Easy-To-Make Tool Organizer

I normally don’t pick up the magazine FineScale Modeler (too expensive on a regular basis), but last month was an execption. In it, they featured a neat little two-page article on building your own tool organizer. In need of something better than what Hobby Lobby was capable of supplying (at a reasonable price), I decided to follow along and "build" my own. In this post, I’ll detail out what I did and hopefully a few of you will find it useful.

First off, you need to go to your local building supply chain. In the U.S., this would be Menards, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. Now, go down the PVC aisle and look for 3/4", 1", and 1 1/4" couplers, caps, or whatever other widgets you think might be useful (local system of measurement may vary) I think I ended up with something like ten 3/4" couplers, ten 1" couplers and two caps, five 1 1/4" couplers and two caps, and an odd-angle doohickey. Seriously, just go down the PVC aisle and figure out what might work well for you. You’ll probably end up with a pile something like this:

In addition to whatever PVC bits and pieces you end up with, you’re going to need a small acrylic sheet (somewhere around 12" x 18" will work out about right), and PVC cement. For cost, the whole thing ended up costing me a lot less than $20–and I bought an acrylic sheet twice as big as I needed.

Once you’ve got everything home, it’s time to start figuring out how you’re going to actually set up your tool organizer. This is basically just trial and error. Put your acrylic sheet down on your workspace, and just start putting the PVC pieces where you think they ought to go. If you’re me, you end up with something like this:

You may not be able to tell from the picture, but I’ve taped the acrylic sheet down to my cutting mat, just so I could use the grid to align the PVC pieces to. Keeps everything in a relatively straight line. That little tip wasn’t in the FSM article, but was a real help.

Once you’ve figured out where everything is going to go, it’s time to secure things down. Safety First! PVC cement is nasty, nasty stuff and precautions are necessary. You’re going to want, at the very least, a dust mask to protect you from the fumes the cement puts off. I would also strongly recommend that you use gloves and safety glasses. This isn’t stuff that you want to come in contact with any of your skin. Also, at this time, make sure you remove any protective backing from the acrylic sheet so that you’ll be cementing the PVC pieces directly to the acrylic.

Now that you’re all set, simply apply PVC cement to the bottom of the PVC pieces and set them firmly on the acrylic sheet. Drying time is relatively quick–I left everything alone for 30 minutes and it seemed well-attached to the sheet. The easiest (and least messy) way I found to apply the cement was to pull the brush out of the "can" of cement, let the excess drain back in, and leave the brush directly over the open can while moving the bottom of the PVC around the brush.

And after everything has dried, it’s time to start throwing tools into the new tool organizer. Mine ended up looking like this:

… Although now it has a few more tools in it.

In addition to just being organized, it also has the added benefit of being semi-portable. If you need to move it around your desk–or around the house–things suddenly are much easier than before.

So that’s it, really… Cheap, easy, and not requiring much time at all. I hope you find this useful. If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. If you have any comments, they’re always welcome.


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