Introduction: Laser-cut QuickAccess Storage Unit

Picture of Laser-cut QuickAccess Storage Unit

The design studio space where I work always generates a lot of spare resources that can be used by others. Stationery, materials, papers, products are all in abundance. What was lacking was a common storage space where these surplus resources could be pooled in so that they could be used by others who needed them. This storage unit works as a display/storage space- you could use it in your study, or your closet. Each cuboidal unit can be arranged according to the makers choice forming multiple variations.

Step 1: Materials and Machines

Picture of Materials and Machines

Materials needed:

1. MDF sheets of the desired color.

The thickness of the MDF sheet is of importance since the design has locking parts. I have taken it to be 3 mm, and my laser cutting file is thus made on the basis of this dimension.

2. Zip Ties

3. Colours/ Stains (optional). I have used Asian Paints

4. Sandpaper - Finely grained

5. Roller

6. Masking tape

7. Spare sheets of newspaper to clean

8. A flat piece of plastic which serves as a palette for the paint roller.

9. Tissue Paper

10. A Set Square- or anything to provide a sturdy 90 degree

11. Fevi Quick

Machines needed:

1. A computer system: to edit laser cutting files

2. A jig saw (to cut the sheet into smaller parts- the max. fitting dimensions of a laser cutter are------

2. Laser Cutter

Step 2: Prepare Your MDF Sheets

Picture of Prepare Your MDF Sheets

MDF sheets usually come in very large sizes. Mine was an 8 feet by 4 feet sheet. My laser cutter could only take a 900 by 600 mm sheet. Which is why I had to cut my sheet to an appropriate size. Make sure your sheet is stored well and not bent/ wet. You can use a jig saw or a shearer to cut your sheet. Remember to use the cutting tools carefully!

Step 3: Prepare Your Laser Cutting File

Picture of Prepare Your Laser Cutting File

Since the box has a locking system between two plates, the thickness of the MDF sheet is of great importance while making the box drawing. I used Make a Box , an application where you have to just insert the basics dimensions you need and you get a ready drawing of the box. Apart from my dimensions, everything else in makeabox has been kept to default.

There are other websites available for making square boxes. Heres a list of few.

After the drawing was ready, I downloaded a pdf version and traced it on Rhino. I've deleted the two square faces of the cuboid since I wanted my storage to be see through. You can opt to keep one side shut and the other side open. I then added 5 mm dia holes in its corners.

The drawings have been arranged in a rectangle of 600 by 900 (my max laser cutter dimensions) to optimize space. Of course, further optimization is possible by placing them such that the length of plates are one laser cut path.

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I've uploaded the .3dm file that I have used. All dimensions are in mm.

Step 4: Laser Cutting Setup

Picture of Laser Cutting Setup

Align the MDF sheet to the top left corner of the laser cutter.

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Here are a few good tutorials on Laser Cutting presets.

10 Tips and tricks for laser cutting

Laser Cutting Settings

Some options for online laser cutting https://www.ponoko.com/

Step 5: Watch the Cutting

Picture of Watch the Cutting

Here's a step where you sit back and watch as the laser beam smoothly hovers over your sheet. Theres a light smeel of the burning MDF in the air. Be ready to collect your pieces!

Step 6: Mock Assembly

Picture of Mock Assembly

Yay this is the exciting part!

Start putting the plates together. Some might not fit properlu and you may have to sand them together.

To attach them together, use a masking tape. String through the zip line to check if the dia works.

Dissemble it once done.

Step 7: Test Out Your Paints

Picture of Test Out Your Paints

The colour combination I had in mind was. ^ The paints I've used are water soluble. Before usage, you can add a very small quantity of water and stir it. Direct usage is okay as well.

Try out swatches of paint on a spare sheet of cardboard. That will give an idea of how many coats of paint may be needed for a uniform look.

Keep spare newspaper sheets and a plastic palette the size of your roller to spread the paint on the roller.

Prepare the surface for paint. Wipe it with a piece of dry cloth to remove any dust.

Step 8: Roll On!

