The problem: I hate wire clutter. With the batteries I need to charge on all my electronics (cell phone, Bluetooth headset, AA batteries, MP3 player, etc.), my power strip and desk get cluttered quite easily. I wanted a solution to this and I have it.
I created a dock for all my chargeables. It's basically a wooden box with a power strip inside and little holes in the top to let the charging interfaces through. A fairly simple build, if you have all the right tools.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw
- Drill Press
- 3/8", 1/2", and 5/8" Forstner bits
- 1/4" chisel
- Wood glue
- Brad nail gun
- 3/4" brad nails
- Wire cutters or scissors
- 1/4" plywood (I think I used a sheet about 26" x 20", but yours will depend on the size you want)
- 1/4" rubber grommets
- 2x 2" hinges
- Draw catch
- Power strip (really any kind will do, but the one I used is an unusual one)
Step 2: Measurements
Now it's time to figure out how big your box needs to be. I plugged all the accessories I thought I would ever have plugged in at once(ish) so that the maximum space would be occupied. Then I took rough measurements of the size I needed. Mine ended up being about 11" x 8" x 4".
Again, I'm using a rather irregularly shaped power strip for this. My dad got it from work and I doubt it was made within the last ten years. The most typical kinds, the long and skinny ones, will obviously have different measurements.
Step 3: Planning & Sketching
Now is the time to get your design down on paper. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate and neat. This is what we call QDU (quick, dirty, and ugly). Of course, if you feel like it, you can make it look nice and neat.
One thing to keep in mind is that 1/4" plywood (at least in my case) is closer to 3/16". I ended up with some sides short because I failed to take that into consideration. And I was a little careless in my planning. But learn from my mistake!
Step 4: Cutting the Plywood
Once you have all your dimensions figured out it's time to cut the plywood down to size. I used the table saw and miter saw to rip the pieces to size. Be careful if you're cutting small pieces. Use a clamp if you can on the miter saw. I've had my share of close calls. My dad nearly cut off his thumb with the table saw and he's been doing this for longer than I've been alive. As it was, he had to go to the emergency room for stitches.
Step 5: Prepare the Top for Use
The top of the box will have some hole in it for your charging plugs to go through. The holes will be pill-shaped.
Part of the hole will have a recess in it so that the rubber grommet will fit. The recess should cut out all but about 1/16" of the plywood (probably a little less). Use the drill press and the 5/8" Forstner bit to do this. Set the stop to the depth you want and drill the recesses.
Then put the 3/8" Forstner on the press and finish drilling the holes through. Then what you'll want to do is drill one or more holes above the ones you have to stretch the hole out a bit. This is to accommodate some larger charging plugs you might have. I know my phone's plug wouldn't fit until I expanded it twice.
When you're happy with the size of the holes, clean up the sides with a small chisel. Get them nice and straight.
Step 6: Assembly
With your pieces prepared, now is the time to assemble it. I used glue and brad nails to hold it all together. Usually I just use glue with 1/4" plywood, but the size of this box warranted brads.
It's easiest to spread a small amount of glue on the edge of the plywood and spread it with your finger. Nailing the pieces together is a little harder. I'd practice on some scrap to find out how to nail it without the brad splitting the wood. I held the head of the nailer about 1/16" from the edge of the plywood and then nailed it. With stuff this thin it gets a bit tricky. Start at the corners, getting them set, and then get the rest of the piece straight.
Step 7: Dry Fit and Whoops!
With the two halves assembled, stop for a second to see how they go together.
This is where the careful planning shows. I didn't plan mine the best so I had to add some spacers to one end of the box. And another end has the sides sticking out a bit far. Oh well. This is for utility, not beauty.
Step 8: Hinges and Catch
Now, of course, you want a way to get into this thing. Two brass hinges and a draw catch do the job nicely.
Now, if I was trying to make this beautiful I might recess the hinges using the router. But since I don't care to, I just screw them directly on. I find it easiest to put the hinges into position and drill your first hole. Then screw that one in and finish up the last three holes. You attach the catch in the same fashion.
Step 9: Preparing for the Power Strip
Now, the nice thing about this station is that in the end all you have to plug in is one cord. It's time to cut a slot for that cord.
Put the power strip in for a dry fit to figure out where the cord will go. Then mark it and cut it out with a square saw. Be sure to round the end to accomodate for the roundness of the cord. I used a 1/2" Forstner bit for that.
Also, since you've got like 14 screws sticking into the box, it might be a good idea to cover those. I used some pink insulating foam leftover from when we remodeled some years back. Just cut them to size and glue them down (wood glue or super glue works fine).
Step 10: Mount the Power Strip
With the power strip all accommodated for, it's time to mount it.
I used double-sided carpet tape for this one. Man, I love that stuff. Get it on, peel the top off, and stick it in. Then glue the slot you cut out for the cord earlier back where it came from. Use a hand clamp to hold it in place (or tape. That works too).
Step 11: Finished!
Well, not quite. Take those rubber grommets and use a wire cutters/scissors to cut them. Not in half - just cut it like a split ring. What you do then is run your charging plug through the hole in the top of the box and put the grommet in that recess we cut earlier.
All in all, I'm happy with the final product. Instead of having a mass of wires cluttering my desk, I now have a few pigtails sticking out of a box and one cord running to the outlet. Ah, the joys of wire management.