You are on page 1of 14

What is a flight case?

A flight case is a heavy, metal-reinforced case to transport delicate
equipment, most often custom-made of special-purpose flight case

Typical parts used to build flight cases include: aluminium extrusions,
steel ball corners, recessed butterfly latches and handles, all fixed with
rivets. So flight cases are actually really solid cases that can stand a
bump or two.

They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, for the most eclectic range
of purposes. They can come with or without wheels and have a
detachable or flip-open lid. The inside is often lined with foam so as to
optimally protect the equipment transported in it.

Things we can transport in flight cases include: musical instruments, DJ
equipment, computers, photography and video equipment, weapons,
DIY equipment, catering materials, etc.

A popular case variant specifically for the music and computer industry
is the so-called 19-inch rack case. Lots of music and computer industry
equipment is namely of the exact same internationally standard width
of 19 inches (= 48.26 cm) and can be attached to 19-inch rack strips,
fixed in a rack case. The web shop has all you
need to build such rack cases.

Read our step-by-step flight case assembly tutorial to see how you can
build your own flight case.

Saw the excess wood off. you have to do some really bad damage to the laminate for it not to be covered up later by the case angles or lid locations. because the blade on the saw also has its own thickness. especially for these projects. It’s true. the more exact your sawing is.your flight case . your ball corners will fit better. .g. once you’ve put all the parts on your flight case. . It’s best to use your free hand to keep hold of the panel.Normally you won’t be sawing exactly on the pencilled line. if necessary with the steel square and the guide. Use a steel square for this. make sure the angle is straight.Tips for sawing wood Sawing panels for flight cases is often said to be one of the most tricky or difficult things to do. check with your steel square if the panel you’re sawing from has straight angles. etcetera.Don’t make the angle between the saw and the panel too big. it’s best to make them that way first. and you have a good hand saw for wood. None of the lines will be visible. because you can see it and you’ll saw straighter because of that. Below are a few tips. it’s also a way of taking the thickness of your blade into account. Use your steel square and a long guide (I mean a long straight piece of wood or aluminium) to draw your straight angle from the long side of the panel. certainly not if it happens to be black or grey. If the corners are not a perfect 90°. . Though this way will increase the chance of small pieces of laminate chipping off your sawing line. Lots of people namely assume the big standard-sized panel they’ve bought in the shop will have straight angles. general ones for sawing panels. . Otherwise the end result . That’s usually what goes wrong. but right next to it. your panels will usually turn out to be just a bit smaller (e. Two. . In that case you can turn the wood upside down (with the laminated side on the bottom) so you can draw your lines on the bare plywood side. 35° is ideal. you’ll definitely be alright with a hand saw.It’s best to blow the sawdust away from time to time while you’re sawing. Of course this depends on the blade. . Furthermore.It’s not always easy to draw these lines with a pencil if you’re working with laminated flight case wood.Use a pointy carpenter’s pencil to draw the line you’re going to saw.will also be crooked. you can saw more exact right next to the line. It’s very important that the line you’re going to saw along is straight and the angles are right angles. If you’re sawing right on the line.Before drawing the line. . and more specific ones for sawing wood for your flight case. but that’s certainly not always the case. With a little bit of cleverness. but if you’re only going to be making a few cases. For two reasons: one. A thin line is necessary for you to be able to work exact. you really don’t need to buy an electric saw. Draw the lines for your panels on the wood. 1 mm) than what you had measured out on your big panel. Otherwise you won’t be able to see the line very well and you’ll start sawing crooked. Proceed as follows: before you start sawing. A bigger angle will increase the chance of sawing crooked. preferably one with long arms. but sawing right next to the line is often a good trick to account for this issue. manual sawing demands more energy than doing it or having it done mechanically. It’s important though that you work very exact. . This will give you at least one straight angle to start sawing your first panel from.Saw with one hand and keep your other one at a safe distance from the line. the better all the flight case parts will fit onto your case: the aluminium case angles will fit much more snugly if your case is straight.

