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The (In Progress) Tool Holder

It’s been a while since I posted about The (Old) Tool Holder but I did make some progress… Twice! I worked on the holders for wire cutters and wire strippers and made some progress.

I was mostly pleased with the wire stripper holder, though I can see a few improvements to do next time…

I do like that I can reorder the tools if needed. That was one of the main ideas of using the dovetail connections…

This version lasted about a day or two. I got annoyed by the holder for the wire cutters and made a change to the model…

And then I printed another one. Oh, yeah, I did end up changing the filament so we get a nice Prusa golden color this time!

The small modification help keep the wire cutters closed and they sit better in the holder. With the old wooden version I just sort of hacked at the wood so I could jam the cutters in and they would hold in place and hold shut. With modeling something it’s a bit different, but we’re getting there!

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The (Old) Tool Holder

Tool Holder

Back in February I got sick of the tools I use most at my soldering desk just lying in a pile and decided to do something about it. I grabbed a block of wood and started drilling holes so I could place tools into it standing straight up. This would make them easy to grab and hopefully easy to put back… in the same place each time. The block of wood has worked well enough, but more than once I’ve wanted to change the order of the tools, and I can’t easily do that since each hole is customized for the tool it holds.

It was also a fun time creating the holes for the wire cutters and wire strippers since the holes are sort of oblong. I actually did pretty good for freestyle drilling on those. At the time I also imagined a modular system for this, and a month later I found a dovetail library for OpenSCAD and started messing around with it. I could not get a good dovetail joint to print though, so I gave up for a while.

Tool Holder

A few more months past (hey, I got busy) and instead of printing the dovetails on the old Maker Select Plus I tried on the Prusa MINI+ and wow, things fit perfectly! Well, after a few tests prints to determine the exact Teeth_clearance to use. Once I had that, Bob was my uncle!

Tool Holder

Here’s the first successful attempt. The pieces fit together well. Not super-tight, but not too loose. A small strip of tape on the bottom of the blocks would work well to hold them all together as one piece, with the ability to easily take apart and reconfigure. (The first dovetail attempts required a hammer to assemble and could not be disassembled!)

I’m still considering this prototyping, and I may tweak things a bit more before the final version… When I have something final I’ll post it here. My first thought on this version is to make the blocks a little smaller so the tools are spaced together a bit tighter. This should save a bit of desk space as well.

Tool Holder

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Printing versus… Not Printing?

After I posted about my Fan Shelf Brackets I shared it on Facebook, and got the following comment from a friend:

I’ve done that with blocks of wood. I’m not sure the 3D printer adds any value over that.

I didn’t try to add value by using my method (3D printing) over another method (cutting blocks of wood) but I wanted to explain my approach, so I did. you can read my response below:

Great comment! So here’s the deal… Sometimes printing is easier for these things, at least for me. I would need blocks of wood, and I would also need to cut the wood. Now, those things should not be too difficult, but they can be. I have a miter saw in the garage, and to use it I need to open the garage door and move my car back partway into the alley, then use the saw, then move my car back. The miter saw is okay for cutting small pieces of wood, but I don’t always feel comfortable doing that. (I don’t have a real table saw, so that’s not an option for me.)

Once I make the needed cuts I probably have to glue and clamp things, or nail/screw them together. Again, not a huge pain, but it is work. Also, I do need to have wood on hand. (Who am I kidding, I always have scrap around!)

With the printed version, I printed a small test part quickly to see if it would fit, then I printed the larger versions overnight, confident they would fit right based on my test. Since the groove is 6mm wide I would either need to cut a groove that width or stack multiple cuts/pieces and glue them together to get what I needed.

There’s always multiple ways to do things, and honestly, with two 3D printers on hand and plenty of filament, this was the easiest way for me to make this thing.

I’ve been 3D printing things for over a decade now. Have I printed things that might seem silly to print? Sure, and I’m one of those people who mostly does practical printing, not fun decorative things. I once print a shim because it was the easiest way for me to get exactly what I needed. As long as I have a 3D printer I am going to use it for all sorts of things that other people might not. If you’ve got metalworking or woodworking tools and raw materials and feel comfortable and skilled working with those, you might choose to do so. For me personally, modeling and printing a thing makes good sense, and luckily, I still enjoy it.

Note: I think it’s important to pull conversations like this out of the walled garden that is Facebook, so I may do this more often if valuable insight (!?!) warrants it.

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A Little Bolt Cutter

I’ve mentioned this before, but I tend to get all my metric hardware from Bolt Depot. I’ve got a good collection of bolts, mainly 3mm, 2.5mm, and 2mm, that I use for electronics projects. I tend to get a bunch of different lengths and go for higher quantities on the more common sizes I use. This means I often don’t have a ton of really short bolts. 10mm or 12mm in length, I’ve got… 4mm to 6mm, not so much.

So last year while planning for a project that needed less than 40 really short 2mm bolts I thought about placing an order for more hardware, but realized that getting what I needed (which I probably wouldn’t use for anything else) was quite expensive when shipping was factored into the cost, so instead I got a bolt cutter!

I grabbed this TEKTON 8 Inch Bolt Cutter and it’s been super handy for making shorter bolts out of the 20mm bolts I rarely use. The description says “Cuts bolts, chain, threaded rod, and heavy gauge wire up to 3/16 in. diameter”. Conversion maths says that 3/16″ equals 4.7625mm. I’ve only used this to cut bolts 3mm or smaller in diameter and honestly even the 3mm is a little tough. But 2mm/2.5mm is just right.

Right now the 8″ cutter is $13 and the 12″ cutter is $32. I’d suggest getting the 12″ if you are okay spending that much and want to cut bolts larger than 3mm in diameter, but for the smaller stuff these 8″ cutter works well. If I’m screwing the bolt into a 3D printed part I don’t even bother fixing up the threads, as they just need to bite into the plastic. If you’re attaching a nut you’ll want to thread one one or more nuts up to the head of the bolt before you cut so you can unscrew them and clean up the threads a bit. (I’m pretty sure I learned that trick from Frankie Flood.)

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Wire Holder

I made a Wire Holder. It’s like a pen holder/pencil cup but for wire of a specific length. It’s difficult to tip it over, especially if you use a high infill. Just visit PrusaPrinters to grab the files for the Wire Holder. (There’s an STL file and an OpenSCAD file available.)

I printed this on my old Monoprice Maker Select Plus, which explains the (poor) print quality. If I had printed it on the Prusa, I’m sure it would look much better. It doesn’t really need to look good though… it works, that’s what matters. (The Prusa was busy printing something more important at the time.)

Also, yes, I know… but this is for wire of a specific length.