Introduction: Custom Tool Wall

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics and Aerospace Engineer. I make things out of wood and electronics and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving).

Work space organization should be a top priority for any maker. Having a very small workshop/garage that I share with my car, utilizing every surface is a must. Deciding to move the bulk of my tool storage to the wall not only freed up much needed space on my workbench, but it makes locating that one tool much easier. When it's time to put everything away, everything has a spot making it easy to see exactly what is not where it should be.

Step 1: Planning

After having a pegboard system for many years, I didn't quite like how it worked and held my tools. Some tools always wanted to fall off and I felt that a lot of space was either wasted or cramped due to the preset distance of the pegs. When deciding on what kind of system I wanted to setup, I opted to not set up a french cleat system as I felt that once set up, the tool holders wouldn't need to be moved. French cleats have their place, but I didn't feel that my tool wall was the place for them.

If your workbench has ever looked like the first image, you are definitely in need of a tool wall. Before you get started on any tool holders, pull everything you think that you'll want to store on the wall out and sort it all. Decide what you want to have easily accessible and what you want to store in your tool box for less use. Once you've got a rough idea of what holders you need to make, start making!

Step 2: Screwdriver Holder

I have a fairly nice set of Klein screwdrivers that I use all the time. Naturally I wanted these to be easily accessible. I made this holder similar to a shelf with notches in it. All of the holes drilled in the top of the shelf match the base profile around the handle so they all rest securely. My original plan was to just have holes in it to lift the screwdrivers out of. After further thought, I didn't like that idea because it would mean I would need empty space above the holder to allow for the screwdrivers to be removed. Using the band saw, I cut notches from the front of the holder to each side of the hole large enough to let the screwdrivers pass through.

Step 3: Nut Driver Holder

This holder is made in the exact same fashion as the screwdriver holder. Though this one was much simpler as the handle profile is the exact same conical shape for all the nut drivers.

Step 4: Chisel Holder

I really liked the idea of being able to see the size of each chisel while in the holder. This was made by laying out each chisel evenly and marking the width of each. Using a flat tooth blade on the table saw, cut dados that fit the size of each chisel. Cut a piece of Plexiglas the size of the holder and clamp in place. Drill the first few holes through the Plexiglas into the wood and secure with pan head screws. Repeat this process with the other half. Mount a back piece of wood to allow you a place to secure the holder to your tool wall.

Step 5: Hand Plane Holder

These hand plane holders are inspired by Matthias Wandel. Start with a piece of scrap wood the width of your plane and a few inches longer on each side. Cut a small channel in the base for clearance of your blade. On another piece, draw out the profile of the heel of the plane and cut it out on the band saw. Glue that piece in place. I forgot to take pictures of this part, but find another piece of scrap wood the thickness of your plane and glue that to the top. Cut a "fork" out of another piece of scrap that fits around the front knob and glue in place. Glue edges on each side of the holder to help guide the plane in place when inserting in the holder.

I didn't want to make a tiny holder for my smallest plane, so a magnet held in with epoxy in the top of one of the plane holders is enough to secure this small plane in place.

Step 6: Combination Wrench Holder

This is a very simple holder utilizing dowels at an angle to secure my sets of metric and SAE combination wrenches. Once evenly spaced, the holes were drilled just above center using a drill press. The dowels were then glued in place.

Step 7: Framing Square Holder

The framing square is secured by the use of two L shaped brackets.

Step 8: Square Shelf

This shelf was made to hold my combination, try, and set of machinist squares. A hole was later drilled to hold my scratch awl. The shelf has ledges on each side to hold the squares from falling off. A slot was cut where the squares were positioned centered to each other.

Step 9: Tape Measure Shelf

This is a simple shelf with a ledge around the hole thing to keep my tape measures from falling off.

Step 10: Drill Press Vise Holder

The drill press vice is held on with two hooks made from wood attached to a scrap piece of wood. These hooks fit through the sides of the vise to hold it in place. This makes for easy removal by lifting it up and off the holder.

Step 11: Hammer Holder

These hammers are held in place with the same technique as the combination wrenches. With a larger angled dowel, these hammers should never fall off the wall.

Step 12: Marking Gauge Holder

The marking gauge holder was made from a simple block. Using a spade or forstner bit, drill a shallow hole the size of the base of the gauge. This will give an edge for the marking gauge to hold onto. Drill through the center of the previous hole just a bit larger than the shaft of the marking gauge. Using a band saw, remove the front of the holder to reveal the internal slot. Drill a hole through the back of the slot to secure the holder to the wall.

Step 13: Pliers Holder

The pliers holder is simply a dowel supported by two end pieces. This holder can be adapted to any length depending on how may pliers you have.

Step 14: Depth Gauge Holder

My depth gauge has two magnets attached to the bottom of it. Utilizing this, I embedded two magnets in a piece of scrap wood that will attach to the magnets of the depth gauge.

Step 15: Speed Square Holder

I have one larger and one smaller speed squares. They each have the same hole in the same location. This allowed an easy stepped holder that could support both squares at once.

Step 16: Miscellaneous Holders

Some tools used the same technique to create their holders so I didn't take any pictures of the process.

I have a cheap set of brad point drill bits that I removed from their case. I just cut out a piece of wood that would match their profile to hold them up straight. This holder was screwed to a scrap wood backing.

I have a larger shelf that was made similarly to my tape measure holder. The only difference is that this has multiple supports holding it from the bottom to ensure that it can hold more weight.

I had a few pencil holders that I made some time ago by drilling a large hole with a forstner bit in a piece of scrap wood, then securing it to the wall through the clearance hole through the front.

My digital angle gauge and dial indicator are held on a shelf. They are made in the same fashion as the tape measure shelf.

Some tools are secured by small nails just like my digital calipers are.

Step 17: Layout

Once you are happy with all of your holders, lay them out with the most common tools within reach.

Step 18: Populate the Tool Wall

This is the exciting part! You are now ready to attach all of your holders to the wall. Making sure that all of your holders are level as you go, you can line up similar holders. I did this with my screwdrivers and nut drivers. This allowed me to have one more space for my ratcheting bit driver that I hadn't even planned for.

Have you made a tool wall yourself? Do you have any suggestions for improvement for my own organization or others reading this? If so, share your knowledge in the comments!

Woodworking Contest 2017

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest 2017