Any search for ‘magnetic electric plate geocache’ will typically give you buying options somewhere between $3 and $6, and the ones which are available are the bright shiny kind.
They work well for caches, but doggone it, they’re shiny.
So, I’m going to show you my method to easily make one that looks way more real, and for not much more money than you can buy one of these online. Then there’s the satisfaction of knowing you made your own.
Outdoor plate covers are the style and color of typical outdoor junction boxes. A good geocache camo’ed well, would be also. After all, what good is a geocache that doesn’t actually look like the thing it pretends to be?
Step 1: Ingredients
1. Waterproof Plate Blank Cover – These are the ones that have the words SUITABLE FOR WET LOCATIONS stamped into them. They come in matte gray and usually run about $3 each. Included with it is a foam backing (see later step) and two stainless screws.
2. Metal Epoxy – something like JB Weld or Loctite. If you don’t have this hanging around, you probably know someone who does. Available at the same hardware store where you got your plate cover.
3. Craft Magnets – Maybe not available at the hardware store. I found the ones I used at a hobby store. The one with a lobby. Some folks may be tempted to use the rare-earth kind here. My experience is, those rust faster.
Step 2: Getting The Front Together
You can probably see in the above photo that the stainless screws are trimmed short. Yep, that’s on purpose.
(If you’ve got the whole screw inserted into the finished product, the plate wouldn’t sit flush once you hide it like a cache.)
Take your craft magnets and put them on your bench vise, and they’ll catch the screw heads once you cut them off with a hacksaw.
You’re gonna need a hacksaw.
And a bench vise.
Again, if you don’t have these, your handsome pawpaw probably does, or his friend. Bring over a couple tall boys and they’ll probably do this step for you.
It’ll give you another opportunity to have people look at you funny while you explain geocaching.
Step 3: Making It More Water-Resistant
The plate cover comes with a nice foam gasket which is waay too big for using in geocache fashion. Trim it down to about 1/4″ on all sides, then use more of your epoxy to secure it to the back edges of your cache cover. Don’t go easy on the epoxy here. Give it a good bead.
Step 4: Cache Magic
Well, I didn’t have any pics of this step. See the 2nd pic above. With your remaining epoxy you’ll secure your magnets to the corners.
Leave everything alone to set completely overnight, then you’re ready to add a log, then slap it on your hiding spot and gather your coordinates for your hide.
What some folks have done here is to secure a baggy to hold their log to the inside of the plate using some epoxy also. My experience is that it’ll come apart because metal epoxy doesn’t bond to plastic very well. There is a 2-part epoxy which used liberally, and i mean liberally, will hold a log bag well in this manner. But for the easiest way, a slab of duct tape will also. You’ll find your own way here.
Experiment with it, let us know what works best for you.