sealer need to be on the outside of the box, or the inside? I personally don’t like putting thick plasticy finishes on my work, so I would like to make the waterproof seal on the inside. That way I could get away with a an oil/varnish mixture on the outside. I’m not sure if that would hold up though, since the vaccuum pressure would be sucking inward. Would it be more structurally sound to seal the outside of the box, and leaving the inside unfinished (or with a light shellac)?

Has anyone done something like this before? Is low pressure bad for camera equipment? The other alternative is to build a water tight box (similar to a Pelican Case), and put a few of those packets of moisture sucking beads inside instead of sucking the air out.

-- Scott, San Diego


6 replies so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1469 posts in 2729 days


#1 posted 1583 days ago

I’ve been playing with a flooring polyurethane that I actually prefer to spar varnish, you might check to see what your local paint store has on that front.

I’d put the seal on the outside, that way it’s getting drawn into the wood rather than pulled off of it, but this is all guesswork.

What are you planning to use to suck the air out, and what would the valve for that look like? I’ve got a FoodSaver, but I’m not sure it’d generate enough suction to really effectively lower the amount of moisture in the box (and at 14.7PSI at sea level, a 10”x10” box would have 1,470 lbs on a box face if you got all the way to pure vacuum, that could be a scary amount of energy to be storing…

Just a few random thoughts…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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swied

74 posts in 2365 days


#2 posted 1582 days ago

I have a Gast medical pump that I use for vacuum bagging projects, and figured I could use that to create the vacuum. It can effectively pull about 25 to 30 inches of Hg. I guess the problem is maintaining the vacuum pressure, after removing the pump. The more I think about it, the less I like the vacuum solution.

I think I am going to switch to plan B, which is to just build an air tight box similar to a Pelican box. There are a lot of details that I will need to work out beforehand—how to seal it, and what hardware is needed to latch it shut.

I got the idea, when I was at the camera store looking for a present for my wife. Some of those Pelican boxes are over $300, and they are just cheap plastic. I thought… “I could make something like that from wood for much less, and it would look a lot better.” It she needs it to be light weight, then I could make it out of balsa. I have a ton of balsa off-cuts from my latest surfboard project. The stuff is super light at only 8 lbs. per cubic foot. It would probably end up being lighter than a comparable plastic pelican case. I was thinking I would need to fiberglass it to give it strength, though.

-- Scott, San Diego

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Dan Lyke

1469 posts in 2729 days


#3 posted 1582 days ago

I have a Pelican box I got ages and ages ago; don’t underestimate them. They’re heavy, they’re bulky, but they’re pretty close to bomb-proof, and I used to carry a video camera in one on the rear deck of a whitewater kayak or dangling off the handle on a whitewater raft regularly. And they need the pressure relief valves, I had some gear in mine on a mountain trip and had the devil of a time getting it open when we got back down to sea level.

As much as I adopt the “I can build anything I can buy, but better”, Pelican cases are something I just buy.

Admittedly, they don’t look nearly as cool as what you can make, but though the Pelican cases are plastic, it ain’t cheap (either price-wise or quality-wise).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1719 days


#4 posted 1582 days ago

as for camera storage you cant build it better than
the proff. boxes they can take alot off abusement
and is air-water tight I store my stoff in one alucontainer
that match peffect inside one of the yellow plasticcontainer
and I have no trouble at all so far and I lieve on a small island

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swied

74 posts in 2365 days


#5 posted 1582 days ago

That’s good to know about the pressure relieve valve. I guess if I am going to build a better box, then I’m going to have to pull out all the stops. There is a marine fiberglass shop down the street from me that sells a carbon fiber/kevlar weaved fabric. I have a ton of epoxy in my garage from making surfboards. I’m thinking about making a composite sandwich of wood on the outside, carbon/kevlar cloth in the middle, and wood on the inside. That would be more than bomb proof! I am way to hard headed to give in to Pelican.

-- Scott, San Diego

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Dan Lyke

1469 posts in 2729 days


#6 posted 1582 days ago

Awesome! You’ve already got the vacuum pump, although to do carbon fiber up right don’t you also have to set up to cure at about 120°F? Of course once you’ve got a resin impregnated fabric in play, the only reason to include wood is looks, so you could drop back and just use veneer…

If you can get the bubbles out and wet it thoroughly (vacuum pump again), fiberglass is pretty clear. Kevlar’s got a bit of a tint to it, and carbon fiber is of course black, but I think resin cured inside a vacuum bag, with the fabric reinforcement either inside or outside the wood, could make something that’d give a Pelican box a run for its money…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke

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