Calculator Caddy

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Project by Cosmicsniper posted 10-19-2012 01:49 PM 7870 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Continuing to add some of the fast projects I’ve done, this one is a calculator caddy for the TI-84 calculators in my math classroom. You did know I teach high school math, right?

I’ll spare you my anti-calculator rant…that Texas schools force our kids to use this 20 year old technology because somebody at the state level is probably pocketing monies to use them…that they are nothing but a crutch to learning math…that they are left in the dust by smartphone apps that are totally free. :)

I’m not crazy about the design, as some pockets on the wall work better. If this caddy isn’t full, then the calculators slide and won’t stand up straight. So, I’d build smaller partitions/slots if I were to do it again. However, that complicates things too unnecessarily.

This project was more about just working the wood, red oak in this case. A simple topless box with grooved hardboard bottom, dovetailed corners (using the Incra system) and simple hand-worked mortises for the two dividers.

Finish is walnut Watco danish oil followed by many coats of water-borne GF Enduro-Var urethane semi-gloss. It’s really a beautiful finish that isn’t at all obvious. Very durable as well. The kids can be a bit hard on things like this and only a few nicks on the dividers are evident after a couple of years of use.

-- jay,

13 comments so far

View jeepturner's profile


946 posts in 3806 days

#1 posted 10-19-2012 02:12 PM

Nice box, very functional, yet anyone who knows sees the through mortise and understands it is hand made.

Those might be old tech, but when I was in school they were expensive and you certainly wouldn’t allow them in the class. If they allowed calculators then we wouldn’t have learned the slide rule. I do wonder that at what point in history if ever the math teachers thought the slide rule cheating?

-- Mel,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25940 posts in 4120 days

#2 posted 10-19-2012 02:13 PM

Nice box for some good calculators. I have lot of TI scientific calculators all over the house and love them. I’m from the last century!!

Nice build on the box—the dovetail joints make it stand out, too!!..............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4173 days

#3 posted 10-19-2012 02:35 PM

Thanks, guys!

I should have mentioned that the dividers have tenons, but I figured that would have been obvious. The tenons, if I remember correctly, we’re cut on the router table. I think I had the Wixey digital height gauge installed and this was the first test.

TI calculators are okay. It’s just that I’ve watched kids over the years get really lazy and undisciplined with them. The laziness comes in two ways…not using their brains to do simple calculations (especially with negative numbers) and not knowing how to graph functions on their own. Most of this laziness occurs before we ever get them in high school, so it’s hard to fix.

A lot of emphasis in Texas education is to teach them the calculator as a short-cut to pass our standardized tests. I even attended a mandatory workshop where the leader was advocating that kids no longer needed to factor because you can find zeroes of polynomials by using the calculator instead. Of course, two years later in calculus, the kids will be expected to factor when finding limits and derivatives using their definitions. It’s never the calculus that’s hard…it’s the algebra.

Rant ended.

-- jay,

View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 3185 days

#4 posted 10-19-2012 07:35 PM


I started college calculus when those TI-85(92)s were all the craze. Spent more time fiddling with the damn things than I did learning the theorems. Bit me in the a$$ hard when I started doing 2nd-3rd year Calc / Diff Eqs.

-- Brian

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4591 days

#5 posted 10-19-2012 09:59 PM

The box looks super nice work.


View jm82435's profile


1286 posts in 4756 days

#6 posted 10-19-2012 10:01 PM

Nice job on the caddy, that is very nice.
I am with you, I cannot understand how they still get $130 bucks for them…

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4305 days

#7 posted 10-20-2012 01:09 AM

Interesting – I graduated from high school in 1984, and I must have been part of those in-between years where none of us knew how to use a slide rule, and calculators weren’t allowed. Then, once in college, H-P got its RPN hooks into me, and I can’t use a TI any more.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 4173 days

#8 posted 10-20-2012 01:22 AM

Yeah, I graduated high school in ‘87. We had scientific calculators, like my TI-35, which I still have. It’s solar power. Didn’t really need trig tables anymore, but that didn’t keep us from having to learn them.

My kids can’t understand why I teach unit circles and polar coordinates. Trig simply isn’t useful if you don’t understand WHY you are using it.

Thanks for the comments, folks!

-- jay,

View ajosephg's profile


1895 posts in 4575 days

#9 posted 10-20-2012 01:43 AM

When I graduated from HS we had slide rules!

-- Joe

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3879 days

#10 posted 10-20-2012 09:51 PM

Wow i love the bright yellow, those must have been custom made for the schools.

I was in college in the 90’s and have a TI-85 and I still use it to this day. I do have yet to find a smart phone app that I like as well as that TI-85. A few years back I bought a slide rule and learned how to use it because I figure if there is ever a solar storm bad enough to fry all the electronics it may come in handy to be on of the few engineering my age that knows how to use one.

View Grumpymike's profile


2480 posts in 3329 days

#11 posted 10-21-2012 06:37 PM

Just love the comments about the calculators … When I was in High school, in the 60’s, we had pencils and erasers … and some of us nerds (we were called something different then) carried the slip stick on our belt like a sward.
I went back to school (I was 57) and the C.C. I attended used the TI-83. I still have and use every day, my TI-86, but to be honest I have 3 or 4 TI-36’s around the shop that do everything I use any more.
The TI-36 is about $15 and the TI-86 is about $135. And I will say this … I have done no graphing since I was in school.
Great box with nice craftsmanship. your organazational skills show through.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View ajosephg's profile


1895 posts in 4575 days

#12 posted 10-22-2012 01:03 AM

My first programmable calculator was an HP 35 that had magnetic memory sticks and cost about $500.00 if my memory is correct. It used Reverse Polish Notation instead of Algebraic Notation to enter data. Really liked that feature. Only calculator that I actually wore out.

-- Joe

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3021 days

#13 posted 05-28-2013 05:25 PM

”those in-between years where none of us knew how to use a slide rule, and calculators weren’t allowed.”
“When I graduated from HS we had slide rules!”
“when I was in school they were expensive and you certainly wouldn’t allow them in the class.”

Hey, they finally got rid of the ABACCUS? Wow, when did THAT happen? :-)

I know this is an old post but if you still have problems with them sliding down in the box, pick up a roll of that rubber drawer liner and cut it to fit the bottom of the box. They’ll slide no more.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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