Tool Rack

Instructions for building the Hand Tool Storage Rack

These hand tool storage racks can be built to the size that best fits various woodshop layouts and available wall space. The ones pictured on the are 4’ high by 4’ wide and could have been built 4’ high by 8’ wide or any other size to fit your wall space. You decide on the size that best fits your woodshop plans. The racks pictured are built from poplar. Although poplar is considered a hard wood, it is one of the softer hardwoods and is much less expensive. It is also easy to work with and tends to finish straight once cut and planed. Because it is softer, you have a little flexibility in getting a good tight fit for the tool holders that sit over the edge of the slats. However, you can build the rack out of any other hardwood or even a softwood such as pine. Please note that as you review the detailed dimensions of the components of the hand tool storage rack pictured, you have flexibility to size the rack and components to any size that meets your tool storage situation. The dimensions quoted are what was used in this wood working plan example. Tools Needed The main tools needed for woodshop project include a table saw, mitre saw, thickness planer, band or jig saw, mortiser, hand square, and hand drill with various size drill bits. You can make the crosscuts on your table saw and eliminate the need for a mitre saw but it is much easier with a mitre saw. The same applies to having a drill press. Also, you could make round holes in all your tool holders and eliminate the need for the mortiser which makes square holes. A dado blade for your table saw is helpful but not necessary. Step 1 - Building the Frame: Decide on the size of rack(s) you want to build and then build the hand tool storage system. The length of the frame can be made to fit your available wall space as can the height. However, be sure to calculate the frame height so that the slats cover the entire frame with the same exact space left between each slat (read Step 2 for slat dimensions and spacing to determine the height of your frame). The frame pictured was built from poplar strips planed to 7/8” thick and 1 1/8” wide. The vertical frame strips that the slats fasten to are 14’ on center. These could be make 16” on center so when you are mounting the rack to a wall it would match the 2’x4’ studs in most walls. However, depending on your woodshop plans and the room you have on your shop wall, it might not match the studs anyway. To provide more flexibility in mounting your hand tool storage rack, screw horizontal strips (same size as the vertical strips) to the top and bottom of the vertical strips to make a complete frame. This strengthens the frame, saves you aligning the vertical strips as you screw the slats on, and allows you to drill screw holes anywhere along the top and bottom of the horizontal strip to match the studs in your wall when mounting. Countersink Frame_Assemblyscrew holes along the top and bottom horizontal strips 14” on center(see Figure 1). Find a flat surface big enough to accommodate your hand tool storage rack frame. Lay the vertical strips parallel to each other and the top horizontal strip perpendicular to the vertical strips. The vertical strip should be at the end of your work table to accommodate assembly. Center the vertical strips on the screw holes just drilled in the top horizontal strip and drill a pilot hole in each end of the vertical strips using a drill bit slightly smaller than the countersink screw holes drilled in the horizontal strip. This will keep the ends of the vertical strips from splitting when screwing the top and bottom horizontal strips to the. Apply wood glue to the end of the vertical strips and secure each one to the top horizontal strip using a 2” wood screw. Repeat pilot hole procedure and assembly procedure for the bottom horizontal strip. Step 2 - Mounting Slats to Frame NextSlats cut and plane enough horizontal slats to cover the tool rack frame. The slats on the rack pictured are 1/2” thick and 2 1/2” wide. The length should be cut to fit the frame that you just finished assembling. The spacing between the slats should be made to accommodate sliding the tool holders (groove on the bottom, the same thickness as the slat) in between the slats and then pushing them down onto the top of the slat (see Figure 2). The tool holders shown are 3/4” thick. Plane several boards to be used as spacers slightly thicker (25/32”) than the tool holder thickness. At this point it is also recommended that you plane a number of boards 3/4” thick for your tool holders which you will cut to fit the tools you are trying to mount on your rack. Tool holders can be made from scraps laying around from your past woodshop projects. Just be sure they are big enough to manage on your table saw because you will need to cut a 1/2” groove length wise on the underside of each board so it can be cut up to various size tool holders (the groove on the underside of the tool holder fits over the top of the slat on your hand tool storage rack). Most tool holders (screwdrivers, chisels, pliers, tape measures, etc) on the rack shown are 2 1/4” wide but this will vary depending on the tool you are trying to accommodate. Wider boards (5”-8”) work well because they can be grooved on the underside