Best method for Kaizen Inserts

I have always wanted to do nice drawer organizers for my toolbox. I have done the cut and pluck foam in the past and it’s ok but now that I have a CNC…

Has anyone discovered a good way convert your tools to dxf?

It seems that some of the online services want you to put a quarter in each corner and send them a picture which they will use to make your foam inserts. I have tried a few ways but trying to figure out the fastest method for me.

Photos are taken from 4ft above the board to try to reduce camera distortion.

Here is what I’ve tried

  1. Lay the tools on a piece of paper, trace with a pen. Then scan it and try to trace bitmap with inkscape.- not good quality and time consuming.

  2. Put a known size object on a board with the tools, take a picture with my phone. Insert image into soldiworks and trace with the spline tool. - works ok, the spline tool is not the best in SolidWorks because it doesn’t let you easily connect curves to straight lines quickly.

  3. Same as above but trace it in inkscape, then save as dxf. - this seems to work well. Still learning the program so it’s slow going. Snapping lines vertical and horizontal seems to be tricky and scaling the image on a known object is not ideal.

I have not tried to cut any results of the methods above but that shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s generating the dxf that’s time consuming.

Has anyone tried anything else that might be quick to do that I have not yet tried?

I did the inkscape thing. It works, but it’s a pain in the ass.

Also, this is one of those exercise mat things that lock together that they sell at lowes.

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Using a mat is a good idea. Yours turned out pretty good!

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You could also try scanning the tool directly on the scanner.

I have done a decent job taking a photo of something on graph paper. In photoshop, you can make a 4 corner selection and then skew the image so it is a specific dimension. I used gimp to do it when I tried last. That will mostly take out the worst perspective error. I then used the lasso tool to make the object black on white and then I just did the minimum in inkscape to convert it to svg.

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The last few months I been using the LowRyder to make custom case inserts for Video Record Kits for some “Not in person Video Records”. Cases that can be shipped out to clients and once they setup the gear we can remotely controle it and record 4K videos for future corporate promotional videos. Anyways …
Some of the gear was easyer to just mesuare, some I had to "reverse engenieer " and creat a 3D model of it to be able to cut the foam.
I could not find any easy way to do it, meaning short cut on my time creating the files.
I did try everything you said only to wast time. the pictures bellow is from the 1st case I built, that reminds me that I need to take more pictures of future cases.


I’m going to toss in an untested (for this use) idea. Cut out silhouettes of your tools from black construction paper or black poster board, scan in the silhouettes, then the shapes can be auto-converted to paths in a variety of tools including Inkscape. In a number of situations I’ve had to 3D model something that has to mate with a real world item. Photographs with their perspective/parallax frequently have problems, but doing a 2D cutout and scanning the result gets the job done.

Note that you can scan and then convert multiple cutouts at the same time. You might even be able to stretch that idea and place all the cutouts on white poster board in the configuration you want for your final case, carefully photograph the result, and then convert the whole pattern in one go.

Again, untested, but it is what occurred to me when I read your post yesterday.


I need to redo the ones I just did for some air-guns I bought.

For the first round I just did them by hand, but I’m not happy with the results at all.

My plan is the sharpie, paper, scanner route. I’m going to outline them with the sharpie, then import them into illustrator and create a path along the line.

The hard part for me is that my enclosure isn’t square and it’s tapered from top to bottom.

Another post someone mentioned cutting cardboard with their laser to test some parts. I’m going to do the same here when I get around to it to test the layout before wasting the foam.


Hi all,

I ran across an app and accompanying website whose sole function is to help design layouts for tools, etc.

I have played around with it a little bit, but will hopefully be able to spend some more time with it soon. If you try it out, let us know how it goes.

My first post on this forum, hope it’s helpful!



I just played around with that a bit. It seems brilliant! Will have to try some more complicated tools this evening

Excellent! I just upgraded my tool chest. It’s on my list of things to get organized. It’s a long, long, list…

But first, build a MPCNC…

So I tried the app, it’s a bit clunky but once you get the hang of it, it works really well. It’s easy to adjust the trace afterwards without making it too complicated, adds the fingers holes which is nice.

