Introduction: Modular Workstation

Picture of Modular Workstation

What if you had a workstation that was reconfigurable from the ground up? That's exactly what this workstation seeks to do, make a unit that can be quickly customised for specific project needs. The reason I made this unit is that I don't have a traditional workbench which I can use so I keep moving from one place to another. It's extremely painful to move individual components, and even of I do, I often lose something on the way. I made this workstation to try and solve those problems.

A run-through of the configurations :

1. Base configuration - you get a large box with a screwdriver set and a hammer. It's big enough to fit two circular saws and have some space left over.

2. Large modules - two of these can be placed in the box at any time. There are four in total, the jigsaw module, the drill module, the carpentry module and the electronics module.

3. Smaller modules - three of these can be placed in the box along with any two larger modules. These have removable dividers so they can be used either for small parts or for keeping slightly larger items like an arduino or a raspberry pi.

For more posts and build videos like this, visit my blog @ raghavanand98.wordpress.com. Cheers!

Step 1: Tools and Material Required

Picture of Tools and Material Required

Tools marked with a * are necessary. Anyplace where an 'or' is used, I have used the first option while the second option can be substituted for it. All the prices indicated are the INR prices I got the parts at converted to dollars. The parts for which prices aren't included are those that you should have before attempting this project! I also haven't included prices for items which go in the modules as this could vary based on the parts you procure.

Tools and Parts for constructing the Boxes- total cost: 21$

1. Drill*
2. Circular saw* (or) handsaw (and a lot of patience!)
3. Jigsaw* (or) chisel
4. Mandrel bit* (5/8 inner, 1 1/2 outer, 1 1/4 outer)- 2$

5. Wood Glue*

6. Clamps*

7. Wooden handle* - 1$

8. Padlock *- 1$

9. 8 x 1" hinges- 2$

10. 2 x 2 1/2" hinges- 2$

11. One inch screws (preferably self-drilling)- 10$

12. Velcro- 20$

13. 10x 10mm hooks- 1$

14. Small metal angles (picture given above)- 2$

NOTE: The parts not starred are ways that I have put the box together and items in it. If you have better ideas for attaching items to the box, you can substitute them in those steps.  

Materials(everything here is necessary)- total cost: 35$

1. 1/4 inch thick plywood - 6 ft x 3 ft- 15$

2. 1/2 inch thick plywood - 6 ft x 3 ft- 15$

3. Aluminium angle - 1 ft- 5$


 

Step 2: Sourcing the Parts

The most important rule of thumb while sourcing your parts is to ensure that they are all small. The smaller the parts are, the more room you will have inside your workstation. I got my parts from local hardware stores and sites like adafruit and electroncomponents, but using your local electronic stores should be fine as well.

Items inside the boxes(everything here is necessary)

1. Screwdriver set
2. Hammer
3. Drill
4. Jigsaw
5. Carpentry :
a. Chisel (with the bottom and top separate)
b. X-acto knife or a blade
c. Measuring tape
d. Geometry box
e. Dremel 7700

6. Electronics :
a. Multimeter
b. Battery eliminator
c. Wires and solder
d. Soldering iron
e. Desoldering pump
f. Small parts holder (http://www.adafruit.com/products/796#tutorials%5D)
g. Wire cutter

Step 3: Building the First Two Modules

Picture of Building the First Two Modules

1. Measure out your drill and jigsaw. I used a KS600e jigsaw and a corded drill of about the same size. Both of these fit on to an A4 sheet quite easily, so my measurements were easy to make. I made the modules for the drill and jigsaw the same size.

2. Cut out the following pieces from 1/4 inch plywood
A. 2 no.s (28 cm x 25 cm)

3. On these two pieces, cut out holes for handles using your jigsaw.

3. Cut out the following pieces from 1/2 inch plywood
A. 2 no.s (23.8 cm x 10 cm)
B. 1 no (10 cm x 28 cm)

5. Follow the pictures and make a box of dimensions (28x25x10 cm). Use one inch screws to hold it in place. Use enough screws, it has to hold a reasonably heavy weight.

6. After you make one box, make sure that both the drill and the jigsaw fit in comfortably. Only once this is satisfied, move on to the next step.

7. Repeat the process to make another box.



Step 4: Finishing the First Two Modules

Picture of Finishing the First Two Modules

1. Once both the boxes are built, recheck whether the drill and jigsaw fit well in both.

2. You should have a bit of extra room on either end of both the boxes where the tools taper down a bit. This is where the accessories for both will be stored.

3. Cut out a 10cm part of the aluminium angle and close it at the bottom with a piece of wood.

4. Attach this to the inner edge of one box on any one corner using screws. This is where drill bits and jigsaw blades will be kept.

