Blog posts of '2014' 'August'

The Advantages of a Corrugated Plastic Chuck Box

The Camping Kitchen Box is a unique product as it is the only chuck box that is made of corrugated plastic. Corrugated plastic offers three advantages over traditional plywood chuck box construction. These advantages are light weight, noise reduction and durability.

Light Weight

Advantage number one is weight. A wood chuck box made of 1/2 inch plywood that is a similar size to our chuck box would weigh 35 pounds empty, by comparison, the Camping Kitchen Box is svelte at 12 pounds. Sure 35 pounds sounds manageable, but as you start adding gear that is when you will notice the extra 20 plus pounds. A typical camp stove can weigh from 10 to 15 pounds and a complement of pots, utensils and dinnerware can quickly add up to another 15 pounds. So assuming 30 pounds of gear, which would you rather carry, a 42 pound box or a 65 pound one?

Noise Reduction

Another area where corrugated plastic really shines compared to wood for chuck box construction is noise reduction. The nature of corrugated plastic, with two layers of plastic separated by cells of air, acts to deaden the noise of your stove, pots and pans and metal utensils rattling around on the inside of the chuck box. This is  the opposite of a wooden box, which being denser, transmits sound much better. You will really appreciate the quietness when long car ride down a bumpy road that would create a camp kitchen gear cacophony in a wood chuck box is kept under control by the camping kitchen box.


Both our chuck box or a wooden chuck box should last a long time if treated with the proper respect that you would treat any piece of camping equipment. Both have their pros and cons. For example, if not properly finished, a wooden chuck box will not hold up long when exposed to water. The Camping Kitchen Box, being made of plastic is impervious to water damage.
Right now we don't have a video of the camping kitchen box being thrown off the roof of a building, or being hit with a hammer, but when we do it will look sort of like this which is a video of the oru kayak (also built from corrugated plastic)  being hit with a hammer and being tossed off a roof. Enjoy!.

Reconditioning a Cast Iron Pan

Last weekend I picked up a little project at a garage sale... a cast iron pan that needed some love.

 Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Starting Bottom

Here is a closeup.. That is not painted over rust, it is some very solid grease.

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Starting Closeup

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Starting Top

I have never reconditioning cast iron before, but the pan was cheap and idle hands are the Devil's plaything, so...

Step one in reconditioning cast iron is removing the old accumulated crud. Cast iron is suppose to have a  coating of baked on oil that provides protection and the non stick like cooking surface, but this but this pan has acquired too much of a good thing.  After some research on the internet there seems to be several ways to get rid of the old coating... One method is to burn it off using your oven's self cleaning cycle. There seems to be some debate if this is good for the pan, and also there is some chance that it could ruin the oven, so this was not really an option. :) 

Option 2 is using spray on oven cleaner (such as Easy Off). Since I already had a can on hand that is what I went with. I coated the pan with the oven cleaner and wrapped it in a plastic bag and let it sit it the garage. They (the internet) says for really grimy cast iron you might have to wait a week, but since this is my first pan I was not that patient. I checked on it every day, wiping off the oven cleaner and the loosened gunk and then reapplying some more oven cleaner and sticking it back in the bag. After four or five days  this is what it looked like...

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Progress Bottom

Cast Iron Pan Reconditioning  Progress

I started to realize that oven cleaner alone may never clean this pan, so I broke out the power drill with a wire brush attachment and went at it.. Below is what the pan looked like after the power tool therapy...

Cast Iron Pan Reconditioning After Wirebrush

If I had to do it again I would start with the wire brush and then do the oven cleaner.  Even after the wire brush, I thought it needed one more day in the plastic bag with the oven cleaner.

After this final day in the bag with the oven cleaner the pan was soaked for 30 minutes in a bath of hot water and vinegar (to neutralize the  lye in the oven cleaner). I then gave it a  final scrubbing with some steel wool to remove any surfaces rust and a final wash with soap and water. This is what the pan looked liked...

 Cast Iron Pan Cleaning After the Final Cleaning Bottom

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning After the Final Cleaning Top

After drying it off, I coated it with some cooking oil and stuck it in the over at 350 degrees for an hour. Here is the result the semi final result.

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Finished Bottom

Cast Iron Pan Cleaning Finished Top

You are really suppose to do this cooking oil and heat cycle 3 times, but I decided to try cooking some fried eggs after the first time ...and they stuck to the bottom of the pan :(. Obviously I still have to keep going but I  will be doing it on the BBQ outside, because the inside of my house ended up with a bit of a smog when I did it in the oven.

So the pan is not ready for the chuck box yet, but it may never ... at over four pounds it will really have to prove itself before it replaces  This 11 Ounce, non stick, aluminum 10 inch Fry Pan :)

New Drawers for the Camping Kitchen Box

I am always tinkering with the design and construction of the Camping Kitchen Box Chuck Box, and yesterday I did a pretty major revision on the drawers. Below is the end results front and back.

Chuck Box Drawes Front and Nack

Beautiful aren't they? OK beautiful for drawers made out of blue corrugated plastic... But how are they different from the old drawers? Below is a comparison shot... New on the left and old on the right. You may notice the main reason I did this, to eliminate the exposed 'End Grain' edges. With the new drawer all the edges are nice and smooth as a plastic baby doll's bottom.

Camping Kitchen Box Drawers Old Vs. New

How come I didn't do this before? Previously I was using 6 mm plastic corrugated (the same as I use for the rest of the box), now I am using 4 mm for the drawers. It is possible to cut, bend and shape the 4 mm in ways that just cannot be done well with the 6 mm plastic. Yes the drawer is not as overbuild as is was before, but it is still more then strong enough to do it's job.

New Drawers in Chuck Box

And a final shot of the drawers in place in the box. I Might  play with the pull strap length a little, but overall I am very pleased with myself.