Kitchen Kit/Chuck Box

jhsquij

New member
I just built my first chuck box out of 1/2" MDO and used two coats of Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel as recommended by the paint store. The paint was a disaster. It didn't coat well and after two months of curing, still has a sticky feeling to it. I am reasonably happy with the chuck box as it stays in my pickup under my tonneau cover at all times. It is 26" wide, 18" high, 18" deep. It is heavy at 40lbs empty but this is for grilling on the beach, tailgating, and park and base/camp with my kids (Cub Scout, Girl Scout, Boy Scout). I did treat myself to a 5 pound LP Tank instead of the green 1 pound disposable or lugging my 20 pound. You can still see some sand from our least beach trip.

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This has to be one of the coolest threads here. Sent me down a three day rat hole. Love the work and thought everybody has put in. I'm thinking about chuck boxes for my canopy build, the primary goal being versatility. I'm sort of obsessed with the Aussie-style ute canopies because of their utility and flexibility. I've acquired a ute shell I want to build onto my flatbed deck and I want to make it fully modular so all components can be taken out and moved around depending on the seasons, my work and play needs. On the kitchen box question, here are some of my ideas. I was about to pull the trigger on a river kitchen box by Frontier Play:

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The advantage would be dual use: I could use it on the river or on/off the truck, with or without legs. Waterproof, sturdy, but it has some drawbacks, primarily that "dry style" river boxes in a river setting are typically stored on their side and are then tilted horizontally to be used, so stuff shift around a lot. They are totally spartan and need to be fully modded out to be used in an expo type of rig (see Baltic birch shelves below). They also have limited vertical clearance and are wider than typical chuck box setups. But still interesting.

I decided to think outside of the box and started looking at the agricultural market: dog and horse show equipment. They are sometimes called "grooming" - or for horses, "tack" - boxes. This is where show folks keep their grooming tools, trimmers hair sprays etc. Some interesting things out there, but one of my favorites is this one. Lots of potential in this one I think:

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This one is cool too:

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I'm also very cheap and lazy man so I even explored jerry-rigging something out of an already built cabinet. It just so happens that kids school furniture is often made with baltic birch ply. So I though of buying one of these (note the dado construction, I cannot do things like this), slapping some drop doors/cables out of baltic birch ply or maybe even cutting board material and calling it a day:

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You could also buy some of these shelves (they come in all shapes and sizes) and build it into a toolbox or river box without too much trouble.

But I'm pretty sure I want metal, preferably aluminum, mostly for weatherproof reasons and I also camp in bear country, so that's a major consideration. On that note: I've seen more bear and bear sign in Utah's Canyon country than in the Wind River mountains in the last 30 years (there are also many more bears in canyon country than people realize). So I started thinking of this: who beats the heck out of their stuff, needs it to be tough, water resistant and bear resistant? HORSE AND MULE OUTFITTERS. I was in the Winds in August and ran into a pack train that was armed with the most amazing aluminum pannier boxes, so I had to ask them what was up. They said an outfitter shop called Robertson Enterprises was the place. These seem expensive on the surface, but come in a set of two with table leaves to make a full kitchen setup (back to back or side to side), are made of thick gauge aluminum and are IGBC certified grizzly bear resistant for use in national forest and parks that require such things! I'm strongly considering pulling the trigger on this this winter:

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Getta load of their fully outfitted "Mobile Kitchen" setup complete with everything including Partner stove:

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Also in my search, I found out Koffler Boats has some really cool looking camp Kitchen options built for the boating industry: https://kofflerboats.com/camping-equipment/camp-kitchens/

Some ideas to chew on for sure..
 

eatSleepWoof

Explorer
I decided to think outside of the box and started looking at the agricultural market: dog and horse show equipment. They are sometimes called "grooming" - or for horses, "tack" - boxes. This is where show folks keep their grooming tools, trimmers hair sprays etc. Some interesting things out there, but one of my favorites is this one. Lots of potential in this one I think:

View attachment 541005
 

eatSleepWoof

Explorer
Great work! Glad to see somebody has tried it and it's still holding up. I'm still considering the D Flite 1000 model. A little bigger. Do you think that if you removed the insert on the top lid you could fit a stove in there?
So long as it's not a very thick stove. I think there's only an inch or two of thickness to be gained there with the removal of the insert.
 

whitenoise

Adventurer
My kitchen kit has evolved arguably the most out of all of my kit, including even the vehicle itself. My first setup was a pair of Really Useful Boxes, one each for pantry and kitchen along with a $20 butane stove and a cheap tool roll for all my baller Asian store utensils. Then I replaced the pantry box with an attic rack and a couple of overhead drawers in my LX470. Upon finding a Beavertree kitchen for sale locally, I immediately switched and found the level of organization I was looking for in a nice portable solution. Once I added drawers I could store a lot more food in a very organized way for longer trips, while still using the Beavertree for a chuck box.

