In my home office and workshop area I use a lot of IKEA ALEX drawer units. I use them both as cabinets under my desk and as standalone cabinets in which I store many of the tools and materials I use for my hobbies. The cabinets are a great solution for storing and organizing a lot of different items in a small surface area, while still having them easily accessible.
When I recently upgraded my old desk to a new desk with IKEA ALEX cabinets I wanted to have a way to keep track of what I keep in which drawers. For that reason I set out to design and build a labeling system for the drawers. I wanted the system to have the following properties:
- Easily readable labels that can be swapped out when I change the content of a drawer.
- No permanent modifications to the front of the drawers.
- Ideally I also wanted to tackle the problem of dust entering through the existing handle hole.
What I came up with is this:
The handle has multiple functions: it has a slot to hold a label, it allows the drawer to be opened with a more ergonomic underhand grip and it covers the original hole in the drawer, so any dust is kept out.
The handle drops in place in the drawer so that no permanent modifications to the front of the drawers are necessary. The installation is completely reversible. The handles are secured in place with two small screws in the back. As far as I can tell the system is compatible with any of the IKEA ALEX products.
These are just some of the possible combinations, but hopefully enough to give an idea of what is possible.
To help you organize your stuff, I have described below how to make and use the custom 3D printed labels, as well as the materials and tools that are required for the project.
Materials (per drawer)
- Customized label
The links to the 3D printable .STL files can be found in the Files & Print Settings section below.
Files & Print Settings
The .STL files for 3D printing as well as the label customizer can be downloaded on Thingiverse.
I printed the handles with a 0.6 mm nozzle, 0.72 mm extrusion width and 0.3 mm layer height. I set the infill to 20% and outer shells to 1. It is important to use support material for the handles. In order to remove the support material with ease I recommend a 2 mm horizontal separation setting and 1 upper separation layer.
I printed the labels with a 0.4 mm nozzle so that the text has finer detail. For printing the labels in two colors with a single extruder a good tutorial can be found here.
Having labels on the drawers has made it a lot easier to me to find what I am looking for. I particularly like the alternating colors I used for the labels and the different color schemes for each ALEX drawer unit. My home office and workshop area look a lot nicer now.
It was the first time I used OpenSCAD for something. I had to get used to the script-based modelling, but once I got a handle on it (pun intended) it went smoothly. After writing the initial code to generate the labels it was relatively easy to add extra fonts, customizable dimensions, etc. The braille implementation was a bit more of a challenge, but worth it if there is even one person that will make use of it. You can expect to see more projects that use OpenSCAD here in the near future.
If you liked this project or have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or check out some of my other stuff on the all projects page.
Last update on 2019-11-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Affiliate Disclosure