It’s tempting to think of a laser cutter as a tool that can only create two-dimensional objects or 2.5D, as we called them in my motion graphics days. And while that’s sort of true, those dimensions don’t have to be X and Y (width and height) exclusively. For example, if I cut an item out of wood from a top-down bird’s eye perspective and then intend to use it in that same orientation, its utility is obvious. But if I instead cut something out from that same top-down bird’s eye perspective and then flip it on its side, such that its cut edge is facing outwards, I suddenly have a 3D object that can be used in an entirely different way.
This is more obvious with thicker materials. On a table, it might be a weird-looking spoon rest; on the wall, it’s a garden tool holder. Which brings us to this project of mine from last summer, before I painted in here. The four feet or so along each wall in the front of my shop, near the garage door, is the neutral zone that my husband and I negotiated as yard and garden tool storage when we agreed to let me take over the rest of the garage for my workshop.
This area had never really been organized. Shovels and rakes, the weed trimmer, leaf blower – it was all sort of haphazardly stacked on top of each other. If it was going to be here, it needed to be more organized. So, I figured I would use my laser to help me make some custom tool holders. Luckily, the leaf blower and weed trimmer already had a mounting slot for a screw on the back, so those were easy enough to figure out. But literally everything else would need a custom hook or hanger.
In our laundry room, we just use a Command Strip hanger for our broom, so I was hoping that might be a good option rather than reinventing the wheel. But I didn’t think that would work here, as most of these handles were a unique diameter, and the Command Strips probably wouldn’t hold up well on plywood, painted or not. Plus, it’s fun making your own perfectly suited solutions!
I already explained the idea behind these hooks and holders at the beginning of the post, so we don’t need to get into that again. But let me quickly show you how I designed them. I’m working in Adobe Illustrator, as I’m most comfortable in there, though I wanted to eventually switch to LightBurn for these kinds of demonstrations, as I know most people are already using that when working with their lasers.
I had previously measured each tool handle’s diameter with my calipers, and luckily for me, each of the tools that I wanted to hang either had a horizontal handle that I could fit into a hook, or if it was just a cylinder, it had a rubber sleeve that I could use to rest the tool into. I created a circle with the same diameter as the tool handle, not counting its rubber sleeve. Then, using some rectangles, created a backing plate and arms that extended out, that could wrap around the shaft. These were just separate rectangles, so after I was mostly confident with their placement, I “Pathfinder-ed” / “boolean merged” them together. That’s a bit hard to see, though, so let’s give it a solid color feel before we add some polish for the form.
The first thing we can do is round off the inner corners to match the diameter of the tool. We can also give a rounded profile to the outside corners of those arms. Then, finally, the corners that would transition to the wall, the backside should be completely smooth to sit flush against the wall.
Now, I mentioned I also had some tools that had horizontal-style handles. For these, I made some custom hooks. I used the same principle of measuring the handle’s diameter to make sure the inner portion where it was rested was the right size, then expanded the outer diameter to give it some strength. I cut this “donut” in half and then expanded it up one side to give myself a surface to screw it onto the wall with, as well as to stabilize it on the other side where the handle would first meet the hook on its way to being hung. I decided to give it a slight lip or transition to make the tool easier to place on the hook while ensuring it didn’t slide off.
After all my hooks and hangers were designed, I manually nested them on a rectangle the size of the pine board I had on hand to cut them out with.
Time for cutting! As I’ve said numerous times in other videos, I love cutting thicker pine with the laser. It cuts like butter, and the cut edges aren’t super ashy or messy. Just a clean cut along the entire three-quarter inch thickness. You’ve got to take it a little slow, but it’s still way faster than 3D printing a similar form, so it’s totally worth it.
Now, the one downside from cutting from a different dimension than you intend to hang is that if you need mounting holes, you can’t have the laser cut those for you. Well, I suppose you could, but you need to place them back in the laser standing up and in this case, navigate the laser head around the vertical portions, trying not to knock it down. But that’s okay. Drilling a few pilot holes manually takes virtually no time at all, and it gives me the ability to add countersink profiles to the holes so that the screws don’t stick up or split my wood when I attach it to the wall.
With all my hooks cut and holes drilled, I could play the layout game and try to find the best place for the various rakes and shovels on the wall. The sun was playing hide and seek with me the day I filmed this, so apologies for the brightness mounting all around. If you’re wondering what the heck this little doodad is for, it’s maybe semi-unnecessary since it rests on the floor anyway, but it’s for our soil tamper. It’s not a hook, but it keeps it upright and unlikely to get tipped over.
Now that the shop is painted and those Ethernet wires aren’t dangling all over the place anymore, it looks super neat in there, and I love how it looks. I have a few more things to design hangers for, such as these bolt cutters, but that’s another show. If you want to make some hooks of your own, I’ll have a download linked on my website where you can grab my LightBurn file to play with yourself. I’ll leave the shapes unmerged to make it easier to customize to your tool’s diameter, but make sure to combine them before cutting them out; otherwise, your laser will probably cut everything in separate pieces, and that won’t be fun.
A big thank you to the patrons who support this channel. If you’d like to join them, there will be a link down below. And otherwise, I’ll see you in the next one. Cheers!