I wouldn't mind seeing some pictures of the different implementations. The heaviest I've seen was made of stainless steel.
Here is mine (Pic: TestStripOverview2). Made of 3 mm and 6 mm Medium Density Fibreboard. I raised the hinges with a shim of RC paper, to raise the flap the thickness of my usual paper (Pic: TSHinge)). I put in the recommended notches to facilitate shifting the paper the correct distance after each exposure, but found them unnecessary as I shift the paper with the safelight on; ruled black lines make this easy under vision (Pic: TSStrips)). The first shift is difficult with the paper abutting the edge of the frame, so I gouged a groove for the fingernail (Pic: TSNailCatch). I left an overhang at the left hand end of the flap (Pic: TSFlange); lifting the flap by hooking the left index finger under it is easier, I think, than grasping a knob on top. Finally, all my home made easels are 20 mm thick (for autofocus). A square of 6mm MDF and a Maplins stick-on 9 mm thick rubber foot (Pic: TSFoot) gives a height of 21 mm, not quite 20 mm but near enough not to affect focus for test strip purposes.
Hand tools? I have a CNC drill/router at work which I may put up to the task!
Steve knowing your skills in this area you'll find it kid's play and well worth the effort. I got mine done by someone with a laser cutter that cut plastic. Using pieces of both black and white plastic I find the paper slides easily and the guides for exposing each section a inch at a time show up very well.
Thank you for the plans. I have a few more weeks of night school left but after that, I intend to make one of these. There is a board we have that is dark on one side, light on the other so I can use the same material and simply flip it over to use the lighter/darker side where I want it. I have always wondered if doing test strips "across the board" of the whole image was giving me good cues about the printing I want to get. The way you explained this and its use makes much more sense to me and allows me to pick where I want to get a test strip and therefor get an accurate starting point to my printing. Having a home darkroom, albeit small, works well but works better with efficient tools. This is one such tool that I intend to get some good use out of. Once again, thank you.