In this project, I will show you the design process and production of a 124 piece socket holder on a CNC machine. Let us get started.
to quickly clarify, I made this specifically for all the metric and specialty sockets and driver bits that come with the Kobalt 432 piece mechanics set (https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-432-Piece-Standard...) Since this was my first tool set I wanted to try my best to keep all the parts together and organized, but I couldn't find an organizer with enough spots for all my different types of sockets. So I opted to make one.
Step 1: The Design Process
The first thing I needed to do when making this was figure out what my max workspace was for my sockets. For some, this may not be a problem as you plan on using this on a stand or table but I wanted this to fit inside my tool box so I first found the inner dimensions of the drawer I wanted to use to hold all my metric sockets and specialty sockets. The file included in this Instructable is for a Husky 27" toolbox (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-27-in-W-7-Drawer-...) and fits within the drawer space of 23" x 15". I then proceeded to open a file in Adobe Illustrator (Any application works fine but this is the one I chose) the same size as my tool box drawer and figure where my placement of sockets would go. I decided to go with a wrapping method where all the sockets of one type would start towards the top left and travel towards the right till they hit the wall and started traveling down the side of the organizing tray.
Step 2: The Drawing Process
Then started the tedious part of taking a set of calipers and individually measuring the bottom diameter of each socket independently. To my surprise, I found that there was very little coherence in the diameter of each socket, almost every single one was slightly different. As I measured the diameter of each one I added approximately .2mm to the size of each socket so that they would stay where they were put, but not be in so tight that I wouldn't be able to get them out. I had no particular method to my side to side spacing of each socket other than to try to keep it consistent, Illustrator and most other drawing tools have a function to help with this process. Once I completed a full row of similar sockets I would label that row with the type tool and move onto the next row. I repeated this process with each of my categories of sockets. I decided to break my sockets up into these categories:
12 point 1/2"
12/6 point 3/8"
6 point 1/4"
safety star bit
drivers hex bit
Step 3: CAM/G-Code Process
Once you complete this and have them organized the way you so desire, you have to export your file into something your printer can read. There are many ways to do this depending on what software you are using, in Fusion 360, for instance, you can actually design, render, CAM, and produce G-code all with one application (I have since moved to Fusion 360 after discovering its power). For our application (Adobe Illustrator) we need to export our file as a .SVG file so we can import it into our CAM/G-code software. I used Carbide Create to produce the CAM and G-code then used CarbideMotion to drive the CNC machine (Shapeoko XL). once your file is loaded into Carbide Create, you need to decide the total plunge depth you would like to use for your socket holder. I used 2MM for anything larger than a 1/4" drive and 1MM for anything that was 1/4" drive. I then configured my tool choice, I used a 1/4" endmill for my tool. You do not want to use anything larger than a 1/4" bit purely because at that size you are getting fairly close to the diameter of the smallest socket we have. If you are really impatient you could go up to a bit that is the same size as your smallest socket but I don't recommend it. You then need to set your plunge rate and spindle speed based on what it is you are cutting your socket holder out of and what type of bit you decide to use. The internet is usually a good place to check as well as Carbide Create will have suggestions as for what to use for all your values based on what you tell it. I decided to use high-density MDF for my socket holder and set the values accordingly. Once you are ready, Save it as G-code and open it in Carbide Motion.
Step 4: Physically Producing Your Socket Holder
Once you have your G-code loaded into your application (I used Carbide Motion) then you need to put your material on the workspace, set zero for your spindle Z-axis, and set your X,Y zero at the corner of your work piece (or set the corner of your piece in your pre-set machine zero.) I used a set of wood clamps to secure my piece of MDF to the workspace. Once you feel everything is good and calibrated all that's left to do is grab your favourite beverage and hit run so you can watch and make sure it doesn't destroy itself. It is usually a good idea to check your file first by running a portion of it without a bit or turning the router on just to see if what it's doing looks like it makes sense. If it passes this test then all you can do is hit go and wait for it to finish your socket set.
Step 5: Presto! a New Socket Holder.
Congratulations! you have done it, you have created yourself a cost effective and sleek way to organize your obscene amount of sockets! Now all that's left to do is push the piece into your drawer (if that's what you decided to do with it) or put it on your bench and begin putting sockets in it. You will see here that I accidentally put a few too many holes in my organizer, though it does allow a little room for expansion. The truth is nothing's perfect and this was the first thing I made with a CNC machine so I'm pretty happy with it. Enjoy your new socket organizer!