Instructables

Case for wrenches with custom cut foam insert

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I received two sets of ratcheting wrenches for Christmas, one SAE, the other Metric. I was looking for a good case to store them in, but couldn't find a good off-the-shelf model. I decided to use the various tools and materials I have available to me at work and create a box with a custom foam insert for the different sizes of wrenches.

The basic stack-up is like this:
Bottom layer:
A thin craft foam on the bottom, a stiffener (thin plastic) in the middle, and another thin layer of craft foam on top.
Top layer:
A thicker (~20mm) foam with cutouts for various wrench sizes
 
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Step 1: Obtain all supplies and tools

Tools:
laser cutter
band saw
hot glue gun

Materials:
wrenches to put into case
case
craft foam
thick foam
plastic stiffener (to put in-between craft foam, for backing)
Small pieces of plastic which labels can be engraved onto
hot glue stick

One of the most important tools in this project is the laser cutter, it is used to create the custom foam cutouts. I spent a long time choosing a case, and eventually I bought a case on amazon for ~$20 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TMFNLK/ref=oh_o02_s00_i00_details). The inner dimensions of the case are approximately: 395mm wide by 290mm tall by 40mm deep on the bottom, and 25mm deep on the top. I already had 1.5mm craft foam in several colors available, along with 40mm charcoal colored foam. I used some two-layer engravable plastic for the label under each wrench.

Step 2: Cut various materials

I only had 40mm thick foam on hand, so I had to cut it down to the correct thickness on the band saw. I put the now 20mm thick foam into the laser cutter, and made the cutouts for the wrenches (top layer). I then used the laser cutter to cut several pieces of craft foam and plastic stiffener material to act as a bottom layer. I also used the laser to etch and cut labels out of some "laserable" material I had on hand. I have included the files which I generate to cut the foam an labels in .dxf format.
Libbit1 year ago
hi, Please tell me which laser you are using. I build a 3 Axis CNC Router and now I would like to fit a fiber optic laser head, similar to the one in your photos. Thank you Libbit
Prfesser2 years ago
Nice instructable!  FWIW using red for SAE and blue for metric seems to be common (perhaps it's a standard?  I dunno).

For those who do not have access to a laser cutter, I'd suggest using thinner foam, say 10 mm or.  A very sharp knife, a metal ruler, and a set of punches rounds out the tool set.  I bought a set of cheap round punches up to 1" from Horrible Freight a long time ago, can't find 'em on the site tho).  Genuine #11 X-acto brand hobby blades are far superior to almost any other knives for this purpose.

Nice-looking adhesive labels can be prepared from one'a them newfangled electronic labelers ;-).



Damions (author)  Prfesser2 years ago
Thanks for the comment!

I realized after I had already started gluing that I mixed up my backings (red for SAE, blue for Metric), but these things happen haha.

Using thinner foam and a punch set to create the tool cutouts is a great idea, and would make this instructable much more accessible to others on this site.

Thank you for your valuable input!
Yeah...so, I'll just run down to my local Target and pick up a laser cutter.
Damions (author)  RadioFreeRich2 years ago
Larger cities commonly have a tech shop or maker/hacker-space where people can go and rent time on machines such as laser cutters and 3D printers. I do not own a laser cutter either.
Thanks for the info! Let me be clear: I think your project is fantastic! Unfortunately, I live in a city where I don't have access to this type equipment. I'll keep my ear to the ground, though...
Damions (author)  RadioFreeRich2 years ago
That is definitely unfortunate, I'm sorry to hear that. Thanks for looking and commenting! =)
Exactly.
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Looks very professional. Want to share the exact case dimensions and include the digital file you used to laser cut your case so others case use it?
If you have a vacuum former you could make a very professional wrench holder that would really mimic what some pros actually do have. I know a guy who has the complete Snap-On setup.

Next time I go over I'll have to get a picture of it. I'm not even seeing what he has online. Must be something they did 20 or 30 years ago back when everyone had more sense.
Some pros do use foam to organize tools check with your local snap-on dealer and you might be amazed at what they have.

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item.asp?P65=&tool=storage&item_ID=87901&group_ID=2459&store=snapon-store&dir=catalog

Nice work Damions good to see someone takes care of their tools.
I am amazed that they have the audacity to charge $269 for a dozen pieces of foam, a roll of paper and a knife. Even more amazing is they find tools to sell it to.

Better you than me.
I agree it is a little overpriced but how could you not know snap-on would have the "audacity" to overcharge for something. The 7 piece set of wrenches like he has would cost 79.99 from sears(even cheaper at 39.99 from gear wrench, who made the craftsman and most likely the snap-on) or 249.95 from snap-on. I used snap-on as your post led me to believe that you think the pros use snap-on. I would not have made this tool case without including more tools myself but if it works for him then great. He did not build this for me and I think he did a great job.
Well at least the Snap On foam is made in the USA. Fair chance I even roofed the factory it was made in too if they got it off S&S Plastics. A big foam tooling outfit that happens to be based in the USA.

But you're right, Snap On has off shored their actual tool business today. Spain I hear. There is a time and a place for everything. The art is choosing the right ones. That is what separates the greats from the also rans.
Damions (author)  backyardengineer2 years ago
Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. A similar product to the one you posted is what actually inspired me to make this case.
Damions (author)  mikeasaurus2 years ago
Thank you for the compliment, and thank you for commenting! Those were great suggestions, so I added the dimensions of the case to step one where I described the materials. I also included a .dxf drawing of the metric cutouts, SAE cutouts, and labels for each wrench on step two. If anyone is interested I can publish the SolidWorks files I used to create the profiles for the wrenches.
putipa2 years ago
would you like to share your laser cutter ? :O(
Damions (author)  putipa2 years ago
hehehe I wish I could