Was reading one of my favorite tool blogs last week and was intrigued by a post and the challenge it contained.
Stuart from Toolguyd posted an article that talked about a Kickstarter campaign for some simple desktop cord keepers called “Stacks” and how it might be a good DIY project. In the article, he also threw out a challenge: Weekend Challenge: Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to design or make a desktop cable and cord stop or tamer of your own.
Went through some of the scrap pieces in my shop and tried different species to see what would and would not work well.
Walnut turned out to be a bit light. It works if the cords are somewhat behaving, but doesn’t have enough mass to really do a good job.
Next, I tried some apitong (scrap cutoffs from a trailer manufacturer). It worked much better than the walnut, as it is quite a bit denser and heavier.
Thinking about this quote from the article: “We believe that your office/home decor influences your lifestyle. Its elegance inspires refinement, its functionality inspires productivity, and its innovation inspires creativity. We want STACKS to be your agent of inspiration.”
Sorry, I don’t find a block of monochromatic metal to be very inspiring. Might be to others, but is just boring to me. (Damascus steel would be very cool, however) So I found some other pieces of wood that had more character than the walnut or apitong.
Osage orange worked very well. Hard and dense, plus a bit unusual in appearance.
Walnut with sapwood had some good character, but has the weight issue.
With needing to get work done on another project, I didn’t have time to try splitting a blank to add something metal for mass. The best result, as far as I was concerned, was a piece of spalted maple. This particular piece was very dense and weighed as much as the Osage or apitong and the character imparted by the spalting was over the top.
Time wise, it only took about an hour to make 30 blocks out of a variety of woods, plus a bit more time for finishing. Did everything with the table saw, a chisel (to clean up the groove) and some sandpaper.
My conclusion was that wood works just fine at 1×1 if it is dense enough. If wanting to do something like walnut, mass would need added, either by inserting some metal or just making the cubes bigger. 1-1/2” would probably work.
This was a fun little diversion and I’m already thinking of ways to do the shape differently or doing laminated blanks out of two or three different species. The possibilities are endless and there is no reason to pay someone $20 for a single one, when a couple dozen can be made in an hour. I’m just glad to have the skills and opportunity to make my own stuff instead of relying on someone else and paying out the nose for it.
Decided to try one idea real quick this afternoon. Had just a little bit of walnut from around a knot that showed some beautiful grain, so made some blocks with stainless steel “legs” for additional weight. The legs also allow cords to run under them in two directions.
Came out pretty well, and remind me of miniature furniture. Maybe I could market them as cord control ottomans? :-)
Also decided to weigh the various iterations to see where they were at for mass
Walnut – 12.7 grams
Apitong – 14.3g
Osage – 18.2g
Spalted Maple – 16.0g
Ottomans – 29.0g
-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson