Introduction: Tool Chest Organization With Vinyl Decals

About: YuKonstruct is a non-profit society which provides an enthusiastic community of makers and entrepreneurs affordable access to space, equipment and knowledge. This community serves to embrace the individual and…

Any personal workshop is more functional when tools are organized and easy to find! In a makerspace, it is even more important to make it quick and easy for members to both find, and put tools back in the same place they came from!

YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!

YuKonstruct runs a Repair Cafe on the fourth Friday of every month. The Repair Cafe is an opportunity for people to bring in their broken items to learn how to fix them. We've worked on everything from jewelry to a vintage geiger counter.

We obviously need a wide variety of tools and materials to fix whatever might be brought in the door. We had been keeping the supplies in a rolling Mastercraft tool chest, but it was getting to be a real mess and finding a particular item often required searching through every drawer.

The June Silhouette Build Night was a perfect opportunity to add a little organization to the Repair Cafe tool chest. Labeling the drawers with simple tool shapes was a piece of cake with the Silhouette Portrait and some adhesive vinyl. Now we have attractive and easy to understand organization system!

To do this, you will need:

  1. A tool box that you would like to organize
  2. Adhesive vinyl
  3. Transfer paper
  4. Access to a Silhouette Portrait cutter
  5. Access to a computer with Silhouette Studio Software (free download)
  6. Mild cleaner and cloth
  7. The tool shapes you would like to cut (in .gif form)

Step 1: Organize the Drawers and a Prepare a Cut File

First, we took everything out of the tool chest and sorted it. Items were grouped by type and put in the right sized drawers (i.e. small flat items in the little drawers and taller / larger items in the bigger drawers).

Once we were happy with the way it was organized, we looked online for icons to represent what supplies go where. We found the tool icons as .png graphics on the Noun Project website and imported them into the Silhouette Studio software.

Using the Studio software we used the 'trace' function to create the cut lines around each object so the Silhouette Portrait knew where to cut. Once it was traced, we were ready to start cutting.

We really appreciate the Noun Project for allowing access to such a vast array of icons. We'd like to ensure each individual creator is credited.

Noun Project Credits

Flashlight - Joris Hoogendoorn
Measuring tape - Nick Green
Multi-meter - Creative Stall
Stapler - Kelly Ness
Clamp - Scott Lewis
Tools - Aiden Rice
Magnifying glass - Fraser Ferguson
Soldering iron - Chris Pyper
Scissors - Cris Dobbins
Tools - Alban Champliau
Calipers - Sergey Krivoy

Step 2: Preparing and Cutting the Adhesive Vinyl

The proper settings were selected for cutting adhesive backed vinyl (see photo). The Silhouette Portrait blade was adjusted according to the number found on the "Cutting Settings" of the Portrait Studio software. Full blade adjustment instructions are available here.

A piece of vinyl was cut to fit on the cutting mat, and then loaded in the machine.

After it was cut, we removed the excess vinyl around the shapes.

Step 3: Apply Vinyl Decals & Enjoy!

We used transfer paper to apply the adhesive vinyl decals onto the freshly cleaned tool chest. We made sure to put the corresponding tool shaped decals into the drawer where we wanted that tool to be found. This helps members quickly be able to find out where to find that set of pliers they need!

TIP: Transfer paper, or transfer tape, is very helpful when applying adhesive vinyl, since it keeps all the pieces together at the correct spacing and prevents wrinkles and tears.

Once the tool shapes were applied they immediately made the (already great) tool chest that much more functional (and clean)! We've used it for a couple of weeks now and you are always able to find something when you're looking for it.

In the future we plan to make foam inserts for tools in each drawer so it will be easy to tell if anything is missing!

Before and After Contest

Participated in the
Before and After Contest