Jul 27 2015

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Making Tool Drawer Organizers out of Expanding Foam

I was browsing Pinterest a few days ago and I came across an article showing how to use expanding foam to create a custom drawer insert for your tools. I immediately thought that I needed to try this. So the next day I started working on it.

The first problem I ran into was that I couldn’t remove the drawers from my Craftsman 3 drawer chest. So I needed to build a mold that was the same size as the drawer. This turned out to be a good idea anyway because I wouldn’t ruin my drawers if something went wrong.

Once I built¬†the drawer, I chose some tools I didn’t care about to run a test. Even though they didn’t say it in the article, I was afraid of the foam leaking through the fabric and ruining the tools. Once I had an arrangement I liked, I also hot glued the tools in place. I figured that if I didn’t they would have moved around and ruined the insert.

I used a piece of shower curtain fabric, which may have been a mistake. It was very slippery, so I thought it would slide around and get into crevices. It also is designed to shed water so I thought it would hold back the foam better than the shirt they used in the article.

When I filled the drawer with foam, I had a hard time spreading it out, so much so that I pretty much ruined the first try. I had to cut a new piece of fabric and try again. This time I just filled the drawer with foam, covered it with newspaper and pressed down on the whole thing with a piece of plywood. I then removed the plywood and newspaper, filled any remaining big voids, and covered the foam with newspaper and the plywood again. Then I put some weight on it.

I came back after about 4 hours and the foam was still somewhat squishy, but I pulled the insert out of the drawer anyway. I was really disappointed that the foam didn’t expand into the sides of the drawer and didn’t flow around the tools. The tools basically left shallow impressions in the foam. I probably should have waited a full 8 hours, because when I came back this morning to look at it, the foam was hard and it had expanded in the center a bit more.

I was also disappointed that the foam leaked through the fabric and stained it in random places. It also got all over the tools, I’m glad I didn’t use good tools. I think a cotton shirt would have stretched and made a better fit, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t leak foam through even worse.

I haven’t decided if I will try this again. Maybe next time I’ll try a thick cotton shirt with tighter weave. I’ll also be sure to leave the foam cure for at least 8 hours.¬†

Permanent link to this article: https://workshop.electronsmith.com/content/making-tool-drawer-organizers-out-of-expanding-foam/

1 comment

  1. Hang Fire

    If the tools were on top, I’m thinking gravity would help the molding process, along with the ability to press down on the tools with the top plate. Since overflow is inevitable, even necessary, pre-plan where it should go by incorporating a vent in the side of the mold.

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