Actually, the title is very misleading. This project isn't smaller than a breadbox, it is EXACTLY the same size as a breadbox.
What led up to this project was a long history of acquiring little devices that really want to be plugged into a charger ever now and then. First it was cell phones, then mp3 players, then book readers, and on and on and on. Like most people, we had a drawer filled with chargers, and when something needed charging we laid it on the counter and plugged it in.
That seemed to work fine until we added an iPod touch to the collection, and then a Kindle Fire. Suddenly the counter was finding itself filled with gadgets and wires were going everywhere. Several years ago I built a small charging station that I use in the bedroom, but it would only accommodate one cell phone, a camera battery charger, and an electric razor. The size of the Kindle Fire was what finally made me realize that we needed a new charging station, and for convenience it would be nice if it could fit inconspicuously in the kitchen. That's what led to the breadbox....
Step 1: Materials & Tools Required
My wife started looking for something that would go in the kitchen and be large enough to hold the items needing charging, and she came across this breadbox. It has a tilt-up door in the front, is made of metal, and was cheap.
In addition to the breadbox I used a small amount of scrap plywood & lumber, wood screws, a power strip, one rubber grommet, about 1.5 square feet of vinyl (leftover from a previous project), and some spray adhesive.
The tools required were simple: a drill & bit for drilling a hole for the rubber grommet, a screwdriver, wire cutters, soldering iron and solder, heat shrink tubing, and electrical tape.
Step 2: Build the Shelf
I began by building a wood shelf to fit inside the breadbox to hide the chargers and provide a place to set the items that needed charging. I made the shelf as shown in the photos, and made it so that approximately 1/2 inch clearance was on the left and right sides. The reason for this was two-fold: I couldn't make it any wider because of the tilting door, and I would use the side clearance to bring the charging cables up to the top of the shelf.
Step 3: Prepare the Breadbox
To install the power strip, first I cut the wires a few inches from where they enter the power strip in order to bring the power cable out the back of the breadbox. I drilled a 7/16th inch hole in the back, inserted a rubber grommet to protect the wiring, and soldered the wires back together. I insulated each wire with heat shrink tubing, then wrapped it with electrical tape. I also added a nylon tie to the wire near the hole to keep the wire from wanting to pull through the grommet.
I then hot glued the power strip to the breadbox, although fastening it was probably not necessary.
In the 2nd photo you will see two small wood cleats that I glued inside the breadbox. These cleats keep the shelf centered, otherwise it could be pushed to one side or the other and interfere with the tilting door.
Step 4: Cover the Shelf & Plug Stuff In
I forgot to take a photo of the shelf covering process, but basically I took a piece of vinyl, sprayed it with adhesive, and glued it to the top and front of the shelf. You can see the vinyl covering in the photo, where I tilted the shelf up to photograph the chargers.
Next, I plugged in the four chargers I needed.
Step 5: Done!
We now have all the room we need to charge everything all at once if necessary. And the nice thing about this little charging station is that when you pull the lid down, it looks just like a breadbox sitting on the counter in the kitchen.
This was an easy project and only took about an hour and a half to complete.