For my Eagle Scout Project, I wanted to build “Coaches’ Boxes” for the Prospect High School volleyball team. These boxes are used to perform drills where the volleyball needs to be hit at a downward angle over the net. Adult coaches no longer have to constantly jump up and down during practice. After speaking with my project beneficiary, we decided on the following requirements for the Coaches Boxes:
- safely support a 500lb load—in case multiple teenagers started jumping on it
- easy to setup and put away
- multiple boxes should nest into each other to minimize required storage space
- boxes should never scratch or dent the gym floor during transport or use
I have lots of experience with Blender (open-source 3D software), so I decided to try using it as a CAD program. Looking back, Blender is really designed for 3D artists, and using it as a CAD program wasn’t a great idea.
While Blender made for a tedious CAD program, it’s great for making beautiful 3D renderings. Here is one of the “realistic” renderings I made to convey my plans to my project beneficiary. The plan pictured is actually my 3rd revision. I didn’t have much woodworking experience before this project, so my first CAD model used lots of dove-tails—impossible to machine with the tools I had access to. My second iteration used metal brackets and bolts instead of the 2x2 frame featured here. I was surprised to learn about the wonders of construction glue from my scoutmaster. He explained to me how creating an all-wood frame could be just as strong, if not stronger than metal brackets.
After modeling my entire project with Blender, I optimized my cut sheets, finalized my BOM, and acquired all my materials as donations from local hardware stores. The next stage of my project was to recruit helpers and begin construction. I really enjoy teaching kids, that’s why I started a F.I.R.S.T. Lego robotics team. But when I was their age (5th grade), I felt like legos were “just a toy,” and I really wanted to build something “real.” My Eagle Scout project was an excellent opportunity, so I invited them to come help out. (Under parental supervision of course!) I taught my Lego robotics students how to use power tools as they helped me construct my project. I was surprised to see just how much they enjoyed woodworking.
My favorite part of this entire project was building, and teaching others to build. It was really fun to watch my project come together and turn out just like the CAD model. However, one of the trickiest parts was definitely the imperial system. In all my plans, I used feet and inches. This turned out quite confusing for my helpers and I. (E.g. 3.5’ is 3’ 6” and 3’ 10” is not 3.10’) We had to constantly double and triple check every marking we made. Looking back, I wish I used metric.
At last, I’d completed my project. With non-marking rubber caster wheels and a carpeted footprint, there was no chance of damaging the volleyball court’s flooring. The handles and casters also made them quite portable. My favorite feature is the castor wheel runway on the inside of the larger box. It makes nested storage far easier. Note: The inside of the smaller box looks all splotchy because I had some wood stain left over after the project. The outside of the boxes is way nicer, with an even stain and several layers of polyurethane varnish.
Here is my project beneficiary using one of my Coaches Boxes to train her athletes.