Replicating Adam Savage's ILM Toolbox

By Norman Chan

A functional replica of a prop replica maker's toolbox. Yeah, it's a little meta.

I stumbled onto this thread in the Replica Prop Forum over the weekend. Matt Kerr, a Tested reader, studied posts about Adam's ILM-era model making toolboxes to replicate his own as a gift for a friend. The finished project turned out wonderfully, and Matt shared the story of his build with me over email.

"The project started off easy enough--I picked up some sheet aluminum, angle bar, and rivets. I began by cutting the sheet aluminum to the dimensions of a 17" x 9" x 6", open top box. Next, all the angle bars were cut to length and all parts were assembled creating the "shoebox" or lower half of the toolbox.

Once that was finished I made a paper template for the end caps for the lids. The length and height of the cap was easy enough at 4.5" x 6", but the curve was tricky. Once the curve was figured out, I added 1/4" across it to cut and bend tabs to connect to the skin. With the caps complete, I measured the curve, cut, bent and attached the skin to the end caps with rivets.

The lids were the most tedious part of the project. After they were finished, the rest of the project went smoothly with the addition of hinges, handles and butterfly latches. Safety wire was used on each side of the lids to keep them from opening further than 90° from the lower box."

The project, from design to completion, took almost a year, and Matt plans on making more of these boxes and building scissor lifts for them as well. We're also due to shoot a video showcasing Adam's original boxes, which currently live in the Cave. In the meantime, Matt shared some basic schematics for his box build for other makers:

Photos courtesy Matt Kerr