Model your project ideas in 3D, with free software from Google.
From the column 101
How to use SketchUp when building the real thing:
- Keep your hardware in mind when you're finishing up your SketchUp Model. For this charging caddy, the build materials are: 3/8" plywood (Baltic birch ply used here), 2 - 3/4" hinges, a magnetic catch to keep the door closed, small wood screws or finishing nails (I used these to nail into the bottom and back boards only), wood glue, power strip, and (optional) a utility appliance timer (see tips below on making this project more efficient).
If you have a different thickness of wood or ply, a larger power strip, etc., edit your design with that in mind. One of the advantages of having a 3D model is that you can change things and confirm your changes visually, by remodeling, rather than by recalculating every piece.
- Use the dimensioning tool to get the sizes of all the pieces you need. You can even line up pieces to plan your cuts.
- You can print full-scale templates in SketchUp.
You may or may not need a template for this project. But if you have something that might require a lot of remeasuring (perhaps slots for your wires?), then you might want to print one.
First you'll need to set up your view, then use the Page Setup and Document Setup dialog boxes to print to scale.
- Depending on your model, it might be a good idea to isolate the piece you're printing a template for by hiding all the other pieces.
- First, you need to change your view in the modeling window to an orthographic one. Go to Camera -> Standard, and choose the view that corresponds to the side that contains your template.
- Make sure that you're not looking at that Standard view in perspective (so you're not seeing the back edge of any holes), by going to Camera and checking off Parallel Projection.
- Zoom in so your template piece fills the modeling window.
- Select your printer, paper size and orientation by going to File -> Page Setup
- Make sure you're printing at full scale by going to File -> Document Setup. Uncheck the box Fit View to Page, and make sure the scale is 1 for both In Drawing and In Model. Before you exit this dialog box, click on the Width or Height dimension and you will see they'll automatically change, and at the bottom it will indicate how many pages you're on. If it says more than one, either your piece is too big for the printing size or you need to adjust the view of the piece in your modeling window.
- Go to Print, preview it first to make sure all is well, then print. Also, if it's more than one page, you can always tape together the tiled pieces.
Ideas on how to make this charging caddy more efficient:
Hook it up to a timer. I would always forget which outlet I had my phone and charger plugged into, and it could get left there for quite some time. Overcharging your phone makes the battery die faster. Also, even when the phone's not hooked up to a charger that's plugged in, there's a phantom load draw. It's a very nominal amount, but it adds up over time (especially when everyone is doing the same thing).
Some power strips have a timer built right in, or you can buy one of the traditional plug-in timers. Make sure to get one for 3-prong plugs. All I have to do is remember to plug in my cellphone before bed and it charges for less than an hour, and it's ready to go when I wake up. I've seen some home-built charging caddy designs that even have switches for each plug on the power strip, which is another way to go about it.
Multimedia content for this article:
Charging caddy tutorial video
The video version of the tutorial in CRAFT magazine
Download now: QuickTime .MOV
Wall-mounted caddy tutorial video
In this video, you learn how to use the Arc Tool to make hanging slots on the back, and the Follow Me Tool to add some rounded edges.
Download now: QuickTime .MOV
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