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Build a Chuck Box for Camp Cooking

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

Make camp cooking easier and more convenient with this portable kitchen box.



  • Your cooking gear
  • Tape measure
  • 9/16″ plywood (You’ll need one standard sheet for the small-size box shown.)
  • Four 1″ x 3″ oak planks for the legs (The average height for the swing-down work surface should be 30″ to 34″.)
  • Scrap wood for drawer rails
  • Eight carriage bolts and wing nuts
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill and bits
  • Screwdriver
  • Fine-toothed saw
  • Chain and six eye screws
  • Paint
  • Exterior wood screws
  • Trunk handles
  • Two eye screws and swing hooks
  • Piano hinge
  • Sturdy plastic wash tubs for drawers


Step 1: Gather all the cooking and cleaning gear you want to store in your chuck box. The amount of gear you have will determine the size of your chuck box and how the inside is designed. The box shown here is just one example of how your box could look. Some boxes have only one or two drawers to make room for larger items such as pots and pans. It’s up to you.

Once you have decided on the size and shape of your box, cut out all the plywood pieces. Sand, prime and paint all plywood surfaces and edges before assembling. This is much easier than painting the box afterward. Add slide rails for drawers if needed.

Step 2: Screw and glue the box together. Remember to predrill all screw holes and countersink the heads for a neat finish. After your box is assembled, lightly sand it and brush on a second coat of paint.

Step 3: Lay the painted door in position and carefully screw on the piano hinge.


Step 4: Attach the chain.

Step 5: Close the door and determine the position of the eye screws and swing hooks before screwing them in place.

Step 5: Attach the trunk handles. (Use nuts and bolts for this so the handles are extra strong. Some larger boxes many need two handles per side.)

Step 6: Fill your chuck box with your cooking gear and you’re ready for your next campout.


Adding legs can get your chuck box off the ground and easily accessible. If you don’t have a tailgate or picnic table to set your chuck box on, this is definitely the way to go. The legs store flat and can be attached with no tools needed using wing nuts and carriage bolts.

The legs can be made from 2″ x 4″ fir or 1″ x 3″ oak. The oak is more expensive but will be stronger and last longer. Make sure the legs are angled outward enough so the box is sturdy when the front is open and in use.


Check out these photos of chuck boxes sent to us by Boys’ Life readers. If you have a photos of a BL Workshop project, please use the form below to send them to us.

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16 Comments on Build a Chuck Box for Camp Cooking

  1. it looks cool, heavy and convenient

  2. Wise one with feathers in hat // June 26, 2019 at 4:15 pm // Reply

    We built 4 of them for our troop in Waterloo, Iowa. The problem is they were so heavy it took 2 strong adults to carry them.
    Great idea though and all patrol stuff stays in same pace, easy to inventory and clean. TOO HEAVY for Scouts though!

  3. Summer Fun // April 22, 2018 at 7:50 pm // Reply

    These are most definitely heavy.

  4. Would have been helpful if you had supplied actual measurements. I’m not too handy at guesswork.

    • There’s lots of old plans from previous boy’s life issues. I built mine off their old “patrol box” pattern.

  5. We redesigned our chuck boxes several years ago based on what is really needed. The result was a lighter box to carry. Our goal was to have patrol equipment that 2 – 11 year old boys could easily carry. It has made getting to the camp site much easier. Also, we painted the inside white to help make everything easier to see.

  6. Anonymous // June 4, 2017 at 4:56 pm // Reply

    Leave it at home. Backpacking is the way to go.

  7. How much does the Chuck Box weigh?

    • Rocket Raccoon // June 10, 2017 at 4:28 am // Reply

      It depends,

      Depending on how much stuff and what stuff you put in there is what makes the difference. An empty chuck box can weigh anywhere from 10-25 lbs.

    • That’s great, and we don’t car camp during the year, but for a long-term camp (summer/winter resident) it’s nice to keep it all in one place.

  8. Buffalo Doug // April 23, 2016 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    The box as shown can not be built! You cannot screw or nail into the edge of plywood without the risk of splitting the plys. Instead, attach 1/2 inch by 1/2 solid wood such as pine or popular into each corner and screw (or nail) both pieces of plywood to that.
    I followed these plans and it make a nice chuck box; just reinforce those corners.

  9. if you add another fold down shelf/piano hinge on the back side of your box, you can double your work surface. Just drill two holes in the back wall of your box and thread the chain through the hole and dead end them with a bolt and nut . Just pull the this work surface up first for storage!

  10. amazing

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