Some downsides

  1. Website seems to download the dxf multiple times
  2. The app will say only 1 photo but somehow it stores all the photos you take and the imports them when you go to edit them
  3. I wish there was a scale option to make everything a little bigger. I might cheat this by cutting off 1mm from the background paper on two sides.

Very impressive how good it is at scaling the image for you. Everything was a bit tight but probably ok in a softer foam. Here was my test.

From photos to finish cutting this took about 15 minutes while learning the app.

Is it the most beautiful thing? No. Is it good enough for a home shop? Absolutely


Can it do multiple depths on the same part? My airbrush has some parts that are deeper than others.

You can add circles and squares to the item which you can then set to different depths in your gcode generator, in my case estlcam. It would probably be a little bit of a guessing game though

In terms of scaling, I realized I might be able to set a negative finishing pass in estlcam so that it cuts everything bit big.

That would be good enough for me.

I could always import the DXF into Fusion 360 and use that to make a 3d version of the cut. I typically use Fusion 360’s CAM for my designs anyways.

Totally, I think it would also help to have two opposing lights on the side of the object to eliminate shadows when looking from the top down. The more crisp the perimeter the better the trace but it tells you in the app when you take the picture whether it was good or not

I can’t remember where I found out about this app, but I think the developer was talking about stopping its service as he’s a lone fella working on it in doesn’t have an abundance of time. I also think he has said he might make a repository if there was enough interest.


This is true, I had contacted him with some feedback and he actually got right back to me. Said if there is enough interest he can make some adjustments to the app.

Maybe if enough people use it here we can give the guy some support! Sounds like he runs a small laser for cutting customer parts.

Hi Rob,

Thanks for trying out my product. This is the founder/developer of toolKaiser. Perhaps I can quickly answer the issues you mentioned here.

  1. I think it downloads multiple DXFs because there are perhaps multiple toolboxes. If you look at the top panel, there is a dropdown for creating new toolboxes (in fact there is also in the list a way to create custom non-rectangular toolboxes). So if you have multiple toolboxes, it will download a DXF for each one of them.
  2. Usually, in the home screen of the app, it shows the total number of photos you have taken till now minus any that you have deleted. Not sure what happened when it shows you 1 photo on the main page and imports all of them in the editor. Perhaps you can go to the ‘Check’ screen to see if all photos are there are not.
  3. I never made this option because laser cutting always burns a little bit off. But since you are using a CNC I presume, it could be tight.

Thanks again for your positive feedback on the forum.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will keep the app & the software running as is (forever). I have downgraded a few services (so I pay minimal amount every year) so things might be a little slow, but it is still perfectly usable. Unfortunately, I’ve stopped the development of the app & the software because I’ve no time and I also closed down my cutting business.

I’ll end with a few pointers:

1.) When you take pictures of your tools, just make sure that the background is plain with good contrast to the white paper.
2.) You can place multiple tools on the same white paper, just make sure there is sufficient space between the tools and the tools and the boundary.
3.) Take the pictures from at least 1.5 meters so that the outlines are accurate.
4.) You can glue (with a tape, just make sure the tape is on the ‘backside’) multiple papers together to make a large sheet of paper and place 20/30 tools. Just make sure that you change the paper size to whatever you used in the editor to get the exact size of the tools.
5.) No need to take pictures of your sockets. I’ve an exhaustive library of sockets and you can add them right from the editor. Just click on ‘enable expert mode’ and click on ‘library’ to get the sockets.
6.) My Facebook page and YouTube channel for the product has a lot of instructional videos on HowTo. Please check them out.

If you do find the product useful, please rate it on the app stores and like it on the Facebook and YouTube channel. That’s my only hope of some more visibility.

Thanks again for your attention and much appreciate the discussion about toolKaiser.

Best regards.
PS: I had to put quote around the links. Somehow it doesn’t allow me to post links.


I forgot to mention that sometimes the DXF might not work on some lasers. One solution is to download the SVG file and then use any free software such as Inkscape to save it as a DXF. When you save it as DXF in Inkscape, just make sure that the “unit” is set to “mm”. This will get you the correct scaling. Thanks again.

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