5. Ensure that both the drill and jigsaw still fit inside the box.

6. Then repeat the step for the second box. You should end up with something like what is there in the pictures. Your first two modules are done! Go take a break, you've earned it!

Step 5: Building the Frames of the Next Two Modules

Picture of Building the Frames of the Next Two Modules

1. Cut the following from 1/4 inch plywood
A. 1 no. (25 cm x 28 cm) - FIXED SIDE
B. 1 no. (23.8 cm x 28 cm) - LARGE HINGED SIDE

2. Make holes for holding the box using a jigsaw on these two pieces.

3. Cut the following pieces from 1/2 inch plywood
A. 2 no.s (25 cm x 10 cm) - SMALL HINGED SIDE
B. 1 no. (28 cm x 10 cm) - BASE

4. Using one inch screws, attach the fixed side to the base along the 28 cm edge.

5. Using two 1" hinges, attach the large hinged side to the base along the 28 cm edge.

6. Using one 1" hinge, attach the small hinged side to the base along the 10 cm edge. Repeat the process on the other side.

7. For the locking mechanism, a slit has to be made along the small hinged side, on the portion parallel to the 25 cm edge and facing the large hinged side. This will be where the mechanix angle will be fixed.

8. Now close the small hinged sides and then insert the small metal angle into the slit. Once this is done, put some quick-glue on the top arts of the angle. Quickly close the large hinged side on to the small metal angles. Once the glue has dried, lift the large hinged side up. This is your locking mechanism.

Now to lock the box, all you have to do is close the small hinged sides and then the large hinged side. This will automatically recent any of the sides from falling out.

9. Once the process works with one box, make another one.

Step 6: Finishing the Carpentry Module

Picture of Finishing the Carpentry Module

The pictures above show what will go into the carpentry box and how they will be attached in there. All the work below should be done in one of the modules you made in step 5.

1. Use your mandrel drill bit (5/8" inner, 1 1/4" outer) and cut three circular pieces out of 1/2" wood. The bottoms of your chisel should fit inside these quite well. Use a dremel to cut one part of the circles flat, so that it can easily be attached to the box.

2. The first two circular pieces will be used to keep the chisel bottoms, while the third one will hold the top part of the chisel. To make this, put a 2" bolt through the 5/8" hole and tighten it with a nut and a washer on the other side.

3. Attach the dremel to the centre of the fixed piece using Velcro. Attach the geometry box to the small hinged side also using Velcro.

4. Go take a break! The Velcro adhesive has to dry and this would be a good stopping point.

5. Once the Velcro has dried, use wood glue and clamps to attach the circular mandrel cut pieces to the fixed side of the module above the dremel.

6. Cut a piece of 1/2" wood with an opening which can accommodate your blade. My blade was tapering, so when I inserted it in the opening, the fit was quite tight. Once your blade fits snugly in, attach this piece to the other 1/2 inch side using wood glue.

7. Above the geometry box, attach a small box made out of 1/2 inch wood using wood glue. This will hold sandpaper.

8. After this, use screw in a 10 mm hook above the blade holder. The measuring tape will be kept over here.


Your carpentry module is done! You've finished over 50% of the project!

Step 7: Finishing the Electronic Module

Picture of Finishing the Electronic Module



The pictures above show what will go into the electronics box and how they will be attached in there. All the work below should be done in one of the modules you made in step 5. 

1. Attaching the soldering iron and the Desoldering pump should be quite easy. Take a piece of 1/2" wood and cut it to 5 cm x 1 cm. In this, drill two holes using spade bits of size 12 and 22. My Desoldering pump had a notch which allowed me to put the pump inside and have it stay still. Above the metallic part of the soldering iron, it gets broader, which lets you slide it into a hole quite easily.

2. Next, use a size 10 spade bit to drill a hole in a piece of 1/2" wood of 2 cm x 1 cm. your wire cutters should fit inside this. Mine were tapering as they went outward and so fit quite snugly here. Attach this to the bottom of one of the small hinged side.

3. Attach your battery eliminator with Velcro to the top of your small hinged side. This will let you remove it and use it.

4. Attach the multimeter with Velcro on the large hinged side (next to the small hinged side with the wire cutters). Make sure that the battery eliminator won't hit the multimeter when the box is closed. To do this, first close the small hinged side and then attach the multimeter in the appropriate position.

5. Next to the multimeter, use Velcro once again to attach the small parts holder for the electronics kit. Make sure you leave enough space for the soldering iron and Desoldering pump.

6. Now glue on the piece you made in the beginning next to the small parts holder using wood glue. While gluing this piece on, ensure that the height is appropriate and the neither the soldering iron nor the Desoldering pump stick out the top.

