Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Step In The Right Direction

 During much of the build of the 3rd level tool cabinet the big joke has been that its too high and I can't even reach in there decent. The other joke has been that if my tool box was still sitting on the other wall there would be space for a 4th and 5th level and I'd need one of those librarian ladders that slide back and forth to gain access. Thats all very funny but also true. I needed a step and hinted about it on this blog. I told a few people what I had in mind when I was trying to source parts and as it turns out was lucky enough to score a brand new running board from a body shop dumpster. They are only sold in pairs and only needed to replace one so they tossed the other away. I just got really lucky on that one and many thanks to those that contributed and made it happen.
 Here is the running board. Its the same length as the US General 72" box. Those factory brackets have to go.

 Here it is mocked up:

 I spent a lot of time deciding how to best do this. The way these boxes are built I couldn't just bolt it to the sheet metal bottom. Even the cross supports were questionable. I figured the strongest spot was where the casters were mounted so I decided to measure and sandwich a plate between the wheels and the bottom of the box.

 This is one of the 9" x 21" x 1/4" plates that I sandwiched between the box and casters. Nobody will ever see it except in this pic so I just used the plasma cutter to make the 16 total holes in the two plates. Believe it or not all the bolts fit without having to adjust any of the holes.

 Now that I had a sturdy place to attach a mount it was time to see how close the factory mounting holes in the running board lined up with my new plate. As it turned out I would be able to use a 3" wide by 1/2" thick scrap of steel to make the bracket that runs from my plate directly to the mounting hole under the step.

 I did have to make a bend in the mounting strap to match the angled underside of the step and except for a good smack on one of them with a sledge hammer, they turned out just right on the first try. The two holes in the bracket match the factory bolt holes under the running board.

I was liking the way this project was turning out but there was a lot of bullshit involved. I had to jack up the tool box, mock things up, let it down, measure, jack it up, remove clamped pieces then go back to the welding booth. Lather, rinse, repeat. A lot of monkeying around.

 I had been thinking about this running board step ever since I started thinking about the height of the cabinet. Actually my first vision included a nerf bar and bumper rail that protected the bottom of the side locker too. I can always add locker protection later but I really like the way this step turned out. It doesn't even flex when I bounce on it and has been weight tested with two dudes on it. I'm sure it would tip the box before it broke.

 The side benefit of this step is a footrest for when I'm sitting in front of the laptop that resides in the hutch. A few people mentioned that they thought a permanent step would get in the way. I payed attention in the weeks preceding this build and the only time I ever get my feet and body even close to where the step would be is when I'm locking and unlocking the box. Never during the work day.

 So here it is.

 And another shot showing off those leds. Based on the shadow the step is casting you can imagine how well they actually light up the open drawers.

 Thats a wrap on the tool box running board, or is it? That black plastic step material mimics the four door cab of a chevy and isn't symmetrical. I know the whole ensemble is pieced together and may look a little ratty but the potential is there to replace those plastic inserts with something of my own design. I'll keep you posted.



  1. Thanks. Still one more addition to build for this setup. It might seem like I'm getting carried away with this project but I enjoy doing it.