Introduction: Ultimate Battery Management Station
It seemed like half the time I went to that shoe box size plastic bin overflowing with batteries and their respective packaging, much of which was carelessly left behind and empty, I would find 3 of the particular size when I needed 4. Sometimes, I would find a dead battery in the box which was even more frustrating and I was amazed at how fast my family seemed to be going through batteries. I later discovered that my children were generously supplying most of the kids in the neighborhood with their battery needs. Not that I minded occasionally helping one of the kids get their toy up and going again, but I hadn’t meant to start a regular service.
There were some various battery organizers on the market and a few plans out there, but I wanted to create a battery station that not only organized my batteries, but provided a central and convenient charging station as well. I also wanted to be reminded when I turned out the lights at night if I had any batteries charging that needed to be unplugged. Therefore I created what I call a battery management station that organized my alkaline and rechargeable batteries, housed my chargers and cables, provided a central place to charge various batteries, and lit up to remind me that something was charging. It features a see through door so I can see how many batteries I have, power strip with USB outlets, storage compartments for chargers or cables, a small drawer for odd size batteries, a shelf to rest things on while being charged them and a battery testing meter.
On this project I was utilizing materials I had laying around purchasing only a small piece of plexiglass, a power strip and a small light rope kit I happened to find on sale. First I cut the top and bottom frame members of the battery storage unit using 1x3. The top is cut to a length of 23 ¼” and the bottom is cut to 13”. I then mark off the location of the 8 vertical members cut to a length of 12 ½”. (Fig. 1)
In order for the batteries to all line up at the front ofthe storage organizer, it is necessary to cut spacers that will fit in the back of the compartments. Utilizing small pieces of scrap, I used a thickness planer to achieve the correct dimensions but this could also be easily done with a table saw. (Fig. 2 & 3)
The spacing for the battery compartments is as follows with ¾” between for each vertical member. Also included are the thicknesses of the rear spacers.
· Alkaline D – 1 7/8” * no spacer * Capacity: 10
· Alkaline C – 1 1/2” * 1/2" thick spacer * Capacity: 13
· Alkaline 9 volt – 1” * 1/2" thick spacer * Capacity: 18
· Alkaline AA – 3/4" * 1/2" thick spacer * Capacity: 24
· Alkaline AAA – 5/8” * 3/4" thick spacer * Capacity: 38
· Rechargeable AA – 5/8” * 1/2" thick spacer * Capacity: 20
· Rechargeable AAA – 1/2" * 3/4" thick spacer * Capacity: 30
I now needed to prepare the vertical members of the battery storage area starting with finger holes at the bottom. I used a quarter to mark the bottoms making sure to enlarge the 2 on either side of the D batteries. After rough cutting with a band saw (Fig. 4), I cleaned it up with a spindle sander. (Fig. 5 & 6)
At the top of each vertical member, except for the one on the far left because it would be the outside frame, I used a ¾” forstner bit to drill a hole along the very top for the light rope to slip through. (Fig. 7)
The far left vertical member would need to be mortised for the 2 hinges. This was achieved with a hand chisel. (Fig. 8 & 9)
The far right vertical member needed to be mortised for a pair of magnets that would hold the door closed. This was also done with a hand chisel. (Fig. 10 & 11)
One last detail for the vertical members was to use a ½” forstner bit to drill a shallow recess in the second to the right vertical member. This will provide clearance for the screw that holds the knob on the plexiglass door. (Fig. 12)
The bottom of the battery organizer was beveled to provide access and easier removal of the batteries. I used a jointer, but a hand plane would easily do the job. (Fig. 13)
At this point, the rest of the cabinet pieces needed to be cut. Left side of the cabinet below the organizer was cut from a 1x3 to a length of 6”. The right side 1x3 of the cabinet was cut to a length of 20” and a 1 ½” hole was drilled near the top to allow the plug from the power strip to pass through. (Fig. 14) A piece of ¾” x ¾” wood was cut to a length of 10 ¼” to serve as a valance hiding the light rope on the right side.
