How do you prevent a hall of rowdy mechanical engineering students from destroying brand-new power tools? Why is this even a problem?

My floor has around $500 worth of communal power tools – and as one might expect, these tools tend to “walk away” at an impractical rate. To solve this, I decided to build a “tool locker” that would open only to a student ID. This would make tool users accountable for their actions.

Time is always at a premium, so the design had to be simple – but given the amount of abuse it could see, so was strength. For this reason, the tool locker was designed to be made out of 3 layers of waterjet-cut aluminum bolted together. The middle layers hide a small servo-actuated latch. Shoulder screws, brass bushings, and copious amounts of lithium grease keep the mechanisms moving with minimal wear.

To save time, every single plate was constructed from a single sketch that was used to create 5 derived configurations. The final assembly is just the “same” part 5 times!

How does it lock up tools? It doesn’t; it just traps their power cords in a comb of aluminum. This makes the design capable of entrapping 14 tools at once.

The design took 3 hours to create, 1 hour to cut, and 30 minutes to assemble. Three lag bots hold the tool locker to our communal workbench.

All that’s left is the creation of the software backend to drive this. That’s for another day.