Because I sleep inside the vehicle it is very important to clear out the cargo area and store everything on the front seats and footwells. The hard-case kitchen box, although very convenient, was the only thing that didn't fit on the front seats, so it had to be outside or on the roof which doesn't work in all situations. There are other reasons why I switched away from hard-cases to a soft bag:

1) Weight. The Beavertree fully loaded weighs 50lbs which isn't bad but I could do better.
2) Shape. Hard-cases are less flexible to fit into odd spaces like a footwell.
3) Noise and wear on contents. This one is obvious.
4) Uses other than camping where the kitchen has to be carried by hand. Picnics, sporting events etc.

I searched long and hard for a suitable bag, looking to adapt various ammo cases, shooting range duffel bags, fishing bags, tactical cases, etc. but nothing was a perfect fit. Ultimately I had to have this one though it wasn't (isn't) sold in the US: https://www.campcover.co.za/product/kitchen-caddy-ripstop/ After exchanging several emails with Camp Cover, they steered me toward OK4WD, who very graciously agreed to include one in their following shipment from South Africa. It took around 2 months, but I think it was totally worth it.

Old vs new footprint:
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Inventory, all up weight is about 18lbs, less than what the Beavertree weighed empty:
MSR Windburner 1.8L with 230g canister
MSR Whisperlite Universal with 230g canister
Stainless plates, bowls, cups, spoons & forks - 4 each.
Turner, ladle, spatula, tongs & 2 stainless serving spoons
Egg beater, can opener, bottle opener/corkscrew, shears & Peeler/Grater
Pot holders
Stainless nesting pots, 2 & 3L
Stainless frying pan and lid
Snow Peak small cutting board & knife set
2 Dish Towels
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All closures drop down for good access:
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Side pockets are quite generous to hold a lot of stuff:
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Interior is PVC lined and has dividers to organize and prevent rattling:
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Pantry drawer, enough space to store dry foods for a month long trip for 2:
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Poor pic of how it all fits together:
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Farfrumwork

Member
We are a family of 4 (my wife and I and two kids, currently 17 & 9). We used a couple big totes for a LONG time, with the same basic gripes that have been conveyed here - it becomes a jumbled mess quickly and you can't find stuff... which tote had what, and where is the COFFEE!?

We would set our stove up on a aluminum slat table and prepped meals there as well. Well, the table takes time to assemble, and when cooking and prepping on the table, it becomes small pretty quick. Not to mention that those tables aren't the most stable platform to care for my French toast or Char fillets!

I wanted to improve our cooking setup for many years and researched lots of options. We also live and camp mostly in the Rocky Mountains here in Colorado, and in Wyoming. Being as we are in critter territory, we cleanup camp every night (and when we leave camp to bike, hike, whatever) so the setup and teardown is something to consider. In that teardown I need to be able to carry the gear back to the van without killing myself, so weight is a consideration (and I'm not going to get younger, despite my desires). I love home built wooden chuck boxes, but the weight pushed those off the possibilities.

This summer Kanz had a sale, which coincided with bonus time at work. Voila - I had a Kanz field kitchen!

We have only used it a few times so far, but it has been really cool. I need to weigh it loaded, but I'm guessing its ~50lbs. And it looks awesome.

I also got a jet boil for heating water - breakfast is usually granola and coffee, so we don't always set up the stove (or want to). Breakfast and noodle lunches are easy now with a quick setup of the jet boil. Its all coming together! A few decades of van camping later :LOL:Kanz back side.jpgKanz closed.jpgKanz camping.jpg
 

