Intro: Digital Harbor Foundation's Soldering Station
This Instructable covers how to build the mobile soldering stations that we use at Digital Harbor Foundation. This is a great project to build with youth. Our youth assembled the stations in our space as well as stations that they donated to other school-based makerspaces in Baltimore.
These sturdy, mobile stations help make soldering tools and equipment safely accessible to every corner of your makerspace.
Assembling a soldering station takes two people and minimal tools, and materials can be pre-cut at your local hardware store.
For more project guides and makerspace resources, head over to Blueprint by Digital Harbor Foundation.
These stations are a modification on the Digital Harbor Foundation Tool Cart (opens in a new tab).
If you're interested in building the soldering station, it's recommended to read through those directions first as the first build step requires you to have already built the Tool Cart. The cut lists are nearly identical for both projects except this one uses longer 30" boards along the bottom instead of 18" foot boards. These distinctions are noted in the steps.
Step 1: Gathering Tools
First, let's gather the tools you'll need for this project.
- Power drill (or get this economy version)
- Tape measure
- Bit set, driver set, and socket set with sizes shown in the image
- Level, safety glove, and pencil
Cost Per Soldering Cart:
- About $300-$370 for construction materials
- About $170-$200 for soldering supplies and equipment
Step 2: Gathering Materials
Now, let's gather the materials. We've provided cut list templates that can be downloaded as PDFs. The rest of the cart comes together with basic hardware and a peg kit.
Three 8-foot 2×4’s
Although the frame of the soldering carts is basically a Tool Cart, the cut list for lumber is a bit different, using 8-foot 2×4’s instead of 6-foot, and with foot beams of 30″ instead of 18″ to allow a larger bin for holding soldering tools.
Also note: 2x4s actually measure only 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.
- The two 48″ planks will be called the side posts
- The three 21″ planks will be called the cross beams
- The two 30″ planks will be called the foot boards
Sheet of Peg Board
Pegboard, also known as perforated hardboard, is generally available in two thicknesses: 1/4″ and 1/8″. For this project, make sure that you purchase 1/4″ pegboard; it is much sturdier and fits most standard size pegs. Most hardware stores carry 1/4″ pegboard in a dark brown color and will cut sheets down to size for you according to the cut list shown in the image. We purchased 4×4 sheets in a lighter brown color which blends nicely with the natural wood color of the 2x4s, and cut each sheet in half ourselves using a circular saw.
Sheet of Particle Board
The bin at the bottom of the soldering cart will be built from pieces of particle board that you can get pre-cut at your hardware store or cut yourself, following the cut list.
Note: Gloves should be worn when handling particle board, the edges are rough and can splinter when moved.
- The 14″x24″ piece will be called the shelf
- The two 7″x17″ pieces will be called the side panels
- The 4.75″x24″ piece will be called the front panel
- The 13″x24″ piece will be called the bottom panel
Step 3: Gathering Hardware
After gathering the tools and materials, you'll need to gather the hardware, peg kits, and soldering equipment hardware.
- 2 x 5 1/2″ handle sets, with included screws
- 4 x full-locking 3″ swivel caster wheels
- 4 x 3″ deck screws (deck screws have much greater holding power than regular screws)
- 62 x 2″ wood screws (38 for cart + 24 for accessories)
- 16 x 1″ lag screws, 5/16″ diameter (lag screws can bear a lot of weight)
- 6 x 1 1/4″ length, size 8-32 machine screws
- 6 x nuts to match the machine screws (make sure each one fits before leaving the store)
A basic Durahook multi-pack will contain everything that you need for one tool cart. In fact, it will contain more than you need, so you might want to consider buying peg hardware individually.
Pro tip: sometimes peg board hooks can pop out when you remove a tool. To eliminate this problem we chose Durahooks, which come with mounting screws to semi-permanently attach each hook. The pegs can still be rearranged when you want, but the screws prevent them from coming off while you are working.
