Build a Drill Charging Station
Shop Project: This custom-made rack will store your drills for easy access, and charge your batteries, all in one tidy area. It will also store any drill- related items in a handy drawer.
I have a lot of cordless drills and I use each one for slightly different tasks. The area where I store my cordless drills can only be described as a disaster zone. Finding the right drill is like looking for a needle in a sawdust pile. This rack doesn’t take up much counter space and it houses my drills, chargers and a host of miscellaneous drill and boring bits and pieces. It really is true: once I created a specific spot for each drill, they always get put back into their places.
When designing a project it’s a great idea to get into the habit of creating full-sized drawings. Lots of construction details can be worked out, and it can be referred to during the build.
Brown uses his cross-cut sled and some hold-down clamps to secure the gables while cutting their tops on an angle. Though this step isn’t necessary, it may give you slightly better access to your drills.
In order to see how each drill fits, Brown made a simple fitting jig; a panel with a hole it in, and a solid wood cleat across one end. By positioning each drill on the jig, and checking how far off the base of the drill was from the wood cleat, he can determine where to position holes in the angled shelf. The goal is to have the base of the drill fall flush with the underside of the shelf lip.
With the drills spaced out evenly on the angled shelf mark the center point of each drill. This information, coupled with the other distances obtained from using the fitting jig, will give you the locations of all the chuck holes in the angled shelf.
Notice there are a few notches on the edge of the shelf lip. They are to help hold the base of each drill in place, and are only added if needed.
Though iron-on edge tape would also work well, solid edging stands up to abuse a bit better. Cover all the exposed edges with strips of solid wood then trim them flush.
Adding the solid edging to the top of the back was tricky. Because the edge was cut on a 45° angle, Brown clamped a piece of scrap to the back of the back panel inline with the face of the bevel. This allowed him to apply opposing clamping force to the solid edging while the glue dried.
With glue on the ends of the back and angled shelf Brown brings the first gable into position and pin nails it in place. Once the other gable is glued and pinned he added clamps across the rack.
Fixed in Place
Most chargers have screw slots on their underside. With some careful measuring you can install the screws to locate the chargers on the front panel. Brown adds another screw after the charger is in place, so it can’t slide off the main screws.
My rack is fairly wide, as it needs to house six drills. Make adjustments to the width of the angled shelf and the back and front panels according to your drill collection. Just be sure to keep in mind future purchases. Stand all your drills up side by side, with ample space between each drill. This will give you an idea of your overall width requirements.
I could have employed a series of dados to assist with joining the parts together, but that would have been more work than I thought it was worth. This is a shop fixture, not a family heirloom. Butt joints, reinforced by plywood cleats, work great in this situation.
The angle of the shelf and the shelf lip supporting the lower portion of the drill both work to keep the drills in place. The only problem with this is that if you’re planning on putting this rack underneath some upper cabinets, you will need an extra few inches to be able to easily clear the bottom of the cabinet while you’re returning the drills to their home. I find the drawer really handy, as that’s where all my extra drill bits and miscellaneous boring items are stored, but it did increase the difficulty level and time of build a bit. This rack can easily be made without the drawer, though.
With my drills nearby I started by drawing the cross-section side view in full scale. I didn’t need to know the exact location of the holes that would accept each drill’s chuck just yet, but I wanted to make sure my largest and smallest drills would fit nicely. This drawing let me physically place my drills over the drawing to visualize their future location and how the different parts associated with each other.
I cut the gables, angled shelf, front panel and back to final size. There were 45° bevel cuts on the top of the angled shelf, front panel and the back. With some offcut strips I temporarily laid out the angled shelf, front panel and shelf lip on the inner surface of one of the gables. You could simply use a straight- edge for this, though I find visualizing the joinery easier with plywood offcuts. I then drew lines around the parts and transferred the mirror image to the inner surface of the other gable, so I knew where all the parts were going to go. At this point I cut the drawer face away from the gable. If you don’t want a drawer just skip this operation. A 1/2″ x 1/4″ rabbet to accept the 1/4″ thick bottom was then cut on the inside, lower edge of the back, left gable and the front panel. If you’re not going to build the drawer you can add the rabbet to the inside edge of the right gable too.
