[Home Improvement] – Printer Cart

Tonight I wrapped up my printer cart. I needed something more stable than the Home Depot saw horses to hold my lovingly restored and hacked Epson 4000, but didn’t feel like spending $400-500 for the Epson offering for a printer that I only paid $150 for.

The other alternative would have been to buy an IKEA cabinet and put casters on it; however, IKEA furniture is designed for the rest of the world in metric. Normally, this doesn’t pose a problem, but at A2 size (nearest US equivalent, 17″x22″ paper) the drawers that IKEA makes are just 1/2″ too short to fit 17″x22″ ANSI C paper. Since I have a bit of photo paper in that size, IKEA cabinet wouldn’t work either.

Besides, I have some shop grade maple ply that I need to use up, so that I can finish cleaning up the other half of the garage and free up parking spot #2.

First, as with all custom design work, I start by throwing together a Solidworks model:


Then, I generate my cut list using Solidworks. Nothing fancy – I just have a blank assembly with 2 48″ x 96″ rectangles drawn in an empty sketch. I toss all the components of the shelves that I’m building into the assembly and manually tile the parts until they fit. (BTW, the screenshot shows an error. There is no way to actually *cut* those 4 shelving pieces with a circular saw. Prime example of how CAD tools in the hands of a newbie can lead to parts being designed that cannot be built!)


The plywood was cut using a Festool Plunge cut saw. These are one of the few tools that I had bought a little while ago and I consider it to be a life-time investment. Many sheets of aluminum, plywood and plastic for various prototypes, shelves, and furniture pieces have passed under those blades over the years.

Next, I cut the 32mm spaced pegs for putting shelving in.


The router sits on a sled that slides down a Festool guide rail. This particular guide rail had a detent slot routed into it on 32mm centers. The magic of these rails is you can get these sliding clamps that slide down an inverted C channel in the rail to clamp it to the plywood securely.


Using inch based measurement and mixing in 32mm system has its challenges. (For one, the instruction with the Festool attachment leaves a lot to be desired…). Since the design is asymmetric, there’s plenty of chances for screw-ups.


This is a sign that someone is sleep deprived! Thank goodness I haven’t drilled for the casters yet. That will now be my bottom piece :-) (By some fluke in design, the top and side pieces are all equal size).

Next came the joinery part. I used the Festool domino tool to put in my joints. The tool works by using a proprietary (read: expensive as hell) carbide end mill in a reciprocating action to mill a rectangular slot into the wood. A beech flat dowel, called a “domino” is then inserted into the slot. In practice, it’s lead to a lot of frustration to get things to align properly. I need to build a better fixture or something.


Finally, glue-up.


Alternate angle view here:


I’ve never been really good at carpentry. I don’t do enough of it to get better, and the typical rushed nature of the stuff I do (“crap, I need a box to put this printer on – and I’ve got a print order to fill later this week”) leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to change that.