Build A Handy Shooters Tote

Build A Handy Shooters Tote

by: Matthew Kleinmann

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in a lot of fireworks shows where I am just hired labor.  This year I got tired of toting around my big gear box and folding chair and built a nice little tote for just my essential gear and it doubles as a comfortable stool.

As much as I would like to take credit for this on my own, I got the idea from a fellow who used to work on one of the crews with me and I thought it was clever.  It just took me a few years to get off my duff and build my own.

First off, my list of essential gear is,


  • Gloves

  • A claw hammer

  • Shooters phones

  • Safety glasses

  • Hard Hat

  • Head Lamp

  • Long sleeve cotton shirt

  • A bottle or two of water

The design of the tote is simple and elegant.  A 5 gallon pail with a wooden lid.  Here is a list of the stuff I needed to make mine.


  • About 2 square feet of plywood.  I would say anything thicker than ¼” would be fine.

  • A 5 gallon bucket.  The kind sheetrock mud comes in.

  • Screws or nails

  • Wood glue (optional)


I have a pretty good shop but I made mine using the following tools


  • Handheld jigsaw

  • Hammer

  • Belt sander

  • Cordless drill/driver

  • 1” hole saw

  • Set of bits

Construction is really simple, though I did come up with a gizmo that I thought was a little bit clever.

To start, place the bucket top side down tight in on corner of the plywood.  It can be touching two sides.  Trace around the rim of the bucket with your pencil.  Cut on the inside of that line with your jig saw.  When you have the circle cut out go around it with the belt sander until the bucket will just slide over it.

Next, take your 1” hole saw and drill a hole in part of the scrap that you will not use to cut the other large disk out of.  When you have the hole cut, pop the center of the hole out of the hole saw.  Using your bit set, pick a bit just large enough to push your pencil in it’s hole.  If you have a bit indx you can try placing the pencil in the holes the bits come out of.  You want a snug fit.

Now place the bucket face down near two corners of the remaining wood and trace around the bucket with the pencil in the wooden disk.  This should give you a disk about 1” wider than the first one.  After you cut it out, clean up any sharp edges with the belt sander.

Lastly, center the two disks up on each other and fasten the two disks together with glue and screws or nails.  I used air staples.  Yea, I am lazy.

If you want to be extra fancy you can use your jigsaw to cut a notch in each side where the handle comes up, so you can use the handle to lock the top in place.  If you want to be super extra fancy you could cut a circle of out foam and put that on the lid and tack some leather or material over it to make a cushioned seat.

I have found this tote to be really useful.  Not near as heavy as my big box, but big enough to hold the essential items I need out in the field.

 Matthew Kleinmann  Is a professional, licensed pyrotechnician and a staff writer for Mess's Fireworks.