The bottom shelf assembly was made from 5 pieces of 1x3 cut to a length of 4 ½” to server as the dividers. The 2 shelves are 24” long 1x6. I used a belt sander to round over the corners. (Fig. 15) Finally the back of the unit is a piece of ¼” plywood cut 24” wide and 24 ¼” tall.
The last part that needed to be prepared was the door. The door is simply a piece of 1/8” thick plexiglass cut 13” wide and 11 3/4” tall. What appears to be the frame is really just some decorative trim. I mitered 4 pieces of half round molding to match the outside dimension of the plexiglass. I pre-drilled holes for the hinges and a few to attach the molding with screws, making sure to match some of the screw holes with the magnets. (Fig. 16) Finally, I pre-drilled a hole for the knob lining it up with the relief hole I drilled in the second to the right vertical member of the battery organizer. All of the holes except for the knob were widened with a countersink bit.
After Sanding and painting, it is time to start assembly. Since I was using mostly screws and nails, I masked the areas where the parts would be in contact so the glue would be bonding to bare wood. I did not mask the back because I attached that with screws. (Fig. 17)
I started by locating and screwing in the top shelf using #8 – 1 ½” wood screws. (Fig. 18) Since I was using a pneumatic nailer on finished material, I wanted as few exposed nail heads as possible. That is why I started in the middle and worked my way out.
The lower left side and the right side were installed with the same screws through the back. Where the sides make contact with the shelf, I used glue and 18 gauge 1 ½” finish nails. (Fig. 19)
Next I assembled the battery organizer separately by shooting nails through the vertical members into the back spacers in order to conceal a majority of the nail heads. I started with the right vertical member and worked my way to he left. The exposed side on the left did not have a spacer adjacent to it so no nail heads are visible to the side. The vertical members were also glued and nailed through the top and bottom. (Fig. 20 & 21)
Once the battery organizer was fully assembled, I attached it to the back with some #8 – 1 ½” wood screws through the back and a few 18 gauge 1 ½” finish nail through the right side. (Fig. 22)
The bottom shelf and dividers were then installed with screws and nails in the same manner as the rest of the unit. (Fig. 23) One of the dividers was deliberately sized to accommodate a small plastic bin l happened to have. This became a drawer for button type and odd size batteries. I also installed the light valance at the top right between the right side and the battery organizer.
The door was assembled by with some #6 – ½” screws through the plexiglass into the half round molding. It is very important to pre-drill everything including the molding. I drove several screws at the location of the magnets to help hold the door closed. I also installed the small wooden knob and the hinges. (Fig. 24)
The magnets were installed in the recesses carved out prior to finishing and the door was installed by attaching the hinges. (Fig. 25)
The light rope was threaded through the holes in the top of the vertical members of the battery organizer and held in place behind the valance with some screw hooks (Fig. 26)
I needed to reinforce the back where the power strip would be attached. I accomplished this by installing a piece of half inch plywood with #8 x ½” screws through the back. The mounting screws for the power strip were then attached. (Fig. 27)
Some double sided tape was used to mount the battery meter. The light rope is simply plugged into the power strip so that when nothing is being charged and the power strip is off, the light is off. The unit is now complete and ready to sit on a table or be mounted to the wall. (Fig. 28) I have had the unit in place for several weeks and the improvement is dramatic. Just eliminating the clutter of that old battery box is just as rewarding as the functionality of the new battery station.
Rod Gunter is the Executive Director at Gunter Building Solutions and has over 20 years of experience in the homebuilding and cabinetry industries. Rod has been responsible for building over 200 homes above the $500,000 price point. Rod has trained large groups including all the major home centers on selling skills, construction techniques and sustainable natural wood products. Rod resides with his family in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Gunter Building Solutions owns WoodAirGrille.com which produces wood return air filter grilles and wood return air vents.