It seems that almost every new power tool comes with “its own tools” for either making adjustments or changing out the blades, etc. In the past, I usually put those accessory tools in a drawer somewhere and then could never remember where they were when I needed them.
In the case of my new Harbor Freight chop saw, it came with an 8mm Allen wrench for changing the blade. The day before I purchased it, I was working on a project where I cut off a piece of aluminum from a length of stock which resulted in a short remnant that I intended to throw into my “drop bin.” When I was unpacking the new chop saw I noticed the plastic Ziploc bag with the Allen wrench. I looked to see if the Chinese manufacturer had made a small receptacle on the saw in which to store that wrench, but I did not see one. I wondered how I could make something to hold the tool, in a quick and simple way. There, sitting in front of me was that small block of aluminum which looked like it might work. I drew out on a rough engineering drawing in my head and started sawing and drilling. The block was about twice the size it needed to be, so I would need to cut it roughly in half with a band saw. The receptacle I envisioned needed two holes to hold a couple of mounting screws and a larger hole to accommodate the Allen wrench itself. The latter hole needed to be just slightly larger than the Allen wrench.
Step 1: I Drew Out a Rough "Engineering Drawing" in My Head
Actually I made the amateur engineering drawing above after the fact, but the principle is the same. About the time I made this wrench holder I was getting acquainted with the freebie version of the 3-Dimensional drawing program called SketchUp, and I used it to make this drawing. I often make drawings "on the fly" on a note pad.
It is obvious that I probably did not need a drawing for this simple project, but if I was making a bracket for my boat trailer, such a drawing might be necessary as well as helpful. On more than one occasion I have made an engineering drawing of a project to keep a record of it, in case I want to make it again 3 years from now.
Step 2: Cutting the Wrench Holder to Size
After visualizing what I wanted to make, I found a suitable place on the chop saw to mount the tool holder where it would not interfere with the operation of the saw or otherwise get in the way. The piece of scrap aluminum I had was about twice as big as it needed to be and therefore I cut it in two with my band saw.
Step 3: Drilling the Holes in the Tool Holder
I next placed the material in my drill press vise and drilled both the vertical hole for the wrench and the two horizontal holes to accommodate the attachment screws.
Step 4: Burnishing the Rough Edges on the Tool Holder
It is always a good idea to burnish or remove the sharp or rough edges on metal projects to make them more finger friendly. This is best done with a belt sander or a mill file.
Step 5: Mounting the Tool Holder on the Chop Saw
I held the wrench holder in place at the intended location on the saw body; then I used an electric hand drill in the top hole in the tool holder to make a mark on the saw. I then removed the tool holder and drilled the hole in the saw body.
Step 6: Match Drilling the Screw Holes in the Saw Body
I placed a machine screw through the top hole in the tool holder and into the hole in the saw. I put a lock nut on the screw and tightened it down. With the wrench holder in position, I put the drill bit into the bottom hole and drilled the second hole into the saw body. This is called match drilling and it is used to ensure that the hole locations match up when you are screwing two pieces of material together. If you try to drill the two holes in the saw and the other two in the tool holder just by using some measuring device, you will often be disappointed how poorly the screw holes line up.
Step 7: Finishing the Project
Lastly, I inserted the second screw through the hole in the wrench holder and into the saw body. I put a nut on the screw and tightened it down. The project was finished. It had taken 15-20 minutes.
There is no reason why this wrench holder could not have been made out of some other material including a plastic like Delrin. It would have been nice if the manufacturer had made one.
Using this piece of scrap metal is IMHO the best kind of recycling...