brian94ht

Chateau spotter
Been following this thread since it started. Thought I would make my contribution.
For the past 25ish years I have carried my kitchen kit in many types of containers.
Being a carpenter I always knew I could build a chuck box but felt that wood wasn't the best material for a strong, lightweight box without bulkiness. That is until I started using epoxy.
Unfortunately I lost my build pics.
View attachment 455125
I used 5mm Baltic birch plywood and dadoed/or rabbeted all of the joints.
Before assembly I coated the panels that would be hard to get to afterwards.
Then I started coating the joints with the epoxy and assembling the panels.
The whole box was assembled in one shot using a few micro pin nails from a pneumatic nailer to hold things together while the epoxy set.
I then used 4" wide 4oz fiberglass tape, https://amzn.to/2MzW8U4 on the corners, wet it out and coated the whole exterior in epoxy.
After the lid was cut off I put a double layer of material so the lid seam has an overlap.
Then I added a near full length stainless piano hinge for the lid, and the front panel, https://amzn.to/2JXGqQZ
I used some Southco slam latches for the front door, https://amzn.to/2JM3TbB
I used 1/8" steel cable and ring terminals for the lid and door "catches"
Not shown, I ordered these recessed handles, https://amzn.to/2MxUPVu, they are yet to be installed.
I have considered (and even ordered) some sort of hardware for the lid closure but haven't really seen anything I want yet. Where mine stows, on my under bed slider I don't feel it really needs a lid catch.
The epoxy I used was this, https://amzn.to/2tfAcVf, I only used about 1/4 gallon
I had intentions of doing a final coat of either, Monstaliner or, Raptor liner but thought the natural finish looked cool and showed off the construction details better. The surface isn't perfect because of the fiberglass tape edges and a textured paint would be the way to go to help hide that. Additionally the epoxy I used isn't UV resistant so it will fade or get chalky eventually.
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All opened up, on the right lower is double containers. We usually throw/do our dirty dishes in the lower one. The top one has cups, mugs, sauce pan, plates, a fry pan and other misc.
The left lower has the dutch oven, tongs, hatchet, coffee mug.
The upper right is silverware, upper left is seasonings, tin foil, ziplocs, soap, scrubby pads, IR thermometer (essential for dutch oven cooking IMO)
The right side cubbies are shallow allowing a slot for my griddle behind the stove. View attachment 455128
This box fully loaded is 65lbs and measures 15 1/2" wide x 16 1/2" tall x 27 1/2" long
Hope you enjoy checking it out and that it inspires others.
Replying to my own post here as I decided to build another one of these 5mm birch/fiberglass tape/epoxy chuck boxes.
I did make some design changes, some for better, some for the worse.
One major change was the lid/front 1/3rd is one piece. This makes it easier to get to the front controls on the stove. It also would have made it easier to get the grill out of the back, you can slide the stove forward rather than have to lift it out for access.
However, I didn't put the grill slot in this one with the thinking that I was going to simplify construction, and not be so specific to my "wants". This one actually took longer and was more difficult to put together. I think the grill slot adds another element of "self squaring" that really helps with the build up and overall strength.
I also got the rear hinge bevels dialed in so the lid is self supporting when its up, although a slight adjustment would have it sitting back further and not be susceptible to closing in wind.
Maybe a locking upright piece of hardware is in order?
I did make the interior slightly wider so my stove and a fuel can aren't so tight allowing space for hardware or even the steel cables I have used. I added a magnetic catch for the top.
I used scrap laminate material on the inside of the drop down shelf.
I added large handles on the sides rather than the "climber" recesses on the sides of the old one. The bigger handles are nice for hanging things and carrying the box with gloves on.
I used Raptor liner tinted to the color of my lower rockers for the full exterior. It looks pretty good with the minimal sanding and fairing I did. A huge benefit to textured paints is less prep work. I hate sanding!
I made some rather chunky HDPE feet for this one and they interlock to my vans drawer system and are held down with two M6x1.0 screws.
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brian94ht

Chateau spotter
Very nice setup Brian.
What kind of stove is that?
Thanks,
The stove is a Century Ultima 4586
I found it at a Big5 sporting goods just before a fly in/rent a campervan trip to Hawaii. Its small enough to fit in a cooler I have so it has been on many fly-in trips over the past 5 years.
The really sweet feature not seen on many camp stoves is the broiler feature. Open face sandwiches, toast, or just keeping something warm while you wait for other food to finish is nice. It also allows for a very low simmer on the "third" burner.
Downsides are its difficult to clean. It jambs up a bit which has damaged the lid but as a cooking device it has never failed me. I should really look for another rather than try to clean this one.
Looks like they have become difficult to obtain....421CD3CA-D746-45E7-A208-24F81651A62C.jpeg
 
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WVI

Adventurer
Thanks.
The cleaning was something i was wondering about. I do like the set up it has.
I'm guessing it does good fuel consumption wise? The burners look like they put out good heat.
 
ive made a few chuck boxes and pantry boxes from old ammo boxes. I was wondering if there would be any interest in these or other custom made lightweight boxes? Im considering starting w a 1650 pelican case and making them custom ordered to your gear. Any takers? Cases would be used and show signs of wear unless you wanted to pinch for new ones. The goal is no holes drilled through the case so it’s still water tight. Just throwing it out there.
Here’s the 80mm ammo boxes I’ve made. i custom made another for a buddy to his specs but don’t have pics off hand. The two of them are exact same size as a yeti 45. And of course you need booze. So I’m working on a liquor cabinet as well. I don’t want hear any rattles so I’m working on some super simple way to isolate the bottles. Great part is it holds a lot!! And tall bottles too! The pantry box holds 2 bottles of wine in the fleece lined divider.
The 80 mm boxes are hard to find these days.
 

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