Soldering Equipment Hardware:
Step 4: Build the Tool Cart
For this step, you'll need to refer back to another Instructable: Digital Harbor Foundation's Tool Cart (this link will open in a new tab.)
Build the tool cart (without the tools), with one change to match the soldering cart cut list: use longer 30” foot boards along the bottom instead of 18” foot boards.
Adjust the tool cart instructions accordingly. For example, when measuring halfway across the foot boards you will have to measure for a distance of 15″ instead of 9″.
Step 5: Place the Bottom Panel
Note: From this point on, the steps will assume that you've built the tool cart. This step picks off where that build leaves off.
Lie the 13″x24″ piece of particle board for the bottom panel across the two foot beams on one side of the cart.
Step 6: Measure and Mark Corner Holes
Use a pencil and measuring tape to mark each corner of the bottom panel 2” in from each edge.
Step 7: Pilot and Drill Corner Screws
Select a drill bit to match the width of the shaft of the wood screws, and pilot each of the four marked holes. Then use the drill to drive a wood screw into each of the holes.
Step 8: Place One Side Panel
Flip the cart on its side and place one of the 7″x17″ side panels on top so that it is flush with the bottom and front edges of the foot beam.
Step 9: Measure and Mark Side Panel Holes
Mark three of the four corners of the side panel 1” from each edge, under the corners that lie above the 2×4 beams.
Step 10: Pilot and Drill Side Panel Screws
Pilot holes through the 3 marks on the side panel, and then drive wood screws into each of the three holes.
Step 11: Flip and Repeat
Turn the cart over to the other side and repeat Steps 7-10 to attach the other 7″x17″ side panel.
Note: Make sure that you have both side panels assembled before moving forward with this step.
On the side panel facing up, measure and mark the exposed side panel 2 1/2” from the bottom edge, and 1/2” in from the side edge. Along the same side edge, and still 1/2″ in from that edge, make another mark 1″ from the top. These marks will be used to secure one side of the front panel in the next step.
Step 13: Place and Secure the Front Panel
Fit the 4.75″x24″ piece of particle board for the front panel into the space between the two side panels and align with the front edge of the base panel. While holding the front panel firmly in place, drill pilot holes into both marks, and then drive wood screws into the two holes to secure the front panel along one side.
Step 14: Flip and Repeat
Turn the cart over to the other side and repeat Steps 11 and 12 to secure the other side of the front panel and complete the bottom compartment of the cart.
Step 15: Measure and Mark Shelf Bracket Heights
On the other side of the tool cart: Along the peg board, measure and mark 24” from the top of the cart, on each side.
Step 16: Attach Smart Jars
Above the bottom compartment, attach Smart Jars to hold small hardware and wires. To attach Smart Jars to the peg board, hold the jar case at an angle from the board, insert the top hooks into the desired holes, and then tilt the jar case down until it snaps into the lower holes.
Step 17: Place and Level the L-Brackets
Hold the 10” side of one of the L-brackets against the peg board so its holes are on either side of one of the 24” marks. Have the second maker hold the other L-bracket the same way on the other side. The holes of the L-brackets should line up with the 2×4 center beam behind the pegboard. Use a level to make sure that the L-brackets are aligned, and then mark an X in the holes of each L-bracket.
Step 18: Pilot and Drill the L-Bracket Screws
Put down the L-brackets and drill pilot holes through the pegboard, through to the center beam, at all four marks. Then re-align the L-brackets drive wood screws into those pilot holes through the brackets to secure them to the pegboard.
Step 19: Mark the L-Bracket Holes Under the Shelf
Once both brackets are attached, place the piece of 14″x24″ particle board for the top shelf panel on top. Make sure it is flush with both sides of the cart, and its back edge touches the peg board. From underneath the top shelf panel, mark the locations of each of the three holes under the shelf for each L-bracket.
