Wood and Magnet Socket Holder





Introduction: Wood and Magnet Socket Holder

Tired of your sockets rolling around in your drawer?  Or do you use one of those socket racks with the spring steel clips that invariably are too loose or too tight (especially for 1/4" sockets)?  Try making one of these wooden socket holders with an integrated magnet to keep your sockets where they belong.  As a bonus you can mark the socket sizes on the side of the holder in a font that is actually large enough to be legible as you age with your tools...

I made this at TechShop  www.techshop.ws

Step 1: Materials & Equipment

Vector drawing software (I used CorelDraw)
Laser cutter (my TechShop has a Trotec Speedy 300)
1/2" thick 2" x 8" poplar board
1/4" thick 2" x 16" walnut board
16" of 1/2" wide magnetic strip
5 minute epoxy
150 grit sandpaper
Spray acrylic

This instructable assumes some basic familiarity with CorelDraw and a laser cutter.

Step 2: Design the Main Body

First measure the diameter of each of the sockets.  Draw a circle for each of the sockets, adding 0.02" to each diameter.  This will let the sockets drop in easily while still keeping them from moving around too much.  Make sure you are using a red line set to hairline width so that the laser cutter will know these are meant to be cut lines, not engraved lines.

Now move each of the circles onto the same horizontal line, with a 0.1" gap between each circle.  You can determine the center to center distance by adding the diameter of the two adjacent circles, dividing that by two, then adding 0.1".  Because I had both 6 point and 12 point sockets I duplicated the entire row above the first row, with a 0.1" vertical gap between the biggest sockets.  It turns out that a 5/32" 12 point 1/4" drive socket is pretty rare (and my set didn't include one).  So I replaced that socket location with my 3/8" to 1/4" adapter.

Finally, draw a rectangle around the socket holes.  For a little more visual interest, I added 1/4" radius scalloped corners.

Step 3: Design the Base

All of the sections will be the same shape, so start by making a copy of the main body design.  The magnetic strips will be embedded in the top of the base (so that they will be flush with the socket holes in the main body).  Using the socket holes as a guide, draw two black rectangles where the magnetic strips will go.  The magnetic strips are 1/2" wide, so make the rectangles 0.54" wide so they won't have an interference fit.  Then delete the circles and fill the rectangle with black (use black to indicate that these rectangles will be engraved rather than cut).

Step 4: Create the Socket Size Text

Although the text will be engraved on the side of the main body, start by adding the dimensions on top of each circle.  These are each a simple text box, with a black line drawn to create the fraction.  Then delete the circles and outer rectangle.  Finally, draw a rectangle around the entire group of text that is the length of the main body.  This will make it a little easier to align the text on the wood when using the laser cutter.  Use a different color such as blue so that it will neither be engraved nor cut.

Step 5: Laser Cut the Pieces

Laser time!  All three pieces cut well at 100% power and 0.25% speed.  Although the walnut is much thinner than the poplar, it is harder to cut thus the same laser settings.  To create the cavities in the base piece of walnut, make multiple engraving passes until the rectangles are deep enough to let the magnetic strips sit flush in them.  In my case it took 4 passes at 100% power and 30% speed.

Step 6: Sand Everything

Make a first pass at sanding all of the pieces.  It is important to completely sand the burned surface off the middle body portion where the text will go.  It takes a fair amount of effort to clear that off, and you would risk damaging the engraving if you had to sand it off after.  You can do the sanding by hand, but it is much quicker if you have access to a bench top belt sander.  The photo shows all three pieces rough sanded (I forgot to take a picture of the middle section before engraving, but I did sand it first).

Step 7: Laser Engrave the Socket Sizes

Stand the middle section of the body on its side in the laser cutter (I propped it up against another piece of wood to keep it stable).  Now engrave the text onto the side of the body.  The engraving worked well at 100% power and 30% speed.

Step 8: Epoxy All of the Pieces Together

Although the magnetic strips have an adhesive strip on their backs, and the magnetic strips will be partially sandwiched between the base and the main body, I decided to epoxy them in as well.  Mix a small puddle of 5 minute epoxy and spread it along all of the outer edges of each cavity.  Press the magnets in and hold for five minutes.  Be careful not to get any epoxy on your fingers.  I flipped the base over onto a piece of parchment paper and pressed down until it hardened.  Then epoxy the poplar middle piece on top of the base, then finally the walnut top onto that assembly.

