Introduction: Garden Tool Holder - Pinball Flipper Style

About: Pay it Forward. You Get what you Give.

This sturdy, auto-adjust design will hold all your pole handle type tools.  Great for rakes, shovels, brooms, and more.
This design was made with parts laying around the garage.  You can buy similar finshed products for about $10.  I've seen single flipper products for about $3.50.

By making your own - you are in control.  Tweak it as you like. 

Step 1: What You Need

3/4" square aluminum tube
old bike tire
1/4" hex bolt
1/4" nut
elastic banding
3/4" plywood (not much!)
1/8" rivets
sandpaper (optional)

drill bits
1/4" tap
rivet tool
wire or bolt cutter
metal file
belt/disc sander (optional)

Step 2: Cut and Shape Plywood "flippers"

Each finished flipper will fit inside a 3"x4" rectangle.
Plywood is importantl.  I do not recommend solid wood.
Plywood is more structurally sound.  Solid wood would be more likely to split.
  1. Cut two pieces of 3/4" plywood into "pinball flipper" shape.
  2. Drill two 1/4" holes.  See diagram.
  3. Drill two 1/8" holes.  See diagram.
You may notice that mine look like the bottom drawing.  The top would be the standard way, but I wanted something easy. (especially if I am going to make 30 of these!)

Optionally you can sand the flippers to make them nicer.
I stacked my flippers together and sanded them with a disc sander.
When I stacked them, I also inserted rods into the holes - so they were "indexed" and sanding resulted in identical shapes.
(you don't have to do this - it is a nice result)

Step 3: Prepare Square Tube

I used 3/4" square aluminum tube.  
You could use steel and or something larger. 
However, I would not recommend smaller.

  1. Cut a 6" length of the square tube.  I used a hack saw. 
  2. Drill and tap two holes to accept 1/4" - 20 thread bolt.
  3. Drill access and mounting holes in the square tube.  Done in two steps:
  • Drill a larger hole on front facing surface of square tube.  This is an access hole so you can put a screws and a screwdriver into the tube to reach the back facing surface of the square tube.
  • Drill a smaller hole in the back facing surface. A mounting screw will tighten through and against this hole.
  1. Cut a 6" length of the square tube.
  2. File sharp edges of square tube to prevent cuts.

Step 4: Attach Rubber Tire Grip to Flippers

An old bike tire is used to add extra grip to the cams.  I used a discarded knobby tire from a mountain bike.  Some notes about harvesting rubber section from tire...

Most tires will have a steel bead running around both  sides of the tire.  The bead helps hold the tire in place under the lip of the wheel rim.  Regular wire cutters can cut the bead, but I found that bolt cutters worked much better.  Scissors would probably not work.  You may damage scissors trying to cut the bead.   The bead in my tire was actually 3 separate (non twisted) hard steel single strand wires.  They were very thin but very strong.  Reminded me of spring steel.  I kept them for projects later.

Once you cut throught the bead, cut out a nice piece of tread.  You will likely want a segment about 3/4" x 4". 
Test the size by fitting on the flippers,   

Then drill 1/8" holes in the tread and the flippers - so you can later insert rivets.
I suggest drilling the tread and the flipper together to keep things lined up.
I used three 1/8" rivets.  I found that 1/4" lenght rivets were a bit short, so I increased to 3/8" lenght.  Worked great.  For clarification:  I used 1/8" diameter rivets that have a lenght of 3/8"    You can adjust sizing as you need.  Suggest placing rivet between "knobs" of the tire tread. 

Now, when I'm driving down the highway and see tire treads sitting off on the shoulder - I often think - THAT could be useful...

Step 5: Mount the "flippers" Onto the Square Tube

Mount each flipper onto the square tube with the bolt and nut.  The flipper will rotate freely on the bolt.  The nut will tighten the bolt against the square tube. Be sure to leave a reasonable amount of play on the bolt shaft so the flipper is still free to rotate.  Done correctly, the bolt will be tight and secure against the square tube and the flipper will rotate easily. 

Next cut a piece of elastic cord and thread through the backside of flippers.  Elastic will gently hold flippers back in a closed "home" position when a tool is removed from the hanger.  The elastic is held in position with a single knot seen on the front side of each flipper.  Adjust the tightness of elastic such that it A) returns flippers to home and B) is not so tight that it impedes mounting a tool in the holder.

Step 6: Mount Holder to Wall

Using screws, mount the holder to a wall.  Plan on hitting a stud or better yet - mount a horizontal board on the wall first.  Then attach holder to the horizontal board.  You can put multiple holders on the same horizontal board.

I have to say that this design has a really great feel.  It's heavy, durable, precise, and smooth.
It feels heavy-duty like something you would see at a good childrens museum.

I spent some time working up a system with quick horizontal slide adjustment via T-Track. 
Also experimented with spring clips to attach holder(s) along a square steel tube.
But to save time, I have not included that info here.    I've got a few other designs also.  I may add them later.

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