I have a tool problem. No, not that there are too many (that is impossible) just that I don’t have a decent storage system. I have a few drawers that live near the milling machine and hold tools that get used with it. The vast majority of space is taken up by end mills. They are heavy, fragile, sharp enough to cut you, and I have never figured out a good way to store them.
One of the first things I started working on when the betaforge showed up was a better way to deal with this mess. My first inclination was to make a bunch of trays with dividers or slots. I quickly abandoned the idea since that makes it too easy to be lazy and cram more pieces into a slot, and then they bang together and get damaged.
Next was a system of trays that have holes for the tools to stand up (like the simple pine board with holes in the picture). I got pretty far down that path (including experimenting with countersunk screws , and captured nuts for structure).
At some point it occurred to me that these would get heavy, and are not really very flexible since once all the holes are in there you can’t change them.
The current iteration is a modular system of smaller 2” x 2.75” trays, and it is coming along really well. I am able to stuff a lot of end mills in the tray on a staggered array that lets me get at them without cutting my fingers. Similarly the upright is out of the way of the sharp edges, easy to grab, and tall enough to get at even when the tray is full.
The whole thing is held together by one 8-32 screw and nut, and so far it seems very stable. I have incorporated a number of features I read about on other sites that make it easier to put together and much more solid. The Ponoko blog in particular yielded a bunch of insight into how to make the “Tray” stay firmly in place. I used an idea from one of their posts about making “lobed” slots that are easy to put together and very stable.
Another nice thing is that the pieces are fairly small and pack together well. For instance the bottoms and trays could be tightly packed with all extra lines deleted. I think with a little revision I can get the upright bit to pack better as well. They are also a good size to use up scraps of plywood (of which I now have many).
So far I have only made three of these, but I will make many more. I have also been drawing them with all kinds of holes and arrangements for storing other non-round things, I might even become organized.