No ideas beyond what you thought of, but the next time our office gets new "Audit Cases", I may have to confiscate one of the old ones. These have wheels on the back and a retractable handle for pulling them through airports, so would make moving them around the shop with a heavy load of tools in them a bit easier.
What you have there is commonly known as a "sample case" or a "catalog case". It is essentially a hard sided bag designed for salesmen to schlep around samples and catalogs. It would make an excellent case for tools and small parts.
My suggestion would be to us a bunch of toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes glued together to form the "grid" you mentioned. Just make sure the are shorter that the tools or other things you'll stand up in them. One one end, you could stack a series of small plywood boxes made to fit the case. They could hold the little things that rattle and get lost in the bottom of any tool case. If you wanted to get really fancy, you could use pieces of thin wall PVC as your tubes. Regular PVC glue would secure them along their sides. And if you wanted to get really really fancy, you could put slightly longer tubes at the corners to hold a second matrix of tubes above the first.
West Palm Beach, FL
[link:search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZchriscmoor6rfhQQhtZ-1QQfrppZ50QQfsopZ1QQfsooZ1QQrdZ0?|View my eBay items: vintage tools and other "stuff".]
You described a tool case that Norm built a couple of years ago. It was a copy of a master carpenter who lived about a hundred (or so) years ago and it now resides in a museum. It was made completely of wood, contained multiple tiers of compartments and drawers and must have had a couple of hundred tools in it. It was one of the most beautifully organized things I have ever seen. There probably wasn't a cubic inch of space left unused (I'm exaggerating a little here).
I found this suitcase which haven't been used for centuries, so why not build a toolbox out of it? I plan to keep all those little things that you always need colleced in here.
So what do I put inside of it? I'm thinking about boxes, not so high that I can put on top of eachoter, made of 4 mm plywood.
One other idea is to have the tools standing, and a grid of cardboard between them so they keep still. Then they will be easier to access (perhaps!).
Just yesterday, we used clamps after glue simply to take the bow out of the wood we were using, and it straightened everything out for us. Usually though, any time you lay up a project the clamps are...