Step 20: Drill Holes All the Way Through the Shelf
Remove the top shelf panel from the brackets and lay it upside down with the marks facing up. Make sure the edge where you will be drilling has ample room underneath it, as you will be drilling pilot holes completely through the shelf. Then select a new drill bit with the same thickness as the shaft of the size 8-32 machine screws, and use that bit to drill pilot holes completely through each of the 6 marks on the shelf.
Step 21: Place and Drill Through the Shelf
Place the top shelf panel back on the brackets so that the bracket holes line up with the pilot holes. Then drive the machine screws through each of the pilot holes and down through the L-brackets.
Step 22: Screw on the Nuts
Attach a nut to each machine screw underneath the top shelf panel, to securely fasten the shelf to the L-brackets. Tighten each nut completely.
Step 23: Mark Power Strip Holes
Underneath the top shelf, hold the power strip backwards so the mounting holes face out, about 2 rows of holes below the shelf. Mark above each line of the power strip’s mounting holes. These marks should line up with the center beam inside the cart.
Step 24: Pilot and Drive Screws for the Power Strip
Using a bit that is sized to match the wood screw shafts, drill pilot holes on the marks, all the way through the peg board and into the center beam. Then drive wood screws into the pilot holes. Only drive the screws in partially, so that about 1/2” sticks out from the surface.
Step 25: Mount the Power Strip
Position the power strip above the protruding screws so that the mounting holes line up with the screw heads. Then tilt the power strip down so the mounting holes fit over the screw heads and the power strip is securely fastened to the pegboard.
Step 26: Secure the Power Cord
Place pegs under the shelf where needed to hold the power strip wire to the pegboard.
Step 27: Mark Tape Cutter Holes
Place the tape cutter blade on the top of the cart about 2” from the left shelf-side edge, with the teeth facing the front edge, and use a pencil to mark each hole location.. When sitting at the soldering station, this tape cutter blade will be on the top of the cart and to the right, just above where we will mount a roll of tape.
Step 28: Pilot and Drive Tape Cutter Screws
Remove the blade and then use the bit that matches the wood screws to pilot a hole through each mark. Then replace the blade and drive wood screws into each of the two holes.
Step 29: Attach Durahooks With Screws
To attach Durahook pegs to the board, insert the bottom tab into the desired hole, and then tilt the peg upwards so the top tab aligns with the top hole. Then use the drill to drive a peg screw through the hole in the tab, securing the peg firmly onto the peg board.
Step 30: Drill Hanging Holes As Needed
Using the largest bit, you can drill holes through some items to enable them to hang from a peg.
Step 31: Install Wire Bar Hardware
Attach three Duraloop pegs to the top of the board on the top shelf side, as shown in the image.
Step 32: Drill Wire Holes in Spools
Pro Tip: Use the smallest bit to drill holes in the side of plastic wire spools. You can use this hole to keep tails tidy!
Step 33: Place and Stock the Wire Bar
Insert the dowel into the right loop peg from right to left, and then feed the electrical tape, followed by the coated wire, onto the dowel. Then insert the dowel through the middle loop peg, add the remaining spools, and insert the left end of the dowel into the left loop peg.
Step 34: Stocking the Soldering Station - Hand Tools
Now that you've made the soldering station, what tools should you put in it?
Here are the tools and equipment that we’ve found the most useful to have on a rolling soldering cart, and how we chose to arrange them on the pegboard. When possible we’ve included links for both pro and budget supplies.
Step 35: Stocking the Soldering Station - Electric Tools
Step 36: Stocking the Soldering Station - Safety Equipment
Step 37: Stocking the Soldering Station - Measuring Tools
Step 38: Stocking the Soldering Station - Wire, Solder, and Tape
Step 39: Stocking the Soldering Station - Odds and Ends
Step 40: Arranging the Tools
Here’s how all our tools and soldering equipment look when stored on the front and back sides of the tool cart. Click the image to zoom in if you want more detail.