Beta project eight (Getting Organized)

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 :slight_smile:, 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. :rolling_eyes:


Great project! And, once again, you have done a great job detailing the process. Much appreciated!


Love that project! Only concern might be nicking your fingers if the bits are sharp or pointy and too close to the handle…


Such a great project, and it is amazing at how many different things that one can come up with to utilize the Glowforge. Now I’m starting to re-think my own card catalog drawers and consider trying to make them modular. (instead of a single 12x20, three-row tray)


Wow. Such an innovative design–you are really pushing back the frontiers of 'forging!


So many cool design elements in one piece. There’s so much to learn from here. :slight_smile:


How thick are the wood pieces?
That last one needs a way longer handle, those suckers are big :smiley:


This is great! I’ll use some of what you’ve figured out and shared to make some things when I get the chance. Cardboard prototype even looks pretty good, even if it isn’t the design you went with. I am going to LOVE being able to do that. The arrows, labels, and colored lines make your drawings quite understandable.


Great job.

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Like it a lot. Is there any way, perhaps with three levels of wood instead of two (to capture the tapered parts) of storing bits pointing down so they don’t eat your fingers? And then maybe engraving the bit size/description by the hole?

I have a similar (although not nearly so prolific) problem with router bits, and none of the commercial storage systems really work, especially for the larger bits.


once again great job, tool holders great idea, I have 60 + different end mills for my cnc machine not counting all the router bits, I will be making a few of these when Forgezillia gets here.


Oooooh, I’m getting some really great ideas here! Fantastic foray into organizational bliss! :relieved:


@paulw, you could certainly do that, but most folks don’t store bits and end mills with the sharp edges “down” to prevent dulling them.

Same principle as storing kitchen knifes with the edges up — almost everyone I know stores them edges-down, then wonders why they are always dull. :innocent:

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@dwardio, this seems counterintuitive to me. Knife edges shouldn’t be hitting metal or glass. But especially tool steel, which isn’t dulled until it’s cut through meters of other metal, doesn’t seem like the thing to lose its edge resting on a piece of softwood. I can see how some of the smaller bits could potentially be knocked out of true, though.

I thought about that a lot as I have been going through the drawers taking a partial inventory.

The shanks offer a (mostly) consistent size, so it is easy to figure out how many holder I need, and then I don’t have to worry so much about what to do when I resharpen (or just get rid of) a dull mill. In my case there is just no common size to the business end of these things.

I am not that worried about the sharp parts with these new holders, and anything is better then what I had before!

@dwardio I don’t really think that contact with plywood would be an issue, but I can understand that if the tool is brand new you might want to keep it pristine. In my case these are mostly used or resharps (and I can sharpen my own when necessary) .


The family just got a little bigger.
Left to right those are 3/4" shank then 1/2" then 3/8".
I made a new upright that packs into a rectangle, and now there is almost zero waste.
It might be a little short for the 3/4" bits, so I may change the size for those.


These posts are killing me. So many uses.


These are great! The top shape kind of reminds me of chess pieces. You could design a whole board to help recall where each bit is! Ok maybe that’s a little too geeky… :slight_smile:


Mmmm, do you take long composing your images? There’s always some interesting “ephemera” in the background.


I would suggest, that at this stage, since he is the only known Beta.
He is creating the frontiers.:grinning: