Propane Tank Tool Box




About: I am the co-director, co-founder and lead instructor for the Customs for Urban Teens Program (CUT Program). Started in 2009 we take at risk youth and teach them how to build custom cars. I am a journeyman ma...

In this Instructable I am going to show you how I took an old, expired, empty and ugly 30lbs propane tank and made a tool box for the tongue of my little travel trailer. This project was done over a few days with minimal cost, using found and recycled parts and pieces.
I found a need for this as my trailer has very little exterior storage and the fact I will probably never need to run 2 tanks on my trailer. Wasted space no more!!!


Step 1: Safety

OK. We are dealing with a tank that held compressed , volitile fuel. I cannot stress how important it is to be safe on this one. Do not skip any safety steps. Read as much as possible about emptying these tanks properly. There are plenty of youtube videos and other sites that are available. I do not accept any responsibily for any negligence in emptying or cutting of the tank.

Step 2: Empty Tank and Make Safe

First things first. Take empty tank and go outside. Open valve and leave outside for 24 hours. Now its empty I removed the set screw in the side of valve. Next I removed the open/close knob on top of valve. Invert tank and leave outside for a couple more hours.
Now remove the valve. It is a tapered thread so it will be tight. It is regular right hand thread but it should be tight. In my case very tight. Keep working at it. Eventually it will come apart
Last step is I filled it full of water. Any residual fuel will get pushed out of the top hole. A little redundant maybe, but

Step 3: Mark Out and Cut

Pretty simple here. Mark out your door and cut er open.
I used masking tape and a felt to mark out door location. I also cut opposite of the handle on top so I can mount on my trailer and still access all my equipment.
A simple angle grinder and cut off wheel made short work of this

Step 4: Door Construction

So I wanted a container at the bottom of the door to hold small items such as nuts and bolts, pins and such. A quick carboard template was made and then transfered to steel. I spaced it up from tge bottom of the door i case my hinges sag a bit.
I also wanted extruded steel for a shelf to slide screwdrivers and such into. Using the existing seam in the tank as a shelf support i welded it in.

Step 5: Body

As with the door I added an extruded steel shelf. I also used existing seam as support. I added a steel strip to the front of shelf with a bunch of holes drilled in it so I can see what is on the shelf as it is hard to see in.

Step 6: Hinges

Now this could be done a number of ways. Many different hinges are available. I opted to make my own.
Line up door. I used a couple of shims to space it properly. Tack hinges in place. Put the door on and test function. Happy with how it worked I welded it together.

Step 7: Door Clasps

Again there are many ways to do this step. I have no idea where I got these parts......but they needed a home!
I lined them up with the door bolted in place. A couple of plug welds and they are on. Not having a "female" part to these I simply welded a few nuts on the body.

Step 8: Prep and Paint

Again a simple step. Take your project all apart. Sand, prime and paint color of your choice. I happened to have a few cans of this color on the now its burgundy
Once the paint has dried put it all back togethe. I re-installed the valve on top but this could be a simple plug.

Step 9: Fill With Tools and Mount on Trailer

So now fill with the tools of your choice. Mount on the tongue of your trailer in the spare spot and there you go. Amaze all your camping buddies with a custom toolbox made from scrap!!!!

Step 10: Conclusion

I cannot stress safety enough. Pkease be aware of what can happen messing with propane. This little project took about 4 hours over a couple of days.
This will get a 12 volt light source as a next upgrade.
I also drilled a small hole bottom ceter of tank for water drainage as there is no door seal yet.
I hope this inspires you to use up some old junk. Please post what ya make, would love to see some other configurations on this idea!!!!
Now go make something!!



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    16 Discussions


    7 months ago

    Hi, i have an empy cocking gas tank, i removed the valve and filled in with water for one day and then let it outside (with no water) but still i can smell the gas in it. Is that safe to cut/weld on it ?


    3 years ago

    This is a great idea and well executed. Nice!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I will do this with a 1 lb propane tank to hold my small spanners (wrenches)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    you can ease the valve removal with a heat gun. I believe they use some sort of sealer/glue and the heat softens it up. I've done it on several and its much easier with the heat


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is what we call a heavy duty no-nonsense custom toolbox! Awesome job my friend!


    Reply 4 years ago

    did you have issues with slimy residue inside from the odorant? Maybe that's only a problem with tanks that have been refilled many times


    Reply 4 years ago

    Well she stank for a while.....still a little smelly. Not enough smell to warrant doing anything in my case No residue that I saw or had to deal with. Maybe the water dealt with that. I suppose a sand blasting would deal with odor maybe?? I will try on the next one


    4 years ago

    That looks great. The paint job is really sharp. I might copy this.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    First, let me say AWESOME!

    I was looking at the jerry can tool boxes last month on amazon, choking on The prices they wanted. Then I saw your finished product, and am tickled pink to make one from one of these usually free discarded tanks

    Since you are tig welding the bits in, I would put a flood of argon or nitrogen into the tank before cutting. NOT C02 because of the O2 bit. it is possible, however unlikely, that it could still support a rapid oxidation event (aka, explosion).

    for those without welding equipment, a slightly less safe method would be to flood with water. leave the hose running, and once each at is finished, tape it over with waterproof tape. refill, and make cut. then rivet the shelves and hinges in.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    CO2 is carbon dioxide -- used for increasing the penetration of the weld (though usually 80% Nitrogen/20% CO2 (or 15 or whatever, depending on what you're trying to weld). It is non-flammable.


    The good part about CO2 is that it's heavier than air, but unfortunately it's lighter than propane, hence the whole thing about "leave outside upside down for 24 hours" a couple of times (and using water for the final purge -- I think that's best as it's definitely heavier than any gasses, and it's non-reactive to boot).


    4 years ago

    Note from been there... I did a similar project years ago. Instead I used a five gallon jeep/fuel can. Word from the wiser, install a strap of metal that locks the container to the mount and locks the door. Mine got stolen third night out.

    1 reply