75 in or 3U. In practice all professional manufacturers of electronic equipment work with this standard.75 in. So the height of all 19-inch equipment is a whole multiple of 1U and we talk about equipment of 1U. is 5 and 1/4 inches high.85 mm) left between the strips. . he photo here on the [right] has an example of a 19-inch electronic device. The height of a device must always be a whole multiple of one so-called ‘rack unit’ or 1U. 2U. International standards need the rack strips.75 in or 44. to be 0. So the front panel is always 19 in wide and the device itself can be maximum 17. which equals 3 x 1.625 in + 17. As you can see in the photos. People often do: recording studios. But if you’re often on the road. 19-inch rack case A 19-inch rack doesn’t necessarily have to be a flight case.625 in = 19 in. 1U equals 1. for instance. The steel ones are stronger.75 in + 0. and home DJs as well.45 web shop. 3U. it might be useful to build a 19-inch rack into a flight case.875 mm) wide. so there's only 17. The photo here on the right shows you an example with two pieces of equipment in it. (usually) only the front of it is accessible for operating purposes with the connections and cables (usually) at the back. This device. So 19 in are essentially 48.75 in (or 450. height is too.26 cm. for example.54 cm. otherwise it wouldn’t be able to fit in between the rack strips. because the total width is 0.Building a 19-inch rack case Web shop You’ll find aluminium and steel rack strips in the flightcase-brico. You can easily check how many U any of your devices are on their spec sheet. this one 2U: FBQ3102 and this one 3U: FBQ6200. telecommunications and computer industry. of course. Step-by-Step Assembly Instructions . but aluminium ones will do just as well for lots of equipment. Once the equipment is fixed in the rack. which the front panel of the device is fixed to. You could just mount rack strips vertically on two upright wooden panels and then fix your equipment on those. also called ‘rack strips’. for example. etc. Rack units (RU or U) Not only the width of 19-inch equipment is standardised. Actually they’re a kind of cabinet or rack to fix 19-inch-wide equipment into. The technical specifications will also tell you the dimensions.625 in (or 15.What is a 19-inch rack? 19-inch rack 19-inch racks are mainly prominent in the music. 19-inch devices typically have a front panel that’s wider than the device itself and 19 in is exactly the width of the front panel. Actually this is the standard international width for all electronic equipment to fit into a so- called 19-inch rack. The last piece of equipment. is 1U high: FBQ1502. The inch is an English imperial unit of measurement that corresponds to 2. These things typically have holes (this one has 4) at the front to fix them to the rails in the rack.

you need a cage nut. for instance) also have fixing holes at the back. See for example QSC RMX2450. a bolt and a washer. but these are in a different direction. and the double steel rack strips at the back.Really heavy devices (like heavy power amplifiers. because there are different sets for aluminium and steel rack strips. These are available in the flightcase-brico. For each hole. Be careful though. There is a wide range of 19-inch parts available in the web shop and you can also get step-by-step instructions to build your own 19-inch rack case. For this device you need the single steel rack strips at the front. .com web shop in sets of 8.

but including wheel panel and swivel mechanisms. Of course. for example. you could also consider not putting wheels under your flight case(s) and just use a so-called ‘dolly’. A flight case of 50 kg. Then I put the fixed castors on the side where the case will touch the floor when it’s tipped. But of course this is just a matter of personal preference. but don’t forget they also take up more room. is very difficult to lift for one person. Then you can of course choose either fixed or swivel castors. so wheels will offer a solution there. because they’ll make transport a lot easier. Putting wheels under a flight case definitely makes things easier. with or without brake. Where to put the wheels? . Lots of them of course depend on personal preference. Most people opt for swivel castors. If your means of transport is limited in terms of stacking space (and who doesn’t have this problem?). but wheels will often be preferred for heavier cases. The standard flight case castors in the flightcase-brico. you also have to take into account the extra space the wheels will take up. you have to reckon with 15 cm extra height if you use these. but I personally prefer to combine two swivel castors with two fixed ones if I’m going to tip the flight case in the van. a small panel or frame with 4 wheels under it to put multiple flight cases on to move them.Tips for wheels under your case Why wheels? There are a number of factors that play a part in deciding whether to fit wheels under a flight case or not. With swivel castors I’ve namely always had the problem that the wheels end up hanging upside down and that gives a bit of a bump at the moment you want to put the case on its wheels web shop are 10 cm in diameter.

