How to Make a Tool Carousel From a Paint Bucket




Introduction: How to Make a Tool Carousel From a Paint Bucket

About: I am an aspiring Maker, I strive to master all categories of making and currently on my list are: Machining, woodworking, whip braiding, programming, engineering, and last but not least Music. I am happy...

This project was inspired from watching Haas machining centers change tools. It is essentially a rotating peg board that you mount to the ceiling or the bottom of a cabinet (which is what I will show how to do). In this instructable I will be showing how to make a simple version that you spin with your hand, but with some small and easy modifications this system could be automated to respond to your voice, or commands on a keypad. One of the best things about this project though is that in this form it can be made entirely out of scavenged parts and basic tools. So without further ado lets get making.

What You Will Need


  • Power drill and various drill bits
  • Hot glue gun
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hammer
  • Jig saw
  • Hole saw
  • Vise (optional but highly recommended)
  • Sharpie (to mark hole locations)
  • Any tools that you plan on mounting


  • Paint bucket or any other plastic bucket without sloping sides
  • Old nails (or new)
  • Piece of 1/2" thick plywood or particle board that is at least 6" x 6"
  • Fan motor... in the next step I will delve into more details about these motors
  • Piece of foam that is around 1/4" thick (like the kind used for shadowing tool boxes)

If you don't have one of the above parts then here are some substitutes:

  • Instead of a foam you could stack cardboard up to the right thickness.
  • Just about anything that spins and has a rod extending from it can substitute for the fan motor.

Step 1: Making the Pivot Assembly

Now in order to make the pivot you are going to need a certain type of fan motor or something similar to it. These fan motors can be found in microwaves, refrigerators, and pretty much any other appliances that require cooling. Once you have found your fan, then the first thing you need to do is remove the fan blade and knock out the coil (the copper wire stuff). My method for taking out the coil is to unbolt the bearings/brackets and then put the frame in a vise and hammer at the coil. It should slide right out with a little coaxing. After that you will need to cut off the large copper wires using a pair of pliers. Finally, before you reassemble the motor (without the coil) then you need to trace out the frame on a piece of wood (the 6" x 6" one) and then cut out the circle in the middle using a hole saw and a jig saw for cutting grooves on either side for the bracket to fit in. Once the motor has been prepared and the wood cut then you may reassemble the bearing assembly and use the bolt holes in the frame to screw the entire assembly to the board. Next simply cut the fan blades off of the fan's center piece and set it aside. Now you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Preparing the Bucket

The first thing you must do to prepare the bucket is to use your utility blade to cut off the molding stud and then drill a hole in the center of the bottom of the bucket. You must be careful in drilling this hole to make sure that it is as close to the middle as possible. Otherwise, your tool carousel will not spin smoothly and will be lopsided. This hole needs to be just big enough for the pivot axle to slide into it easily. After the hole is drilled the next thing is to remove the handle and to use your knife to shave off the plastic supports that the handle was attached to. Finally, make sure there is no dried paint in the bottom of the bucket. If there is any paint (as there certainly will be) scrape out at least enough space for a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" square to fit in the middle without touching any paint. This way your glue will stick.

Step 3: Choosing a Tool Layout

Now you could skip this step and just randomly mount tools to the bucket, or... you could carefully lay out your tools ahead of time using these considerations and not have problems later in the build.

The first thing you must do is select the tools to mount. When making your selection, a trick that will make this step easier is to measure the circumference of the bucket (the distance around) using a flexible measuring tape like one used for sewing. Then lay out the tape and use the length that you measured as a guide for how many tools you can mount. Another thing to remember is the height & width of the tools. The best way to check this is to simply place a prospective tool up against the bucket and make sure that is is not longer than the height of the bucket and also that is doesn't stick out too much on the sides. The last thing to consider (and one of the more important) is how you spread out the weight. You need to make sure that your tools are lined up in a way in which the weight is distributed evenly, otherwise it will wobble whenever you spin it.