along both edges length wise. You can then use both edges of the board for tool holders by cutting them to the width needed. Once you have dimensioned the slats, cut them to the horizontal width of the frame finished in Step 1. Center one screw hole every 14” along each slat in order to attach them to the vertical frame strips. Once completed, align the first slat flush with the top or bottom of the tool rack frame and attach with a 1” wood screw (no glue needed). Using the slat spacers that you made previously, attach the next slat and continue until the entire frame is covered (if you calculated the frame size correctly in Step 1, the last slat should fit flush with the horizontal frame edge. Step 3 - Frame the Rack (this step is optional)Rack_Framing The rack pictured has been framed to improve its looks by hiding the slat ends (see Figure 3) but it is not necessary. It depends how particular you are about your woodshop plans and if you want your various woodshop tool layouts to reflect a finished product. Framing it also adds some support but if it is secured adequately to your shop wall, it is also not necessary. The frame edge is 3/4” thick and 1 1/2” wide. It sticks out from the front of the slat about 1/4”. Measure the length of each side of the rack and cut the frame to size accordingly. The corners can be mitred at 45 degrees or simply end butted depending on your preference. Step 4 - Attaching the Tool Store Rack to Your Wall Determine the height to mount your tool rack and locate the wall studs using a stud finder. Drill countersink screw holes along the top and bottom horizontal strip of the frame (see mounting screw in Figure 3) at the appropriate locations to match your wall studs. Other wall types might require other mounting techniques such as molly bolts, nails, or other type fasteners. Step 5 - Making the Tool Holders Various sizes of tool holders can be made depending on the tools you are trying to accommodate. The most important thing in making the tools holders is the size of the groove which allows them to fit over the top edge of the slats. Figure 4 shows the groove on the bottom of a tool holder..Groove You might have to experiment to get the groove so it fits snugly over the slat edge. The grooves on the tool holders pictured are slightly less than 1/2” wide and can be from 3/8” to 7/16” deep. They are 1/4” away from the tool holder edge. You can use a dado saw blade or make various passes with your table saw blade to cut the grooves. Just be sure the groove fits tight over the slat edge. Cut the tool holders to the various lengths and widths needed for your specific tools. This system shows hole drilled in the tool holders for screwdrivers but square mortises used for chisels and pliers. Slots were cut in the tool rack holders to accommodate saws, squares, and other measuring tools. Likewise, a simple shelve can be made for your hand planes or other items. On this page are pictures of various tool holders made for the rack. Note the tool holders can be make longer than the 14” vertical spacing of the frame. Simply, cut away the portion of the holder that touches the vertical frame pieces up to the back of the groove in the tool holder bottom. It’s easy to design your own tool holders to fit on the rack. To aid you in the process, below are various pictures of tools and tool holders shown on the rack feature in these instructions along with any applicable notes. notes. Your particular wood working plans might call for something different. That’s the magic of this hand tool storage rack! You can design the tool holders anyway you desire.
This plane shelf is just that...a shelf for the plane to sit on. A lip could be put on the outer edge of the shelf similar to the examples in American Woodworker (second to the last picture from the bottom) if desired.


























The level, angle gauge, and calipers are hanging from a this simple tool hanger made with a dowel.
This hammer holder was made with a Forstner bit but could have just as easely been cut with a band or jig saw.


Adapt shelves to fit big or little squares. Put a slot in the shelf or hang your square over a plain shelf.
The chisel holder on the right was made with a mortiser while the carving tool holder on the left was made with a 1/2” drill bit. Because of the various widths on the chisel blades, be sure and center the handles of the chisel so they are equal distance apart then determine where the slot for the chisel blade should be on the tool holder. Notice the distance between the slots is not the same. The space between the slots gets wider as you go from the larger to smaller chisels. Notice both holders are longer than the spacing between the vertical slats so the back of the tool holder was notched out to accommodate the vertical slats.
Other various tools and hand tool storage holders. The racks for measuring tapes are simple shelves. The rack for hand saws is made by cutting slots in the tool holder to accommodate the saw blades. The slots were first mortised for the pliers and then a forstner bit was used to widen the middle of the slots for the bolt on the pliers
Woodshopics hopes this is one of your better woodshop projects. It might keep you from buying an expensive tool storage kit as well as add to the your unique woodshop layout.