Intro: Handy Spaced Powerboard for Work Space
I'd like to show you how to build your own spaced electrical outlet power board to use in a workshop or work space. I've been building similar projects for 30 years, it's definitely not the first power board I've made. This particular one was for the office as I'd already had these under the desk, but wanted them more evenly spaced for various other power boards to hang off to run computers etc. You can buy similar power boards commercially, but these cost $$$. And if you're uncomfortable with 240VAC wiring I highly recommend picking one up. The trouble with the commercial types is they're generally fixed spacing and if a power point goes, you either use it with one less or you throw it away and buy another. With this you can make them spaced however you like and all components are readily available and replaceable.
The other good thing about this project is that you can change the workshop around easily and the power board can follow without having to cut the power and rewire/insert new power points. Just unplug and move!
What You'll Need:
- Timber Saw (drop saw, table saw, hand saw)
- Drill and various drill bits
- Screw driver
- Electrical pliers and/or side cutters
- Stanley knife
- Screw driver
- Scrap plywood
- Electrical cable, male plugs or use an extension lead with female cut off - you can buy various lengths.
- You could save time and use commercially available power point mounts - these cost $$$
A WORD OF WARNING! (Disclaimer)
While the making of the surround involves general tools, the actual wiring of 240VAC IS DANGEROUS. If you have no experience at working with high voltage, I recommend not to do this project. In Australia, you should also hold the relative qualifications. Other countries may differ. So I'm not accountable for how you use these instructions. I'm also not going to show you the actual wiring up. If you don't know how to wire a plug or power point, again I recommend not to do this. Use these instructions at your own risk.
Step 1: Make a Template!
To start off, because you'll be making multiples I really recommend making a template out of scrap. Measure up, drill hole sizes for power point of choice. Essentially what I'll be making is two mounting risers. You could just go out an buy these at any electrical outlet or hardware store, but they also cost about $3.50ea. Scrap is FREE!
Step 2: Cut Your Bits and Bobs
Ok, so now you've got a template. Rip down and make the mounts as shown above. The dimensions aren't so much important other than being larger than the power point you'll be using.
The first picture shows the sequence. Drill the holes, cut out with a jigsaw. You don't have to be too neat, as it will be covered with the power point anyway. I would tidy it up so there's no loose or jagged bits. Make two lots for each mount so you have room for the wiring (8 in total if you're making a 4 point board). Also make sure your power points fit the hole!
Step 3: Make the Back and Tidy Up
So again, size isn't a concern only that it's bigger than your risers. This will cover the back of the board and allow access should you need it. It also allows a mounting point as well!
So align it with your risers evenly, drill some counter sunk holes for attaching to the risers (you can incorporate these holes into your template). Route a round over around all the edges to make them smooth. You can also drill side holes for the cable access. Drill size will depend on your cable size you used.
Finally give it all a good sand, maybe a coat or two of clear varnish to finish these off
Step 4: Electrical Wiring
You can use offcuts of leads or buy an extension lead and just chop the female end off. These are relatively cheap and you can use whatever length you like (5m or 7m's generally good). Just be aware that home use extensions (white ones) only use 0.75-1mm size cable - barely 10A approved. If you're using in a workshop, use a heavy duty lead with 1-1.5mm cable in it.
So strip back the outer insulation (enough so the bare inner wires are inside the enclosure). Poke the wires through the mounts, twist wires together and connect to power point. Then screw power point down and screw back on.
Mounts can be screwed to the back. I happened to have some make yourself angles in the drawer that I used (available from hardware stores in length that you cut yourself), but you could use angle aluminum or brackets. If you were mounting to a wall you could just make the back cover a little wider and drill mounting holes.
Step 5: Final Thoughts
While this is a relatively quick and simple project it is by no means a safe project. Read the disclaimer
I would recommend securing the leads inside the mounts with some clamps or at least cable ties. Last thing you want is to yank at a cord and you've got a 240VAC live wire in your hand or worse. You could also pack a bit of silicon in the holes to help secure and insulate the wires through the holes.
Always make sure your earth lead is longer than the live or neutral.
If you're worried about overload (which you should), you can buy inline over current breakers over the net that you could wire in before the first point. You can also buy off the shelf plug in RCD's that you could plug this into first (I'd recommend that in a workshop in case you accidentally cut through a lead.
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