7. Finally, making spools for the wires and solder. First, use the mandrel drill bit (5/8th inner, 1 1/4" outer) to cut five circles in 1/2" wood. Then use another mandrel bit (5/8th inner, 1 1/2" outer) and cut five pieces in 1/4" plywood. Now attach the two together and to the other small hinged side using wood glue. This will be your wire spool.


All your large modules are done! Go take another well-earned break!

Step 8: Building the Small Modules

Picture of Building the Small Modules

1. Now to make the small modules. Using 1/2" wood, cut out the following pieces

A. 1 no. (20 cm x 12 cm)
B. 2 no.s (20 cm x 6 cm)
C. 2 no.s (9.8 cm x 6 cm)

2. Now place these pieces to form a box of outer dimensions (20cm x 12cm x 7.2cm). This will be the small box module. I used screws to hold everything in place but wood glue and nails should work just as well. The reason I use screws so much is that I like to be able to take things apart as well.

These modules will hold either very small parts like screws and nails (which will stay in place with the dividers we make next), or slightly larger parts like an Arduino and a breadboard.

3. Once you successfully make one of these modules, go ahead and make two more.

That's it! You've finished 70% of the work!

Step 9: Making the Dividers

Picture of Making the Dividers

The dividers are relatively simple to make.
1. First, cut the following pieces from 1/4" plywood:
A. 1 no. (17.5 cm x 6 cm) - LARGE PIECE
B. 2 no.s (9.5 cm x 6 cm) - SMALL PIECE

2. Then use a jigsaw and make the following cuts-
A. A 3 cm long cut on the large piece 5.6 cm in along the 17.5 cm edge. This cut should be 1/4" wide.

B. Another 3 cm long, 1/4" wide cut 5.6 cm from the other end of the same large piece.

C. A 3 cm long, 1/4" wide cut at the centre of the small piece.

3. Now the 3 pieces should fit together quite easily as shown in the picture. Use glue and seal this is place. Make sure the divider fits snugly in all the three small modules.

4. Once one working divider is made, make two more for the other two boxes.

All your internal components are now ready!

Step 10: Making the Large Box

Picture of Making the Large Box

This is the home stretch!

1. Using 1/2" plywood, cut the following pieces
A. 2 no.s (50 cm x 24 cm)
B. 2 no.s (24 cm x 24 cm)
C. 2 no.s (47.6 cm x 24 cm)

3. Arrange the pieces in an open box formation with one of the (50 cm x 24 cm) pieces left unused. Attach these together with screws. Use a lot of them, the box WILL be heavy.

4. Now attach two 10 mm hooks one above the other on one of the (24 x 24) sides of the box. About 5 cm away from these hooks on the same side, screw in another 10 mm hook. Follow the pictures to see how the hammer and screwdriver kit fit on these hooks.

5. Attach the side which was left unused to the open box using hinges. Also attach a padlock and make sure it shuts tightly.

6. Check that all the modules fit inside well and then proceed to the LAST step in making the box!

7. Attach the handle to the top of the box.

That's it! Your entire box is now fully functional!

Step 11: Sanding and Painting All the Modules

Picture of Sanding and Painting All the Modules

If you're wondering why I left sanding and painting so late, it's because I value functionality over aesthetics in a project like this. At the end of the day, this is a workstation, and it is more useful when it works well than when it looks good. That being said, sanding the surfaces is a must, if not for aesthetics, at least to avoids splinters. Painting is not necessary, but a coat of polyeurathane does help in ensuring that the boxes last longer. Finally, I colour coded my boxes just so that they would look better when places inside. When painting, it's better to take everything apart and paint it well. That's why I used screws throughout the project.

Your workstation is finished!

Step 12: Using the Workstation!

The idea of this workstation is to embrace all sides of the maker movement and allow you to take your woodworking, arduino and electronics kits wherever you want! With great power comes great responsibility! Use it well!

1. Base configuration - you get a large box with a screwdriver set and a hammer. It's big enough to fit two circular saws and have some space left over. This is ideal for projects where you just need a box to throw all your equipment in.

2. Large modules - two of these can be placed in the box at any time. There are four in total, the jigsaw module, the drill module, the carpentry module and the electronics module. These are extremely useful for most projects as they contain items for woodworking and electronics.

3. Smaller modules - three of these can be placed in the box along with any two larger modules. These have removable dividers so they can be used either for small parts or for keeping slightly larger items like an arduino or a raspberry pi.

Comments

teoietic (author)2014-12-22

first!!!:-) :-) :-) :-) great work , you could add some weeks and an extendable stick to make it easier , for when you have a lot of tools inside , but great work!!

raghav_anand98 (author)teoietic2014-12-22

Thanks a lot! I think an extendable stick is a great idea! I didn't exactly understand what you meant by the first part of the suggestion though, so if you could please clarify that :D

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