If you’re looking for a fun project that you can easily complete in an afternoon, why not a flight box? In this how-to/review, Terry Bolin shares his experience building a Sig Mini-Boss Flight Box.
About every six or seven years for the last 44 years, I want a new flight box. Not necessarily a bigger box that is heavier, just something newer. So, Sig is what I chose this time.
No need to rehash the instruction manual, you have those when you buy your Sig kit. You can buy a pre-built box today but this kit is one you can take pride in, use for years and customize to your liking and finish several different ways. This flight box is another example of Sig’s great quality, fantastic wood and the laser cutting is top notch. Everything fits so well together that you can actually assemble to test fit with no glue or tape. Once you get started you will soon realize that the retail price direct from Sig is well worth the dollars. The parts count is pretty amazing when you first open the box: 54 pieces plus a bag of hardware. It helped me a lot to separate the parts groups for each component and this speeds up the process as you go.
Read the instructions and then take a minute to mark each part with tape and pen after sanding the wood with your fine sand paper. I used a detail sander and it went very fast but use care at the edges not to remove too much wood. Look for three dividers per drawer group; this gives you options as to how you want your individual drawer laid out. They can be either front to rear or side to side sectioned off. Each drawer is different heights so this helps you separate group parts. Use care when removing the drawer face from front box panel. I used a hobby knife to cut the tabs and avoid splitting the parts.
Use medium CA and tape for final assembling the box, after a little preparation , it took only an afternoon to assemble the kit. I used clamps on two steps, but you can put the whole box together with tape first to better understand the final assembly before ever using glue and also to check Fuel can options. If you leave the divider out on the fuel can area, a metal gallon fuel can will fit right in, I chose to use the kit as it came with the plastic bottle supplied. This method also gives you a nice spot for extra props next to the fuel bottle. Depending on how you install the end plate, you can have the prop cubby closer to front or rear of fuel compartment.
On the drawer for my box, I left out all the dividers to make for more storage of tools and parts. The dividers are not needed for strength, purely preference. (keep these unused plywood parts to repair planes along with the square cut out from the power panel opening).
When prepping the parts before gluing, give the 3/8-inch bass wood drawer glides a little extra sanding since they are a little thick and easier to sand now rather than after the box is assembled. They are close to being too thick on the face of the box. When gluing starts make sure and grab the tiny bass wood spacers after marking their locations on the right vertical handle support. They keep the drawers headed straight when closing. Mine were a 1/8 inch too long, so trim them to fit.
When you begin gluing parts for keeps, start with a square to keep things straight. Make sure and pull each part all the way into the notches for a good fit and strong joint. This is especially true of the drawers when you build them since they have a fixed opening that they fit into. Use plenty of white or green masking tape to pull each new part in tight until the CA medium glue dries.
This box builds pretty fast after you get started. I did use wood working clamps on the power panel box since it will have the most use moving around, I want it strong as can be.
When all components are assembled, use fine sandpaper to take off the sharp edges and smooth the finish again. Sand the bottoms and the Top edges of the drawers to get them to operate smoothly. I rounded the top edges of each drawer to make less contact surface of the drawer as it opened and closes. Leave the face of the drawers flat for a better look. I chose to install the wood knobs mow before applying clear coat to the box. This is just a little hard to do and you DON’T want to hold the knob with pliers. Hold the wooden knob in a tack cloth and tighten the Screw into the pre-drilled hole a few times to loosen up the fit before installing it on the drawer. By doing this, it allows you to attach the knob a lot easier on each drawer by holding the screw and turning the knob onto the face of each drawer.
The wood supplied is so nice that I hated to paint this box so I applied one medium coat of polyurethane after wiping wood down with a tack cloth. After drying for 12 hours you can sand the first coat and spend some time here for your best look. Tack cloth the surface again and apply your second coat very thin. Taking extra time and brush the clear coat on using a light to reflect the surface so you can check for even coating and runs. This may be your last coat if it suites your taste. You could also spray on the finish if you like cleaning spray guys up after each use. Good luck and have fun with this.