February 19, 2018

Laser Cut Cutlery Drawer

I recently joined Toronto's SteamLabs, and got access to a laser cutter for the first time. Laser cutters are incredible machines which use a freakin' laser to carve or etch patterns into flat materials like wood or plastic. They are fast too!

Over the past few years of 3D printing, I have learned that often some of the best uses for these amazing tools are to take something really mundane and just make it easier to make. For example, one of my most useful 3D prints was some "S" shaped hooks to hang Christmas tree ornaments. Within about 20 minutes, we had enough for all the ornaments we could hang.

Well, my laser cutting got off to a start with a similarly thrilling project. A cutlery drawer! It's pretty straightforward, but since it has proved to be so easy and useful, I decided to share it in case anyone else needs a custom drawer organizer.

Here's how it went down.

Laser Cut Cutlery Drawer Steps

  1. Laser Cutter 
  2. 2'x2'x0.25' Wood
  3. Wood Glue
  4. 4 x Wood Clamps  (If you don't have these handy, you could also try really tight masking tape)
  5. Laser Cut template
At a very high level, the steps to this project are simply laser cut this template, and wood glue it together. I'm going to go into a bit more detail though.

Create the Template

To design my cutlery drawer, I started by measuring our weirdly sized drawers (13" x 9.5"), and took a guess at how tall a cutlery holder should be (2"). Then I used this fantastic website called makercase which makes boxes with tabs so they have a stronger fit.

Makercase produces a closed box, but I wanted to top of the cutlery drawer to be open, and still had to add the dividers. So I downloaded the box generated for my dimensions, and used a program called InkScape to edit the template. I removed all the notches on one side to give a smooth top, and then added two notches in the ends to insert dividers. These dividers also had a notch a few inches in to provide space to store smaller objects.

Once it was all said and done, the template for the laser cutter looked like this:

Template for laser cutting cutlery drawers

Laser Cut and Glue

With the template finished, I grabbed a sheet of 2'x2'x0.25' Mahogany from the makerspace inventory, and loaded up the template in our cutting program.

The cut went well, and I was left with all the pieces to assemble:
Wood with negative space of template

Assembled (but not glued)
Finally, I grabbed some wood glue and applied a line to all the edges. I placed two clamps on each direction and let it sit for 15 minutes. The glue set well, and I ended up with a great cutlery organizer that fits exactly in our drawer! 

Finished Product

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