Step 9: Sand, Seal, Sand, and Seal Some More

Now sand all of the sides until there is no overhang between the three layers of wood.  Now apply a coat of spray polyurethane, let it dry, sand again, spray again, and repeat until you are happy with the finish.

Step 10: All Done!

Now gather up your pile of sockets and put them in your new holder.  The magnetic strips are not very strong, but will help keep the sockets from accidentally popping out when bumped or jostled.  As you can see, they are just strong enough to hold the relatively small 1/4" drive sockets upside down if you are careful.  For larger sockets either use stronger magnets (if you want to invert your holder for some reason), or just accept that the magnets will help keep them in place for normal use.  Enjoy!



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    Looks beautiful and nice directions. Unfortunately it's not much of a DIY project if very, very few people have a laser cutter. It may as well be a CNC machine or a water jet. Maybe a good old drill press will do the job.

    I agree. It seems a lot of the projects found here lately involve CNC or laser cutters, or other gadgets that do all the work for you. I don't consider that workmanship at all. While the finished product here looks awesome, I'd rather see it made with a drill press, band saw, etc.

    I respectfully disagree. Laser cutters and CNC machines are just tools. They aren't magical devices but actually take a lot of skill, technique and perseverance to master. Yes, they make some tasks easier but it's a whole new skill set. Someone could argue a drill press or band saw is cheating and that one should really use a handsaw and chisel to provide true workmanship. I've built my own CNC machine and it's not magical. I understand the sentiment but this is an age old position that started with the industrial revolution. Laser cutters and CNC machines will only open up new ways of artistic expression and provide a bridge for students to learn new skills including the use of a drill press and band saw.

    I work in the manufacturing industry running CNC equipment and am trained as a manual machinist and I have to disagree. CNC equipment takes very little skill to operate, only knowledge. Anyone can be taught how to run a CNC, but manually doing things takes a feel that not all people have, similar to how some people can draw and others can't.

    I hate seeing people use complicated but easy to use tools to make simple items, where using hand tools and a little manual labor would result in the same end product, but with more value.

    That being said, great instructable!

    <i>CNC equipment takes very little skill to operate, only knowledge</i>.

    my point, put far more succintly. thinking and studying produce intelligence. action and experience produce wisdom. they are equally necessary, and neither is a substitute for the other. to confuse one for the other is often the source of many horrible accidents in industry.

    Anyone can *operate* a cnc machine. Our new guy (ged, never worked in a shop before) is decent after a half day of training. Setting up a cnc machine, programming it, troubleshooting, optimising, etc is not so easy. You have to have machinist and computer skills. Anyone who thinks starting with an idea in your head and ending up with perfect parts being ripped out at high speed on a cnc machine is easy, has never done it (or is a god among men, one or the other). But any amature woodworker could build this with a drill press, a table saw or band saw, and hand tools. I'd use the scroll saw i got for $20 at a yard sale, but that takes a little more skill and time (for a little nicer finished part). Technically, i have the tools and skills to build this with no power tools... but i wouldn't unless someone was paying top dollar for true hand-craftsmanship.

    Everyone can draw. Most just do not think that they can. Get a book called, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and work through it conscientiously. I guarantee by the time you're done with it you'll be drawing better than you ever imagined that you could. That book will blow your mind! I can just about guarantee that too. It might even permanently alter your perception of yourself, and the rest of the world too. It is some freaky stuff.


    I've read another of her books, and meh, not as good as right side. I've read Nicolaides The Natural Way to Draw too, and it is essentially the same stuff, but much more drawn out. I have to recommend Right Side over it, as I feel the material is presented better there. But if Right Side leaves you looking for more then try The Natural Way, because it is a much longer course. So more is certainly what it has to offer.

    Just bought it. Thank you sir.

    Well let me know how it works for you. I have to say it certainly surprised me.

    The machines may be easy to use with a little know-how, I was speaking to the fact that most people don't have a $20k+ machine in their garage/workshop.

    Maybe it's just me but I see inscrutable's as being meant for DIY projects that can be completed for cheaper than buying a similar commercially sold product. Very few people work at a shop where a laser cutter is available for personal use.

    As nice as the finished product is, I would gladly pay a decent price for a few of them made via laser cutter or take time and make one on a drill press. I've seen cribbage boards that look similar that were made with a drill press so I know it's doable.