I used to store all my nuts and bolts in a series of jars, but that was taking up too much space and wasn't very organized. I designed a wooden hardware organizer that can be cut out on a laser cutter. The entire thing is pretty compact, only about 8 inches across, and can store 12 different items. You can also remove a divider or two if you want larger storage areas.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to make my customizable laser cut storage organizer.
You will need one of the following files. You can use the .ai file if you use Adobe Illustrator, which is the main graphics design edittor I use. However, I have also included a PDF for people who use other softwares
Step 1: Materials and Tools
This tutorial assumes you have access to and operator's knowledge of a CNC lasercutter. As each machine's software and interface are drastically different, I'll have to assume that you know how to operate the laser cutter you will be using. The laser I used accepts illustrator files, which is why I uploaded the design as an .ai file. However, I also uploaded the .pdf for people who use a different software. Open the .pdf file in your laser's software, as pdf's are very standard file types and should be accepted by your laser's software.
In addition to a cnc laser cutter, you will need a few quick release clamps or rubber bands.
As for materials, you will need a sheet of 1/8" plywood. A sheet about 12" by 24" fits all the parts. You can get one for just a couple bucks at a local hardware store.
You'll also need some wood glue. Technically, super glue or epoxy will work, but wood glue will yeild the best results.
Step 2: Laser Cutting the Pieces
The file has been modified to contain all the pieces you need, as well as the correct number of them. Open the provided file and cut out the parts. Use whatever are the recommended settings for 1/8" plywood vector cutting, but for the raster settings we want to manually set them. The goal will be to raster half way through the material so that the laser burns out a slot in which the top can slide into.
To accomplish this, I played around with a lot of different settings until I found an optimal one. On my 60 Watt laser, 100% power, 25% speed, and 500ppi worked like a charm. If your laser is not a 60 watt Universal Laser Systems one, you may have to use slightly altered settings. As such, you may find the following tutorial of mine useful: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Hide-Finge...
It is all about a technique for rastering half way through a material. Otherwise, I would recommend creating a small rectangle as a raster object and cutting it out first. Keep practicing with this small object until you successfully raster halfway through your 1/8" plywood. Then, copy those raster settings into the cut for the pieces of this project, and cut them out.
Step 3: Making the Side Pieces
The sides needed several grooves for this project to work, so I made the side up by stacking 2 layers of 1/8" plywood. The first layer is the outer wall, and the second layer has grooves cut out through them. The resulting composite is 1/4" thick and has a 1/8" groove in it.
Check out the second image in this step. You will want to gather all the pieces that look like that. They look like a bunch of square that are joined together at the bottom. You will also need the two pieces with the deep raster on them and the two rectangle pieces with no slots.
Apply wood glue to one side of the four squares piece(picture 2), and glue it to either of the slotless rectangles. Next, you will want to find the other four squares piece and glue it to the other slotless rectangle. Next, you should glue the two shorter three squares pieces to the deep rastered pieces. For this one, you will want the rastered slot to be face up when you glue the three squares piece on top. Check out pictures 4 and 5 if you are still unsure of how to glue these 2 pieces. Make sure the fingers on the bottom line up for all of these.
Go ahead and set these aside to dry. I clamped them together in a table vice to secure them, but they can also be clamped with quick release clamps or rubber bands.
Step 4: Assembly
The first picture shows the base and the four 1/4" pieces we made in the last step. That is essentially the layout of the final box. First, put some wood glue on the tips of each finger on the base piece and insert one of the wall pieces. Next, add some more wood glue to the sides of that wall piece and add on the two neighboring wall pieces. Lastly, add some wood glue to the neighboring wall pieces exposed sides, and glue on the final wall piece. I clamped the whole assembly together and let it dry for about an hour before I handled it. Let it dry for 24 hours for a full cure before use.
After its dried, the dividers can be slid in. They are designed to be easily removable so you can customize how many sections you have as well as their size. If they are too tight going in, try sanding the side edges a little bit. They were a nice loose fit for me and I have no trouble sliding them up and down.
Step 5: Customizing the Lid
You can raster on a custom label or image onto the lid if you wish. This couldn't be done in the original cut file since we were using very high intensity raster settings. For mine, I put on an image and the label "HARDWARE".
To raster this onto the lid, place the lid into your laser and design the raster file you want to raster onto the lid. Make sure its smaller than 5" x 7" so its fits on the lid. Next, you can use the focus tool to position your cut relative to the lid (if your laser has that). Otherwise, check out the measuring edges within your laser and on the laser cutter preview and use it to position the cut on the right spot of the lid.
Congrats, your hardware sorter is done. I'm really pleased with how this project turned out, so I may make another one or two to really neaten up my workshop. Let me know if you have any questions about the project. If you would like to see more DIY home improvement stuff, check out my profile :)