3D printed custom tool holders for my workbench (#P21)

Printing time, folks.

I recently had the urge to declutter my work bench. I usually prefer buying tools with proper holders, cases, mounting hooks, you name it. Some however are not offered with one (KS Tools 5.5mm/M3 ratchet wrench! Everything larger is part of the holder), some are only part of my collection (a set of Torx screw drivers T7-T20, so not including T5/T6/T25/T30), and some are one piece only, e.g. calipers. That stuff amassed over the last couple of years and it was time to get that sorted. The table was blocked for no good reason.

So I did. I modified the bench, removing a rectangular piece on the right side that previously was home to some networking gear, cables and adapters, as well as many screwdrivers. I instead got a custom piece of matching hardwood to span the entire bench and went from there. This piece also prevents parts from falling behind the table, which is a nice touch. I did not go for French cleat or the like; instead I developed a very simple system for the small tools that I will insert into it – single row only, nothing attached to the walls.

Don’t get me wrong: I do not expect anybody to download and use this stuff for their own tools (nobody uses the same crap I do), but I’d rather like to show how to develop such things or make existing 3D models fit one’s needs. I’ll describe things that required me to redesign pieces, and I’ll show a wide variety of tools so that you can get an idea of what to consider when making similar holders. I’ll also offer DesignSpark files, an exported STL version, as well as the thingiverse link to any of these models. If you come to the conclusion this is hell of a hassle for some neat tool presentation – you’re right, and if you’d rather throw all of your tools in a box instead, please do so.

This is the tool holder base unit. The STL export is only one piece, the RSDOC original file spans across seven units. Screw holes are partially removed for larger units. I standardized on a width of 25mm (and multiples), mounting depth 27mm (common thickness of wooden boards), as well a front part that includes 3mm of perpendicular support and 15mm of free standing space to allow for the tool to be mounted. While I extended that for several tool holders, I always curved back the edges to those 15mm for an even look.

Oh, and thingiverse preview generation is currently bugged. Bummer. I’ll have to use my own screenshots then.

(I didn’t get that one printed for obvious reasons)


I’ll now bore you with the construction details of the bench instead of showing off the prints. First, high-end tools for drilling 89 holes into the board which my wood supplier with his super-duper CNC machine wasn’t able to provide due to the 15cm board height (or a missing axis on his machine…):

Center punch and a piece of quadrille paper. Lots of patience.

Second step: Putting the Dremel into the router assembly, drilling 1.5mm pilot holes at the punched marks, re-drilling 2.5mm (I think) ones to see alignment (I don’t have a ton of screws, needles or other pointy things that would fit 1.5mm holes – I do have enough harvested M2 screws):

Step three: Widen again (manually with the drill, not assisted by the router) to accommodate the final screws and correct the previously noted alignment errors as far as possible. 267 holes drilled so far.

After that, each screw hole was fitted with a constantly re-used sacrificial screw and a failed print, in order to make manual install later a breeze but not to leave visible marks of the screw heads. This photo was taken with just a lot of small metric screws inserted, so once moved everything fell apart. Fortunately no chemical leaks or damage to the floor ;) You can see the calipers on the very left with v1 holders, clearly taking up more space than intended. This is the reason for 3D mounting holes in several pieces shown later.

Step five: Preparation of the work bench. As I said, I removed a former vertical mount, (re)surfaced everything with benchtop oil (not sure about the exact term here? Hardwax oil?) and then added holes to both the bench table as well as the additional board. I did that in two steps (so not drilling from bottom to top in one step) which worked surprisingly well. Every of the four screw fits perfectly and the alignment on the table is top notch – I didn’t honestly expect that, given I’m all thumbs. I used screw inserts on the board and wide A2 washers plus long M5 screws on the table, with the bottom drill holes only being 5.0mm. Pre-drilling is mandatory in the black locust wood (robinia pseudoacacia) used, so simply forcing in some wood screws would have splintered both pieces. Oh, and same procedure for the new vertical bit that still holds the lighting, while the new diagonal piece is just glued into place.

After everything was ready and the parts were printed, I mounted the individual pieces:

And inserted the tools. Some things needed fixing, but the overall majority was printed fine and worked on the first try.

Great, now back to tool holder construction. Presented in no particular order. Brace yourselves.

Holder for 4mm couplers (4+2+2), width 2 units:

The larger ones are of two different types, so two different diameters. Still looking for the second black piece…


Holder for 4mm clamps (4x), width 2 units:


Holder for 4mm probes (4x clamp probes “Klemmprüfspitzen”, 4x sharp probes), width 5 units:

I do not actually recall why there are two different diameters on the right side of the part, as the clamps fit in the smaller one. Did I good something or did I make room for parts that I placed somewhere else?


Holder for 4mm short circuit adapters (4x) and the Half Ohm milliohm measurement adapter, width 3 units:

This is the place for some unused adapters from the HP6644A front panel, as well as a future project.


Holder for pin punches (4x), width 2 units:

They could use some 3D holes, as they are clearly top-heavy. They move around but do not tip over.


Holder for slotted screwdrivers (3x), width 3 units:


Holder for Philips screwdrivers (4x), width 4 units:


Holder for Torx screwdrivers (6x small), width 4 units:


Holder for Torx screwdrivers (4x large), width 4 units:


Let’s get more 3-dimensional: Holder for Hex socket screwdrivers (3x), width 4 units:

This is v2 of that holder, in order to make the left screwdriver (RS232 port screws!) fit properly. With 2D holes, it does tip over, as the small seam does not really catch on enough. The others have large hex bits near the grip for exerting much bigger forces with an auxiliary wrench, so they sit flat and stable.


Holder for ratchet wrenches (5x), width 4 units:

Also v2 here. This was fumbly and still is (a little bit), the access ports need to be as slim and long as they possibly can be. The largest wrench has about one millimeter of ground clearance which was my design goal / purchase reason for buying the 15cm board height.


Holder for a pair of pliers (3x), width 7 units:

(only available on the group photo, as decommissioned already)

To showcase my iterations, here’s v2 of the pliers holder: Same tools, but stacked configuration for some space savings, as well as 3D holes to better support them against opening inside the holder. New width 5 units:

(that’s the gap from saving two units next to it, I’ll find something else…)

Holder for a manual solder pump and two ESD tweezers, width 2 units:

That’s LODESTAR, not LONESTARR, btw.


Holder for digital calipers, width 3 units (actually v2 with 3D elements due to a failed print of v1):


Holder for handheld measurement tools (3x, pH meter/paint thickness gauge / conductivity meter), width 4 units:


Holder for flasks and helpful chemicals (5x, water / isopropyl alcohol / acetone / flux / silver lacquer), width 7 units:


Holder for utilities (3x, scissors / tape measure / pen), width 5 units:


Holder for multimeter (Peaktech 2010DMM), width 4 units:


Holder for clamp meter (Uni-T UT203), width 3 units – this one needs a second revision, as it’s just a scaled version of the above, not supporting the rounder shape of the Uni-T enough):


And finally, the one and only holder that cannot be printed upside down for height reasons of my board (or the attached thing): Holder for safety glasses (Uvex), width 3 units:


I guess that’s it. 75 width units in 20 different pieces, hosting 76 tools. 1.875m of my 2.22m of available space already gone, and the rest somewhat blocked by the oscilloscope. Yet all clutter sorted and a few additional things now in reach. I’m glad I did this, but now I’m fed up with tool holders.



3D prints.
For now…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *