Picture of Light-Duty Custom Spools for ABS Plastic
Having just joined the Milwaukee Makerspace , I found a lot of interesting side-projects that needed tackling. It just so happens that I haven't done any wood-working since 10th grade, so many of these projects are experiments designed to reaffirm what I thought I knew and teach me a damned good lesson about what I never knew in the first place.

For this project, a couple of makers had some concerns about the ABS plastic filament for the Makerbot (3D printer; Cupcake version) being lightly coiled, zip-tied together, and strewn about the desk. In one instance, the filament kinked and a print got interrupted midway through.

After a brief discussion, I decided that this was worth tackling and I designed two projects: making spools for the filament and a spool holder to keep them above the desk and out of the way.

(Note: I'm including what I used here, but this is by no means the only way to do it. I used what I was familiar with and what we had on-hand. Your results may very. Consult physician before stopping project. Do not attempt on an empty stomach. Do not drive or operate other heavy machinery while attempting to drill, cut, screw, sand, or stain project. Have a nice day. Be kind, rewind. )

For this Instructable, you will need:
-A sheet of light, 1/4 inch plywood (I believe that a 2'x3' piece should work fine)
-Some narrow, heavy-duty cardboard tubing (this one came from a roll of plastic sheeting), 2 1/4" outer diameter, 1/4" thick
-JB Kwik (quick setting 2 part epoxy) AND a softer, two part epoxy. (I found that the JB Weld tacked things in place nicely, but I wanted something easier to mold so I could work it into the joints)
-A saw (I used a bandsaw here, but I suppose you could get the same result with a hand-held scroll saw)
-A disc sander (for smoothing out the plywood discs)
-A power drill (I used a drill press)
-A hole saw (Make generic, unfunny whole/hole homonym joke here)
-A compass (The exciting, circle-drawing kind, not the boring, magnetic kind)
-A beer (...As a reward for after you've finished the project. I do not condone drinking and operating power tools; this is how people end up in the ER with fence posts stapled to their face....)
kunselman.22 years ago
Any advice on actually spooling the filament easily?
MercuryCrest (author)  kunselman.22 years ago
Honestly, no. :D

I was toying with the notion of a treadle system so that you could basically tap your foot which would spin the wheel and you could guide the filament on with your (gloved!) hands, but it never got that far.

Let me know if you come up with something better!
joen3 years ago
Nice instructable. There are as many ways to make reels as there are readers of this site. I needed some reels and made mine from tin cans. I used a can opener that undoes the crimp on the lid rather than cutting it for the sides. Safer that way. Used a smaller can body for the inner part of the reel and stitched them together with paper clip wire. Hot glued the pointy ends of the paper clips and they are better than the store bought ones I have. I still like the way you made what you needed out of what you had on hand.

Well done, reels and instructable..
Picture 43.jpg
MercuryCrest (author)  joen3 years ago
Nice work.

It never actually occurred to me to use tin cans. I'm sure they're a lot stronger than what I used.

When you say that you, "Stitched them together with paper-clip wire," could you be a little more specific? I'm very curious as one of the biggest problems I had was figuring out how to secure the flanges to the inner part of the spool....I still don't entirely trust my epoxy. :)
I mean that quite literally. I made two holes on the lid on the inner and outer side of the body of the can and then made one hole right next to them on the inner can body then ran wire to tie them together. If you try to do that with yours I would suggest threading all the wires through the holes loosely first then tightening them down.
The pictures are a little fuzzy. (I used a 2.5X loupe on an eyeball web cam) Hopefully they are clear enough to see what I mean.
Hope this helps.
Picture 44.jpgPicture 46.jpg
MercuryCrest (author)  joen3 years ago
I see exactly what you mean.

If I had made holes perpendicular to each other, I could have done something similar.

Perhaps I'll try experimenting with other ways of making spools for more industrial use....
zazenergy3 years ago
Great Instructable!
MercuryCrest (author)  zazenergy3 years ago
Thank you, kindly. It's been a while since I've posted one, so I hope I haven't lost my touch.

I was also concerned about my use of biting sarcasm...no, I really wasn't. I was quite happy with it. :)