Step 6: wheels. if you’re often transporting your case in the back of a van or truck. you have to take into account three factors:  the braking mechanism on the wheels has to be easily accessible with your foot  the case must stay as stable as possible while moving  tipping has to be easy The first factor is definitely very important. though thinner is OK too. For an example.Once you have decided to put real. Personally I find it the easiest to put the wheel panels on not lengthways. the more stable your case will be. If this is the case. you’ll probably want to put it on its side most of the time (also termed “tipping”). But it’s also just a more practical way to go about things. you have to take your case’s stability into account. If you want to fix your case in place. I find it best to put the two braked castors both on one of the long sides. I hear you ask? You could as well fix the castors straight onto the flight case. you need to think about a few things. To decide where to put the wheels exactly. right? Well. 2 of which are braked. the wheels aren’t usually put straight onto the case itself. Our web shop has this useful mounting kit for 4 wheels. but on a wheel panel. without also having to drill through the aluminium case angles. Fixing castors and wheel panels Usually there are two wheel panels and four castors on one flight case. Why do we actually use wheel panels. as the bolts to the outside only need to go through the wheel panel anyway. We already discussed the two last factors earlier. So it’s actually a question of finding a compromise. the wheel panels make the case stronger and more stable. Secondly. which will be invisible. So I always make short wheel panels. please see the Step-by-step instructions . the long ones furthest to the inside. but sideways. We prefer working with teenuts because they stick out less on the inside of the flight case. The further to the outside you fix the castors. and I spray the panels black to match the case. because you don’t need to drill all the fixing holes for the bolts on your castors all through the flight case wood (and maybe even through the case angles as well). I usually use 18mm plywood. It means that you have to put the wheels very close to at least 1 of your flight case’s sides (in my case this is the long one). so the braking mechanism can swivel far enough from under the case and nobody can easily put the brakes on or off with their feet. On the other hand. once I've sawn them to size. With this method you can even fix the wheels very close to the edge. it’s useful for the wheels not to be too far on the outside. because they’re wedged between the bottom of your flight case and the top of the wheel panel. If I’m working with 4 swivel castors. In the end you’re going to have 8 teenuts on the inside of your case (on the long bolts) and 8 on the ‘top’ of the wheel panels (on the short bolts). especially for fixing wheels and wheel panels:  8 bolts (M8) of 20 mm long  8 bolts (M8) of 30 mm long  16 M8 teenuts  16 washers Why are we using bolts of 2 different lengths? Because we usually fix each castor with two bolts through the wheel panel and two bolts through the flight case bottom and the wheel panel. it’ll stay there more easily with this set-up than if you were to put the 2 braked castors on one of the short sides. the flight case wood is only 9 mm thick. (Roadies often wear safety shoes and put on the brake with the steel tip on those. . After all. blue flight case castors under your case. Firstly.) Obviously you put on the unbraked swivel castors symmetrically. The wheel panels are cut to the same length or width as the case. The short bolts we usually put furthest to the outside.

I don’t drill all of these through the wood of the flight case too. So that would stay unblemished at any rate. Though this would have meant that the fixing holes furthest right and furthest left would have ended up right under the case angle. Good luck! The photo on the left below shows the short and long bolts. I’m going to stick the long (3 cm) bolts through the holes I also drilled through the flight case and fix these with teenuts on the case’s inside. you can of course click on all the photos to enlarge if you want to see more detail. You can see this in the two photos above.This is a good time for a practical example. that it would have been perfectly possible to fit the left castor in the photo even further to the left and the right one even further to the right. For the rest you can see in the photos here that I used my trick with the washers again (as I explained in Tips for teenuts) to draw the teenuts nicely into the wood. You can also see. First I drill the holes I need in the wheel panel. I’m going to stick the short (2 cm) bolts through the holes I drilled only through the wheel panel and fix these with the teenuts between the flight case and the wheel panel. . yes. I wouldn’t have needed to drill through there. but as I would have used short bolts there anyway. Oh. by the way.

