Introduction: Using Autodesk Inventor to Create a Notched Wood Construction (Jeweler's Bench Tool Holder)

As I spend a lot of my creating time on making jewelry, my jeweler's bench gets covered in tools so I needed more storage space for my tools. So I designed this tool holder in Inventor and as doing it I thought it would be good to share some of the techniques I used in the design process. So here it is.

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Step 1: Initial Design

The first step was to design the tool holder in Inventor. Each piece will be cut from 1/4 inch piece of wood with a laser cutter. For this we need to design each piece as a separate Inventor part.

Step 2: Assemble the Pieces

After the pieces are modeled they need to be assembled to help define where to cut the notches. The image provided shows how each piece is overlapped during the assembly.

Step 3: Add a Parameter for Kerf

As I mentioned we will be cutting the pieces out using a laser cutter so we need to keep the Kerf in mind when adding the notches. For more information on Kerf see this Instructable. For each piece we will add a parameter to adjust the tab size on the fly. To add the parameter select the "Manage" Tab. Once the Parameter dialog box is up add a parameter named Kerf and set the value to the Kerf of the laser cutter being used to cut the pieces.

Step 4: Add Notches

When adding the notches draw the notches with construction lines first. After adding the construction geometry outline the construction geometry with regular geometry and add a dimension between the construction geometry and regular geometry make the dimension value the parameter Kerf. This will allow the adjustment of the Kerf by simply changing the parameter. 

Step 5: Layout the Pieces for Cutting

Using an Inventor drawing place a flat view of each piece needed to be cut on the drawing sheet.

Step 6: Saving the Layout

Once the layout is created the file needs to be saved in a format that can be opened in Corel Draw. To do this from the Inventor idw, you need to do a "Save Copy As". Once the the "Save Copy As" dialog box appears you need to change the Save as type to "*.dxf". To make the import into Corel Draw easier click the options button and change the File Version to "AutoCAD 2000/LT 2000 DXF"

Step 7: Determine the Kerf for the Laser Cutter

Determine the Kerf for your laser cutter using this Instructable as a reference. Once you know your Kerf adjust the Kerf parameter in each Inventor part. Open the layout idw file and it will automatically update so all you need to do is save out the file as a dxf.

Step 8: Cut the Pieces

Import the dxf file into Corel Draw and cut the pieces out.

Step 9: Assemble the Holder

Assemble the tool holder by tapping the pieces together with a rubber mallet if need be. If the pieces don't fit together tightly you can add a little glue to each piece as you assemble them.

Step 10: Use the Tool Holder

Simply apply the tool holder to the bench and add tools. As you can see I need the room.

Comments

author
0rel (author)2014-01-22

Great, exactly what I want to learn more about right now - thanks for sharing!

author
violator83 (author)2013-06-16

Ok, installed inventor, I made all parts I need for my project by simple forms and extrusion but now that I try to assemble them to this stage I'm really getting mad. How have I to do to join parts to obtain a thing like this.

author
togo1919 (author)2013-01-23

Tom-
I'm trying to import a box design to Inventor, then modify the tab length for all tabs, based on the thickness of the material. (plastic, plywood, mdf, etc) I'm using Boxmaker to create a pdf for the box design.

I can get the pdf to dwg okay and import to Inventor just fine.
Any guidance on how to set up constraints (or another method) so I can modify my drawings easily/quickly based on tab size? (shorter tabs for thinner material and longer tabs for thicker material)
Thanks,
TG

author
TomCloss (author)togo19192013-01-25

The short answer is, to use a linked spreadsheet. I have a feeling you might need more than one variable. I could have done this for this particular project but seeing as I was only using one variable, I didn't. From the manage tab in inventor you can select parameters. Use the "Link" button in the parameter dialog box to link each part to the same spread sheet.

A couple of thoughts I have is the number of notches may need to change. This means you might have to redraw the sketch and apply the notches using an array. Also be careful when adding assembly constraints. You don't want to add a constraint to a notch or feature that might not be there if you change the thickness. Just my two cents.

author
togo1919 (author)TomCloss2013-01-28

Thanks for the guidance. I made big advances this weekend on the design - using a total of 5 variables - material thickness, box inside width, box inside height, box inside depth, tab width.

I'm definitely feeling better about constraints - I'm sure I'll be learning plenty more about them...

author
Penolopy Bulnick (author)2013-01-17

Nice technique and the holder looks great :) You should enter this into the Holiday Gifts Contest!

author

Thanks for the encouragement. I don't think I am disqualified from entering contests since I work for Autodesk Consulting by day.

author
togo1919 (author)2013-01-14

I'm devoting lots of time this month to getting into the 3D realm with Inventor. Thank you for the timely posting!

author
wilwrk4tls (author)2013-01-11

I have a couple of ideas to maybe help simplify the parameter changing:
1) create an empty skeleton file with the parameter Kerf in it, and in all of your part files create a linked parameter, linking to the empty skeleton file's Kerf parameter. Then you can change the Kerf in the skeleton file and it will update in all the part files.

2) Create all the different parts in one part file, with extrusions set to create a new solid when you need a new part. You can use one parameter for Kerf inside that part file, even accross new solids. Once all the parts are modeled, use "Make Components" and export the solids into a new assembly. They will all update at once when you make changes in the base part.

That's somewhat simplified as far as going through the process, but I have found it very helpful (method 2) when constructing assemblies that require a lot of common fastening locations, etc. because Inventor usually crashes when projecting geometry across parts in an assembly. It allows you to use all of the parameters in one part file for an entire assembly of parts since they are all created from one part originally.

author
TomCloss (author)wilwrk4tls2013-01-12

These are great suggestions. I've used similar techniques in larger assemblies. Thanks for the suggestions.

author
audreyobscura (author)2013-01-10

Wow, that came out really nicely! Would you be willing to share your laser cutter files in this instructable? Thanks!

author
TomCloss (author)audreyobscura2013-01-10

Sure, here is the inventor files so someone can adjust the Kerf as needed. If someone wants a Corel Draw version or a DXF please let me know and I'll create them and post them as well