Custom Road Case

I have always been enamored with cases, boxes, bags, buckets, pockets, sleeves, and anything else that is used for holding, packing, organizing, or transporting stuff. As such, I have always though it would be cool to have a road case for my drums. I have nice cases and bags for my music gear from Enduro, Protection Racket. Sabian, Zildjian, and Coffin Cases. I love all of those things and they work well for me and millions of other musicians around the world.

However I wanted something more professional and “big time” – I wanted a single road case that held everything – stands, drums, sticks, cymbals, drums, accessories – you name it.

Custom road cases are very expensive to purchase so I have been looking for a long time for a used case. Craigslist is awesome and living in the Bay Area means that there are are always plenty of items to choose from – I just had to be patient and wait for the right case. It finally showed up in late July in nearby Fremont, CA. (Actually, a cool road case appeared in Santa Rosa but much like the trailer purchase, the dickbag that posted the ad online didn’t answer a couple basic questions [WTF are the measurements?!?!]) and much like the trailer purchase I ended up with something better and cheaper!

I emailed the guy selling the case and as it turns out he had several different size cases he was selling to clear out his empoyer’s warehouse. I got the measurements from the guy and agreed on a meeting time. I measured my (old) trailer and it was going to be close but the case should fit inside the trailer. Nope. The trailer was quite tall enough – seems the measurements I had didn’t include the height of the casters. So we removed the casters and loaded the behemoth in the trailer along with 2 small suitcase-size cases and 2 medium/large cases on wheels. 5 cases in total. I was going to be prepared to take Pink Floyd on tour! (not really).

First things first: I need to gut this hot mess! This case was designed to hold 6 LCD monitors and accessories for shipping to trade shows. Pretty cool but worthless to me.

Pretty much how it looked when I got it. You can see I already began tearing it apart a bit....

I drilled out the rivets holding the shelving pieces in place and removed most of the foam from the shelves. The idea was to reuse the wood and the foam (save money, save resources, etc…)

When gutted it looked like this (you can also get an idea of the size in this picture up against the back of my Yukon XL):

road case gutted

Road case gutted

So now what? Fuck if I know. I don’t do wood working. I don’t even own a saw. Luckily both of my brothers own saws so that part was handled – I used Dan’s table saw to cut the wood….

…but first I had to figure out how to lay this thing out to hold my drum set. I tried using Google’s Sketchup application and only succeeded in wasting a shit load of time and getting frustrated before I went to my good old standby I know and love, Adobe Illustrator.

Sure I could have used a paper and pen but I didn’t want to. I’m a computer kinda guy when it comes to design.

I slaved over several different concepts and layouts working late into the night several days in a row before settling on a layout:


Now all I needed to do was buy some plywood and then cut it to the right sizes. Off to Lowe’s I go and buy the cheapest 1/2″ plywood they have. I knew that every piece of wood was going to be the same depth so I had Lowe’s rip the plywood into 22″ widths. Of course that 1/2″ thick plywood is actually 23/32″ thick or some shit like that so I end up with thicker shelves than I wanted and there’s me attempting to do math in my head as a table saw is whirring in front of me as to how much I need to adjust my cuts to fit the case correctly.

This saw covers up the sound of Carly Simon on the Muzak quite nicely.

Fuck it – I cut everything to within “close enough for jazz”. And managing plywood onto a table saw without a helper or a saw horse is real bitch, let me tell you. I did mention that I don’t do wood working right? Ya. I had no idea what the hell I was doing.

I did all the wood cutting at Dan’s house since I was cat-sitting for him so at least I was able to entertain his cat, Gracie, with my sweating brow and math-challenged project that a person with at least 2 minutes of wood shop class could do in 5 minutes.

Gracie is probably a better carpenter than I am.

I finish making all of the cuts, load the wood up, get home, unload the wood, pick up a piece and place it in the road case to check how it will look and FUCK ME IN THE GOAT-ASS THIS IS THE WRONG GODDAMNED SIZE!!!! FUCK!

Somehow I got the number 22 in my head and that is what EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF WOOD WAS CUT TO! BUT I NEED THESE CUT TO 20 1/2″!!!


I am mad at myself. Not because I measured wrong – I measured correctly and even wrote down the write number correctly on my plans however in my head I was stuck on 22″.

This is an easy fix- just shave an inch and a half off of every piece of wood. Too bad the fucking table saw is at Dan’s house and I am hungry, sweaty and too damn tired to redo the cuts.

Fast forward –

I get the wood cut correctly and begin the install. Again I have no real idea what I am doing so I just start with the one shelf that spans the entire width if the case. This is a good idea and gets me started on something that looks like it might actually make it to the moon someday! (Just kidding).

I screw  few more brackets and shelves in place and it starting to look like a useful something!

In progress

After getting all of the shelves in place I begin the task of lining the shelves with foam. I use spray adhesive and being the big thinker that I am make sure that I have a fan circulating air in the garage and that I have my dust mask on. So glad I made sure to do those to things.

Remember earlier when I said that I was reusing foam? Well I did and it was an ugly process. I used knives from the kitchen (sorry, Honey-Pop!), pocket knives, scissors, and even a machete (yes, I own a machete) to slice up the foam. The foam cuts fairly easily when making cuts through the entire piece of foam, however to save money and space I wanted to halve the width of most of the foam I was using.

I can't make a wooden box but I can make a mess.

The foam is a polyethylene foam and is quite dense and firm. As such I did not need it to be too think so I cut the pieces into either 1″or 1/2″ widths. Tedious I tell you! Never again will I do that! I will just buy new sheets of foam at the correct width and cut to correct size; that would literally take about 1/18th the amount if time I spent performing surgery on the foam pieces I was reusing. Damn.

It looks worse than it is.

It took me a few days to cut and glue the pieces in correctly and in some places it looks pretty Frankenstein-ish. I had to meld various bits and sizes of foam to get the spaces covered adequately. I mean it doesn’t look ghetto but I know that it it isn’t exactly perfect.

I thought this project would never end.

I am happy to report though that everything fits in the road case more or less as I expected it to based on my layout and that felt good.

Completed Road Case 2

Completed Road Case 2

Completed Road Case

Completed Road Case


Completed Road Case 3

Completed Road Case 3


Table Saw
Corded Drill
Cordless Drill
Tape Measure
Drill Bits of various sizes
Gorilla Tape
Spray Adhesive
Work Light
Box Cutter
Pry Bar
Straight Edge
Ear Plugs
Dust Mask
Knee Pads
Desk Fan
Kitchen Knives
Knife Sharpener
Yukon XL (especially useful if you are a fuck up and need to make multiple trips to hardware store)