Introduction: Awesome Shadow Board

Here's a reasonably easy way to make a stonking shadow board. Read on for more details!

Step 1: Getting Started

I wanted to make a shadow board for my bike maintenance tools, but I lacked the patience to draw round tools and then fill in the shapes. I also wanted to be able to move things around as I wished, and so here's my guide to making a great shadow board.

You will need:

  • A piece of ply of an appropriate size. Mine was 1200x700mm. You could buy pegboard but I wanted something substantial and versatile. I plumped for 6mm ply. It's easily available and strong, two things pegboard isn't.
  • Some timber to allow the board to stand off from the wall
  • Matt black paint
  • White self-adhesive vinyl
  • Screws and other hangers for your tools. I used some screws and some tool hangers from eBay.
  • Fixtures as appropriate
  • A piece of wood for the screwdriver rack

You'll also need your tools to lay out on the board so you can decide where they will go!

Step 2: First Make Your Board...

Paint your board black (or whatever colour you want for your shadows). Give it plenty of time to dry - preferably overnight.

Then carefully cover the board with your vinyl. Make sure you don't get air bubbles under the vinyl, as this looks bad and can really mess up cutting the outlines of your tools. Take your time - the board's going to be on your wall for years, so don't mess up and let it bug you forever*.

Finally, make some timber edges for the board. This will make it easy to fit to the wall, as well as giving a stand-off for the screws and hangers you will use later on. I used 22x50mm planed. Covering the board before attaching the edges locks in the vinyl, preventing the edges peeling in the future.

* unless you're a bodger, in which case give up now...

Step 3: Make a Screwdriver Rack

To keep screwdrivers and hex wrenches tidy, you might want to make a rack. You should do this before laying out the tools on the board, so you know how much space you will need to allow.

I drilled out a piece of painted wood, making sure the two rows of holes were equally spaced. I also drilled holes of differing sizes according to the tool to be stored.

Step 4: Lay Out Your Tools

You are going to need to decide where each tool will go, so lay them out on the flat board, rearranging as needs be.


  • line up the tops of similar tools such as spanners
  • take care to space tools tidily
  • if you have a larger set of matching tools, consider putting them in two lines (e.g. my combination spanners (bottom right)
  • I put a couple of fluorescent strip lights at the top of my board for extra shadow-free bench lighting.

You don't need to cover the whole board - leave space for buying lots more lovely tools!

Then take a photo so you know where they will go!

As you can see, I actually laid mine out before covering with vinyl.

Step 5: Make Your Holes

Now the fun bit - you need to drill your holes as required for hangers, or put hanging screws in place as needed.

Obviously, guide lines need to be carefully drawn parallel to the edge of the board, and you need to double check spacings so you can actually grab tools. Measure twice, drill once!

Some hangers need a couple of holes apiece, so be extra sure to align them properly, or your tool will hang at a jaunty angle forever.

Once you've finished making holes, mount the board on the wall in it's final position.

Step 6: Shadow Time!

Now the fun begins.

Hang your tools on your board, letting them settle in their natural position.

I took a metal filler from a ballpoint pen, and used it to carefully trace around each tool. Removing the filler from the case made it much thinner and made tracing easier as a result.

Remove your tools. Use a craft knife with a brand-new blade to cut through the vinyl outlines you have made, and peel off the shadows. Take your time, but remember:

  • It's not brain surgery
  • If you really screw up, you can put a vinyl patch on to cover your mistake

Step 7: And Breathe...

You've done!

Enjoy using your board.

Final hint...

Use your phone to photograph anyone who borrows a tool, holding the tool in question! You'll be really cross if you lend out your 14mm Britool spanner then forget who has it (like I did).

Thanks for reading my Instructable.