Step 4: Mounting the Tools

Now for the fun part... For this part of the project I will show the method I used to mount an Allen key set which can easily be translated to just about any other tool that will fit on the bucket.

The first thing you need to do is position the tool where you want it on the bucket and then mark locations where you could put nails to hold the tool, much like what you would do on a pegboard. Next, drill holes just large enough for the nails to squeeze through. Then, cut the nails down to the appropriate length (or at least cut off the point) and then put a slight upward bend in them to keep the tools from sliding off. Finally, push the nails part way through the bucket (from the inside to the out) and then apply some hot glue to the nail (as shown) and quickly pull the nail so the the head is flush with the inside of the bucket. After the glue dries you can rotate the bucket and use the previous tool to eyeball the position of the next tool and repeat the process all the way around.

NOTE: You will most likely end up with enough extra room at the end to mount one extra tool.

Step 5: Mounting the Bucket

Now to mount the whole thing. I will be showing how I mounted my tool carousel to the bottom of the cabinet above my workbench. With some small modifications it could easily be mounted to the ceiling, under the workbench, or to a brace extended from the wall.

First you need to mount the pivot system. In order to do this, find where the center of the bucket will be and drill a small hole through the bottom of the cabinet. This hole will need to be just big enough so the the axle on the pivot will not touch any sides of the hole. Next, place the entire pivot assembly in the cabinet with the axle extending through the hole. There is no need to screw or nail the assembly in place but if you wanted to prevent it from sliding around a dot of hot glue should do the trick.

Next, to prepare the bucket for mounting you need to take a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" piece of foam and drill a 1/2" hole in the center of it. Glue this to the bottom of the bucket over that raised bubble in the center. This way you will have a flat surface to glue the fan piece to later.

Once the foam piece is attached, then put a dot of hot glue in the hole in the bottom of the bucket (which is the top of the carousel) and quickly push the bucket up onto the pivot axle while applying pressure to the pivot assembly to keep it from popping up. When you have pushed the bucket up enough so that there is only around a half inch of clearance between it and the bottom of the cabinet then hold it there until the glue dries.

The final step in this process is to put a ring of hot glue around the flat side of the fan piece and then press that onto the axle rod until it is flush with the foam. Hold this in place until the glue dries and you're done! I hope you have fun with this project and find it useful. If you have any questions be sure to ask me in the comments. Happy Making.

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    15 Discussions

    Congrats on the Grand Prize win! It is a great design and well documented 'ible!

    1 reply

    Cool bro, always a good idea to stay organized

    1 reply

    You couldn't be more right... I find I make 75% more of the time when my shop is clean and organized. That 25% that I try to make in a messy space I find that I never finish the project.

    I made something similar but used hard drives magnets to have them stick . Quick tip * try the small 2.5" magnets first these things are strong enough to hold most tools and keep them there as opposed to the larger ones will have you use a crowbar "slightly exaggerating " every time you need your screwdriver :)

    I use those everywhere I can ,the tip of some wires so they stop falling behind the desk , keep a door open , my led strips ""instead of glue"" the applications are endless

    Nice, you could always just turn the tin up the right way and have your self a tool box lol...

    1 reply

    magnets insinde the bucket is more convienient.

    Ha! Clever re-use idea. thanks for sharing.

    Very good, well done, thanks for sharing.


    2 years ago

    Great project!, with a servo, mcu and buttons you could center front the tool that you need...

    1 reply

    Yea there is a nice slot for the servo and gears right above the motor... I plan on eventually adding a voice command system where I can call out a tool name and it rotates to face me.

    gr8 idea n instructable too. however one can use strong left out magntes from hard disk. siply attach them either from inside the bucket or even outside of the bucket thus eliminting th3 hangig nails.!.easier to remove n stick tools !

    Awesome Idea, Thanks for sharing.

    Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing your bucket project!