I then cut some simple cleats from scrap plywood and glued and nailed them in place against the lines. These cleats would assist me during assembly and add a bit of strength to the charging station. They don’t need to be cut to exact length or finish precisely at their ends, as they will never be seen.
As I would be accessing the finished station slightly from the side, I cut the gables off on an angle above the angled shelf. I used my table saw crosscut sled, with some hold-downs and stop blocks for this, but a bandsaw or jigsaw would work if you didn’t mind a more rustic look.
Drill the chuck holes
To figure out exactly where to drill the holes to accept each drill’s chucks I made a simple model shelf, and screwed a solid wood cleat to its edge. Though it didn’t fit any of my drills perfectly, I could easily see how far off the hole was for each drill, then figure out where the chuck hole for each drill should be located on the real angled shelf.
Next I needed to space the holes out sideways, so there was enough space between each drill to be easily grasped. I spaced my drills with at least 1″ between each unit then marked the center point of each drill. The intersection of this line, with the height info I obtained from my model shelf, gave me the chuck hole locations.
In order to help hold each drill as securely as possible I was careful to bore a hole customized to each drill. The hole should be just large enough to let the drill seat fully into it, but not large enough to be sloppy. The holes I drilled were between 1-3/4″ and 2-1/8″ in diameter. Using scrap to test which holes work best for which drill goes a long way to a great finished rack.
The shelf lip
To support the base of each drill I added a piece of solid wood to the lower edge of the angled shelf. In a few spots I made some careful cuts of arcs in order to better hold each drill. Most of the drills actually rested on the lip quite nicely, and no notches were needed. After some fiddling I glued the shelf lip to the angled shelf.
Covering the edges
If I had walnut iron-on edge tape handy, I would have used it to cover the raw plywood edges, but I didn’t. Instead, I cut some strips of solid walnut edging and glued them in place, using strips of masking tape to hold the pieces in place while the glue dried. I made the strips about 1/32″ wider than the plywood I used so a quick sanding was all that was needed in order to flush the joints. The risk is that a piece may get glued onto the plywood slightly off-center, and not overhang the plywood on both sides. For this shop project I was willing to take that risk, and everything worked out great.
The only tricky part about adding the solid edging was when I had to cover the top, bevelled edge of the back panel. As this edge was cut on an angle it was wider than 3/4″. Cutting a wider strip was easy enough, but clamping it in place was harder. Instead of masking tape I clamped a 36″ x 3″ strip of plywood to the back of the back, up near the bevelled edge. By using a back corner of the scrap plywood I could use clamps to apply pressure to the strip of walnut edging. In terms of width, I left it oversize, so had to use a flush trim handsaw and belt sander to flush it up once it was dry.
Sand and assemble
I then sanded the surfaces, eased the exposed edges and did a dry run. I added glue to the ends of the angled shelf and back, then positioned them against the gables and cleats and pin-nailed them in place. A few clamps brought everything together nicely. I then drove a few screws through the back, into the angled shelf, where the two parts met. Once it was dry I installed the front shelf, screwing it to the angled shelf. The bottom was then cut to size and installed.
Make the drawer
Create a drawer box 1″ narrower than the opening and as deep as possible. I used a simple rabbet joint at the four corners. A 1/4″ x 3/8″ rabbet around the inner perimeter would accept the drawer bottom. Mount the drawer on the slides and add edging to the raw edges of the drawer face. I had to cut the drawer face down a bit so it didn’t rub on the counter the rack was placed on, and the wall it was attached to. The final bit of machining was to consider a drawer pull. A standard pull is a simple option, though I added a simple shop-made pull instead.
Most chargers will have screw slots on their underside. Chargers can be attached to the front panel by driving in small screws at precise locations and sliding on the chargers. Adding another screw beside each charger so it’s not able to slide off the screws is something to consider.
I sprayed a few coats of polyurethane onto the rack and attached it to the wall. I then loaded it up with drills, chargers and all the random boring accessories I’ve accumulated over the years.