building your own flight case?’ Personally I don’t think so. Just read through the step-by-step instructions and at the end of it. but of course they’re also going to count the hours they spent on it. So it’ll turn out a lot cheaper in the end. Still. but you won’t have to invoice your own working hours to yourself. Then there are two possibilities: you either have a professional flight case builder make you one or you make one yourself. It’s obvious that the quality of these things is miles away from the quality of a real flight case with professional parts. That leaves the question: ‘Is it difficult. One of the main advantages of building your own flight case obviously is the fact that it will be really made to measure and exactly how you want it.Why build your own flight case? It’s a well-known story: you need a flight case for a particular piece of equipment. definitely make sure it’s made out of 9mm wood and has more or less professional ball corners. it’s likely you won’t find exactly what you’re looking for. After all you can deliver the same quality as a professional flight case builder. The flight cases available don’t use 9mm wood. And that’ll end up being too expensive for many of us. It only requires time. They often don’t use recessed latches or handles either. But still the term ‘flight case’ is used. for example. case angles. you’ll be convinced that it’s really not that difficult. It’s enough to have a few DIY skills. concentration and a few skills. if you are buying one. web shop. you’ll still need to look at the quality from up close. to refer to a plastic box with some reinforced edges and corners. Why would you start building one yourself if there are ready cases on the market to buy? By all means surf the net and try and find yourself a flight case. . Building your own flight case Building your own flight case is often the ideal solution if you want the best possible quality (a super sturdy case) but would like to keep the price a bit affordable. but either thinner or plastic instead. For example you can choose the best flight case wood if only the very best will do. But even if you find a standard flight case of (more or less) the right dimensions. or a computer or a mixing console. A flight case builder will obviously provide you with a good case of professional quality. even in bog-standard DIY shops. like they are available in our flightcase-brico. Most ready-built flight cases don’t offer this kind of quality laminate structure. If your case must have very specific (non-standard) dimensions. for example. butterfly latches. For an amplifier.

You can easily work out the number of rivets you’ll need with the list of flight case parts you’ll be putting on and the dimensions of the case you want to build. That’s quite a lot.0 mm in diameter. Always drill all the way through the wood for the long rivets.0 x 9. . stackable ball corners 48 4 large butterfly latches.5 mm) and long (4. First up. certainly because you don’t put asymmetric strain on your back that way. See the photos below for an example. That’s another 64 for my case.0 x 12. Both short and long rivets are 4. And I find carrying heavy loads always easier with two hands. for example. Number of short rivets Number of long rivets 8 large corner braces 16 16 4 large ball corners and 4 large. so you can use the same drill bit for both sizes. I’ll give you an example. You can also use them to put on the handles. You use the short ones to put the parts on the lid locations of your case and the long ones for all the rest. 8 handles. So I end up with a total of 32 short rivets and 296 long ones. But don’t think this is really too much. make a list of all the parts that have riveting holes. isn’t it! OK. Use the short ones to put parts on the lid locations and drill through the outside of the lid location and the wood ‘in’ it. so we’ll be carrying it with two people. So always use long rivets to fix the case angles. Hence the two handles on each side. The case will weigh about 60 kg once it’s got the equipment in it. but not through the inside part of the lid location. at least where they don’t overlap with the lid locations. I’ll admit that the flight case in my example has A LOT of parts. This way it’ll stay nicely intact. with spring 16 40 8 large heavy-duty handles 104 4 castor dishes 24 Add to this the long rivets you need to fix the case angles. You’ll always need more rivets than you’d think at first sight.5 mm) rivets.Which rivets do you need for your flight case and how many? You always need short (4. Practice has taught me that this is not too much either. I’m going to calculate the number of rivets I’m going to need for the case in the step-by-step instructions. In certain circumstances it may also be necessary to hold the case in a different way. is quite a lot.

namely those of 4. to fix everything to the lid web shop. 4. for example. or just to give it an even tougher appearance.8 x 15 mm. so you need a 5 mm drill bit for them.8 x 15 mm rivets are used. Longer rivets. Of course you’ll use fewer rivets if you’re working with medium-sized parts. In the same way you can replace the 4.0.e. just as a replacement for the standard 4. They’re not needed for normal flight cases.0 x 12. 4. . often in order to make the flight case even stronger.8 x 24.5 mm rivets with the larger and stronger 4. for instance.5mm rivets you can use to fit a recessed handle with a back plate. The decision to use medium or large is rather down to the size of your flight case and the way it’ll be loaded. but only very special ones.5 mm are also available in the flightcase- brico.8 x 10.For this particular example I also consistently used the large version of the butterfly latches. They all come in a diameter of 4.8 x 19. i. but I don’t think saving on the number of rivets should be a reason to work with medium parts instead of large ones.8 x 19. The 4.8 mm instead of 4.5 mm ones. ball corners and handles.5 mm and 4.0 x 9.5 mm ones.

