making custion industrial plywood drill bit holders

A few years ago I built some industrial plywood drill bit holders for a local company dealing, among the other things, with the sharpening of different types of drill bits. The stands had to meet certain conditions:

  • the design had to be made so they would be easy to be handled
  • they had to be painted in two different colors: red (to be used for the blunt drills) and green (to be used for the sharped ones)
  • they had to be built out of plywood to be durable over time

After all these years the company asked us to make a few more stands. I took the opportunity to make this tutorial with the idea that it would be useful to someone.

1. I started by buying, from a local store, some 18 mm thick plywood boards, with a width of 61 cm and a length of 122 cm. We chose these sizes to be easy for us to carry them from the store to our workshop in a small car.

the plywood boards needed for building industrial drill bit holders
18 mm thick plywood boards

2. I measured the distance from one long edge of a board and marked two points. I wanted to obtain strips of plywood with a width of 20 cm. The distance measured was equal to 20 cm plus the distance between the blade of the circular saw and the edge of the soleplate. Then I used another board as a guide to cut straight the measured board with the circular saw.

the 20 cm width plywood strips used for building the industrial drill bit stands
20 cm plywood strips

3. I glued the strips, two by two, to get 36 mm thick strips. I was very careful to align them very well on a short and a long edge, to be sure that I will get in the end the maximum number of 20 cm square pieces. The boards were long enough to be able to get 6 pieces, also taking into account the thickness of the circular blade.

I glued the plywood strips two by two to get a thickness of 36 mm
The plywood strips were glued two by two to get a thickness of 36 mm

4. I kept two strips to cut small pieces for the legs of the stands, which had to be glued to the back of the holders. I used the sliding circular saw to cut them quickly at 18 mm.

The 18 mm / 18 mm plywood strips needed for gluing them on the back of the drill bit holders
18 mm / 18 mm plywood strips used for the legs

5. As I needed to drill repetitive holes arranged at equal distances from each other, I made two templates out of plastic placemats. For the 16 mm, 18 mm, and 20 mm diameter holes I had to drill 6 rows of 6 holes in each drill bit holder. For the ones with 25 mm diameter holes, I had to drill 5 rows of 5 holes in each holder.

To make the template:

  • I cut the plastic placemat at 20 cm by 20 cm
  • I drew horizontal and vertical lines at the same distance from each other
  • I pricked the plastic placemat with a thick needle at the points where the lines crossed
I made some templates out of plastic placemats to easily drilled all the holes into the plywood holders
The template is made from a plastic placemat

6. I put the template over the square piece and I used a mechanical pencil to mark the points on the holder.

I marked the places to drill the holes with a mechanical pencil
The points are marked with a mechanical pencil

6. After that, I used a center punch and a hammer to make small holes into the marked points. That helped me to drill the holes without turning off the bench drill press to fit the drill bit for the next hole.

I deepened the marked points to be able to set the position of the drill bit easily, when drilling the holes
Deepening the marked points to drill the holes easily

7. The next step was to drill all the holes needed for the project.

drilling the holes into the plywood drill bit holders with the bench drill press
I drilled the holes into the plywood holders

8. After that, I started to glue the narrow strips tightening them with C clamps. The importance of the strips is that they help the user to handle the holders easily.

using C clamps to glue the narrow plywood strips on the back of the industrial drill bit holders
I glued the narrow strips on the back of the holders

9. When the glue dried, I sanded all the surfaces with 80 grit sandpaper. I filled the holes of the plywood with wood putty and then I sanded them again with 120 grit sandpaper. I also sanded the sharp edges.

the way the mill bit stands looked after sanding the surfaces and filling the holes with wood putty
The plywood holders after sanding them

10. Before painting the holders, I applied a layer of water-based primer and sanded the surfaces with 320 grit sandpaper.

applying a layer of water-based primer to protect the industrial bits holder
The plywood holders after I applied a layer of water-based primer

11. The final step was to apply a layer of red on half of the holders and a layer of green paint on the other half, first on the back and on the edges and then on the front and again on the edges.

custom industrial mill bit stands made out of 18 mm plywood
Homemade drill bit holders made out of plywood

Now they are ready to be used for a long long time!

the plywood drill bit holders after applying the water-based paint
Red and green drill bit holders made out of plywood

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