Picture of Roll On!

Apply equal amount of pressure on the roller and paint smoothly. Try to avoid the notches as the paint may cause a tolerence problem in the joints. To avoid painting the notches, I firmly held a sheet of card paper on the notches (you may need another helping hand at the start) and painted the rest of the surface.

Keep the plates to dry. They air dry in about 10 minutes. You can then decide if they need another coat of paint.

Step 9: Final Assembly Materials

Picture of Final Assembly Materials

YAY! It's time to assemble:

1. Coloured Plates

2. Zip Ties

3. Set Square

4. Fevi Quick

5. Masking Tape

6. Tissue paper (optional)

Step 10: Prepare a Guide for 90 Degree

Picture of Prepare a Guide for 90 Degree

To stick two plates together, you'll need a reference for the 90 degrees.

My way of achieving that was to stick a set square to the table with the help of masking tape. I then made sure that the tape touched the very edge of the set square and went into the small gap between the set square and the table.

You could use a square plate as a reference, or invent your own way. Get creative!

Step 11: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Hold two plates firmly at 90 degrees using the guide. You may need a helping hand in this step. Slowly apply glue from the topmost joint. Make sure the glue runs all along the inside edge where the two plates join.

Step 12: Glue Up Glue Down

Picture of Glue Up Glue Down

Repeat the process, except this time, you may have to hold all of it carefully and tightly. Put the assembled box to air dry. It should take about 10 minutes for it to completely dry and stick together.

Step 13: Reapply the Tape (if Needed)

Picture of Reapply the Tape (if Needed)

The fevi quick may drip down to the set square. if the box gets stuck to the tape, you may have to change it. The final box will look something like the picture attached.

Step 14: Clean the Edges

Picture of Clean the Edges

After the box has dried, you may want to run the sandpaper on the edge where the glue has escaped and hardened. I've sanded the inside and the outside to clear away any roughness. This step is important if you want to stain or lacquer the surface.

Step 15: Extra Step:

Picture of Extra Step:

I thought I was done with all the painting but I changed my mind after making the boxes. I decided to paint one of them yellow to give that De Stijl look. The problem with painting after the box has been assembled and stuck is that you can't reach all the inside corners, even with a small roller. Also, the paint doesn't sit on all the surfaces where the glue has been applied.

Step 16: Lacquer and Zip-tie

Picture of Lacquer and Zip-tie

Laquer

Laquer hardens the surface and makes it waterproof to some extent. MDF soaks in lacquer so that it doesn't look very shiny. I applied one coat of lacquer and kept it for air drying. It's best to leave it overnight. You might want to run the sandpaper on the lacquered surface once to make it nice and smooth. Do not sand painted surface.

Zip-Tie

Last step! Arrange the units however you like and zip tie them. Cut off the excess part of the zip-tie and viola! Your storage unit is ready.


Step 17: Oh the Possibilities!

Picture of Oh the Possibilities!

You can arrange the units according to the space available or as you'd like them to be. Happy making!

Comments

The Electrobot (author)2017-09-04

A very clean and neat method to make boxes.

Board cutout pattern in the MDF sheet could be optimised to reduce wastage and minimise the cut length.

dlong_ (author)2017-08-27

Folks who live in the US can use "Super glue" or "Krazy glue" or any cyanoacrylate for assembly. (Feviquick is a European product: I have never seen it here in the States."

Also for US folks,your local Home Depot/Lowes is unlikely to stock 3mm but you will have equal results with 1/8" MDF and they will likely size it for you in the store if you know the max size of your laser cutter.

Extra bonus for using "activator" during assembly to force the cyanoacrylate glue to dry faster! And if you want extra strength consider adding a back to your new cubbies or at least a "back stretcher" that's 6 or 8 cm high across the back, to provide extra strength against the shear forces collapsing your box diagonally.

h_paralikar (author)dlong_2017-08-28

Absolutely agree. Thank you for the global perspective on resources @dlong_ ! :)

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-08-27

This would probably be a lot cheaper and more sturdy than any of the box shelves that you would find in a store.

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