How to Build a Tool Rack

Learn how to build a tool rack and corral all your tools onto one giant, organized wall. With easy slat construction and versatile tool hangers, you can reorganize your wall rack as your tools change.

| April 2, 2012

  • How To Make Workbenches
    Build storage cabinets for your tools, outfeed tables for shop machines and more in “How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions” from the Experts of “American Woodworker.” Clear-cut instructions and accompanying photographs will have you building like an aircraft engineer, super-flat and strong with a torsion box workbench, assembly table and alignment beams.
    COVER: FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • David L Pickard
    “My passion for woodworking began as a teenager, so I was thrilled to receive my great-great-grandfather’s wooden hand planes and other tools when I was newly married. I enjoy designing and building furniture, because of the challenging joinery and different styles. Building my own router table, miter saw table, and workbenches has also been satisfying.” — David L. Pickard
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Tool Rack
    Each tool hanger has a bottom groove that allows it to slip snugly onto any of the slats. This nifty feature makes the hangers easy to move, so you can rearrange your rack to accommodate newly acquired tools.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • L Shaped Jig
    Use an L-shaped jig to assure uniform spacing when you screw the slats to the frame.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Added Slat
    Check periodically to make sure the assembly remains square. Each added slat stiffens the frame.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • The Rack
    The rack consists of slats fastened to a frame. Assemble the frame with one screw at each joint. Clamps hold the frame square during assembly.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Cut Grooves
    Cut grooves in a long, wide board to make tool hanger blanks. Make the grooves a hair wider than the slats.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Tool Rack Facing
    To create custom-fit hangers, lay all your tools onto a large table, then group them according to the types of notches you think they’ll require. Sawing slots, installing dowels, drilling holes, chopping mortises or adding lipped edging will accommodate most tools.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Drilled End Mortise
    Drilled end, mortise
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Last Slat Oversize
    Leave the last slat oversize. Mark the edge and trim the slat to width. This method is easier than trying to exactly size all the parts.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Hammer Holder
    1 7/8-inch Hole diameter
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Applied Edge Dado
    Applied edge, dado
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Diameter Dowel
    3/8-inch Diameter dowel, 7/16-inch (typ.)
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Lipped Edging
    Lipped edging keeps planes in place.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Lip
    1/8-inch to 1/4-inch Lip
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Acrylic Shield
    Acrylic shields glued into grooves protect hands from sharp edges.
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Chart
    Dimensions for parts of the tool rack
    FOX CHAPEL PUBLISHING
  • Use these measurements when building your tool rack.

  • How To Make Workbenches
  • David L Pickard
  • Tool Rack
  • L Shaped Jig
  • Added Slat
  • The Rack
  • Cut Grooves
  • Tool Rack Facing
  • Drilled End Mortise
  • Last Slat Oversize
  • Hammer Holder
  • Applied Edge Dado
  • Diameter Dowel
  • Lipped Edging
  • Lip
  • Acrylic Shield
  • Chart

If loose screws always scatter when you open a drawer or you can never find the right hammer, then How to Make Workbenches & Shop Storage Solutions: 28 Projects to Make Your Workshop More Efficient (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2011) is your guide to getting organized. Everything you wanted to know about building a workbench, making work tables and constructing storage cabinets for tools, materials and supplies can be found in this comprehensive book. Learn how to build a tool rack in this excerpt taken from the Chapter “Tool Storage.” 

Whether you have an exquisite collection of antique tools or the latest in high-tech gear, this versatile wall rack stores them all within easy reach. It’s easy to build and adapts to fit virtually any wall space. The 48-by-48-inch rack is made from poplar, but any hardwood or combination of hardwoods will work. Each tool hanger has a bottom groove that allows it to slip snugly onto any of the slats. This nifty feature makes the hangers easy to move, so you can rearrange your rack to accommodate newly acquired tools.

The biggest — and most fun — challenge this rack presents is figuring out how to modify the hangers to display your unique collection of tools.

See the dimensions chart in the Image Gallery for measurements of parts.



Build the Tool Rack

1. Cut and plane stiles and rails for the rack’s frame to 1-inch thick and 1 1/4-inches wide. Their lengths depend on the size of the tool rack you plan to build. Internal stiles can be spaced up to 24 inches on center. Dry-assemble the frame and drill pilot holes through the rails and into the end-grain of the stiles. Then screw the frame together. (For step-by-step images, click through the illustrations on page 1 of this article.)

2. Plane and cut the horizontal slats to 1/2-inch thick and 2  7/16-inches wide. Leave one slat about 1/2 inch oversize in width — plan to attach this slat last. Cut the slats to length to fit your frame.






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