Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition

In theory, it’s fun to have a lot of toys tools around, but the sad reality is that it’s only as fun as the organization level applied. Take it from someone who finds organization itself thrilling: it really doesn’t matter how many bits and bobs you have, as long as there’s a place for everything and you put away your toys at the end of the day.

[Cranktown City] is always leaving drill bits lying around instead of putting them back in their bit set boxes. Since he responds well to yelling, he decided to build an intelligent drill bit storage system that berates him if he takes one out and doesn’t put it back within ten minutes.

But [Cranktown City] did much more than that. The system is housed in a really nice DIY stand that supports his new milling and drilling machine and has space to hold a certain type of ubiquitous red tool box beneath the drill bits drawer.

All the bits now sit in a 3D-printed index that fits the width of the drawer. [Cranktown City] tried to use daisy-chained pairs of screws as contacts behind each bit that could tell whether the bit was home or not, but too much resistance interfered with the signal. He ended up using a tiny limit switch behind each bit instead. If any bit is removed, the input signal from the index goes low, and this triggers the Arduino Nano to do two things: it lights up a strip of red LEDs behind the beautiful cut out letters on the drawer’s lip, and it starts counting upward. Every ten minutes that one or more bits are missing, the drawer complains and issues ad hominem attacks. Check out the demo and build video after the break, but not until you put your tools away. (Have you learned nothing?)

Okay, so how do you deal with thousands of jumbled drill bits? Calipers and a Python script oughta do it.

Continue reading “Negative Reinforcement: Drill Bits Edition”

Sorting Thousands Of Drill Bits

[Austin Adee] came into some drill bits. A lot of them actually. But when thousands of assorted sizes are delivered in one disorganized box, are they actually useful? Not unless you’re drilling holes where diameter doesn’t matter.

So two projects were at hand: finding a place to store a few hundred different sizes of bits, and tackling the actual sorting itself. In the end, he used input from a digital caliper alongside a Python script that showed him where to put them.

The start of the tray design process was a bit of a research project, establishing the common sizes and how many would fit into a given space. This data was used to spin up the layout for trays with 244 different pockets to hold the bits. The pockets were CNC milled, but getting labels for each to work with the laser engraver was a bit of a hack. In the end, filling in the letters with white crayon really makes them pop, despite [Austin’s] dissatisfaction with the level of contrast.

But wait, we promised you an epic sorting hack! Unfortunately there’s no hopper, vibration feed, and sorting gantry that did this for him (now if it were perler beads he’d have been all set). Still, the solution was still quite a clever one.

A set of digital calipers with a Bluetooth connection sends the dimension back to a python script every time you press the capture button. That script find the pocket for the nearest size and then highlights it on a map of the drill bit drawer displayed on the computer monitor. In the end the trays fit into a wide tool chest drawer, and are likely to keep things organized through exactly one project before everything is once again in disarray.

[Austin] mentions a lag of up to one second for the Bluetooth calipers to do their thing. For assembly-line style work, that adds up. We remember seeing a really snappy reaction time on these digital calipers hacked for wireless entry.

Drill Bit Gauge Is Interdenominational Black Magic

Oh, sure – when you buy a new set of drill bits from the store, they come in a handy holder that demarcates all the different sizes neatly. But after a few years when they’ve ended up scattered in the bottom of your toolbox for a while, it becomes useful to have some sort of gauge to measure them. [Caspar] has the solution, and all you need is an old steel rule.

The trick is to get a ruler with gradations for inches and tenths of inches. After cutting the ruler off just after the 6″ point, the two halves are glued together with some steel offcuts and epoxy. By assembling the two halves in a V shape with a 1 mm drill bit at the 1″ position, and a 5 mm drill bit at the 5″ marker, a linear slope is created that can be used to measure any drill bits and rod of the appropriate size inserted between the two.

It’s a handy tool to have around the shop when you’ve amassed a collection of bits over the years, and need to drill your holes accurately. Additionally, it’s more versatile than the usual method of inserting bits in appropriately sized holes, and can be more accurate.

Now that you’ve organised your drill bits, perhaps you’d like to sharpen them?