Then we put in the teenuts from the inside and just push them into the wood a little bit with our thumb. an M6 teenut needs a hole of at least 8 mm (7. Now continue screwing the bolt in steadily and firmly until the teenut is drawn into the wood to the very edge.5 mm is fine too. for example. There’s a metal ring inside the feet. All these parts are available from our web shop in one easy and affordable kit. Don’t put too many of them on. steel washers on it (most DIYers have these lying around somewhere).5 mm in diameter. So we take one of the bolts and stick a few large. or maybe for the rubber feet under your flight case.5 mm at a time). meaning they fit M6 bolts. Then unscrew the bolt. or . take the washers off and put the rubber foot on. if your drill bits go up by 0. At this stage you could take a hammer and bang the teenut deeper into the wood. . which means they are 6 mm in diameter and 16 mm long. The bolts are M6x16. The photo shows everything we need: 4 rubber feet. Because banging them will potentially drive them into the wood crooked. Then we take our drill with a 6mm drill bit for wood and make a hole for each rubber foot. The teenuts are M6. it’s better to use teenuts. First we turn the case upside down and put the feet exactly where we want them. The fixing hole for one foot measures 6. But in lots of situations. but you shouldn’t do this. The major advantage of these is that the bolt and nut won’t stick out on the inside of your flight case. Now we take the feet away and put on an 8 mm drill bit to increase the diameter of our four holes to 8 mm. there only need to be enough of them for the bolt to get some grip on the teenut. It’s better to draw the nut into the wood with a bolt.make one of the prongs (the sharp bits on the top) bent. so don’t worry about damaging the rubber with the drill. After all. For example: we have a case we want to put four rubber feet under.Tips for teenuts Of course you can use standard nuts and bolts to screw something in.even worse . For the wheels. 4 teenuts and 4 bolts. You won’t be able to push them in very deep. as you can’t apply much force with your thumb. so you can work with an M6 bolt. but you don’t have to anyway.

apart from the edge of the teenuts obviously.At the end you’ll see nothing sticks out on the inside of your flight case. This makes the inside of your case very even and easy to line. . with foam for instance.

The last two photos below show you how a strap handle works: the left picture shows it flat against the case. but if this doesn’t go very well. as you can see in the photo. also available in the web shop. but of course you can follow the same steps to put on a medium one as people often ask us how they should fix an external-mount handle on a flight case. while a large one will need 4. flexing it. because this could twist the metal ends. which uses the force of the bolt to draw the nut into the wood nice and evenly. Now put the handle aside for a moment. so the heads of the screws will remain visible. For this particular example. We start by putting the handle with its two metal fixing plates flat on the wood (see the photo above). More specifically. in rest.Tips for external-mount handles I decided to write a little article on this. You can try to bang the teenuts in on the inside with a hammer. There is one mounting kit for the large handles and one for the medium ones. but not too tight. because at flightcase-brico. Now we’re ready to fix the handle: put it in its place with the two metal fixing plates that have come with it. because we’ll fix the teenuts on the inside of the flight case first. the case is carried with the handle. it’s better to use the trick with the metal washers I explained in Tips for teenuts. . put in the screws and screw them in sufficiently so they can’t come loose. we’ll be putting on a large strap handle. The only difference is that a medium handle will be fixed with 2 bolts. The large strap handle comes with caps to cover up the screws. this concerns the large and medium strap handles from our web shop. Then we make the holes with a 6 mm drill bit for wood. on the right one. We use the mounting kits for strap handles. The medium handle doesn’t have these.

The feet will make sure the cases can be stacked more stably. The cases will be easy to stack if you have several identical ones: the normal ball corners on the top case will then slot nicely in the ‘dents’ of the stackable corners on the bottom one. the dent in the stackable ball corners that they don’t bump into the normal ball corners that are stacked on top of them. But practice has shown this is mostly not enough. in spite of the theory. is a good start. So we at flightcase-brico. We consider this a general rule which we wanted to give you as a nice tip. In practice this means that you put 4 normal ball corners. meaning that in reality two of these cases on top of each other will still be a bit usually recommend to combine stackable ball corners with rubber feet. A construction with 2 or 3 of these cases will usually not be very stable at all. the instability is only going to get worse. After all a case is not perfectly ‘straight’ most of the time. And if the bottom case has any handles or butterfly latches on the top of it as well. . 4 stackable ball corners and 1 set of rubber feet on every case you want to stack. You can put the 4 stackable ones onto the top corners of your case and the 4 normal ones on the bottom corners.Stacking multiple flight cases How to design a flight case if you want to stack several identical ones on top of one another? Using 4 stackable ball corners (medium or large) and 4 normal ones.

Related Interests