Stanley Compartment Rack




Introduction: Stanley Compartment Rack

Purpose of the build:

I had began accumulating a collection of various compartment organizers in a multitude of shapes and sizes.

Finally, after loosing track of which had what I decided to embrace uniformity.

I decided on Stanley cases, which have little troughs, with a lid that is flush fitting to the top of the trough, instead of little clear plastic dividers that don't seal tightly.

I transferred all the parts and was left with about a dozen cases. These cases are designed to be stacked with some indentations to keep them together. But, even these shallow cases get pretty heavy when filled with screws, bolts, nuts etc, so stacking several high causes some difficulty pulling one out from under a couple.


This design was to allow the weight of each case to be independent of one another, instead of compounded.

There are a lot of other similar designs, some way more complicated with sliding trays holding each case, these were nice but seemed like over kill. I wanted something I could knock out in a weekend (including paint time).

This design utilizes the 1/4" lip on side of each case to hold it's weight on the two sides only. Importantly, the cases are rigid enough that that they don't sag even when filled heavily, or this design would not work.

Basically this is 5 sided box open in the front. Top, bottom and sides are 3/4" plywood, the back is 1/2".

The (24) rails which hold the cases are made out of a standard 2X3. I went with a 12 case unit, 9 shallow, 3 deep, because I wanted to achieve a certain height.

The plywood is screwed and glued and the back is screwed from the sides, and glued. There is another 3/4" plywood shelf separating the deep cases from the shallow to act as a stabilizer to reinforce the integrity of the square.

Measuring is critical. There is not a lot forgiveness when fine tuning the fit.

Step 1: Fit

Exterior: The cases are 13-1/2" deep, so the exterior 4 pieces are all 14" wide. (The back inserts into the opening for integrity purposes).

As noted, the side to side fit is a bit tricky, since you want a nice flush fit to make case insertion/extraction smooth.

I wanted the most surface contact between the lip of the case and the top of the rail, while having enough clearance between the sides to mitigate friction, but not enough to allow a wobble.

I made the the rails 3/8" thick and worked from there, by cutting the top piece a little long and then dry fit the top and 2 sides. Shaving down the top on the table saw until I got the resistance I was looking for, then cut the bottom piece the same width.

Step 2: Rails / Jig

This design called for 24 rails roughly 13-1/4 in length to hold the cases in place.

I decided on 3 screws to hold the rails, you could probably get by with 2 if you glued them.

Not wanting to cut 24 rails and drill 72 holes, I first created a jig roughly the size of a rail and proportionally drilled 3 pilot holes.

I used a 2X3 for the rails so I marked the stock to the dimensions of the rail (including) blade width, then drilled the 2X3, with the Jig at intervals of roughly 13-1/2 inches.

Step 3: Rip the Rails

Once drilled I ripped the stock piece down to 3/8" thick (5 cuts)

Step 4: Rails - Crosscut

Stacking the 4 ripped pieces back together and utilizing a stop piece on the miter saw i crosscut them into uniform pieces.

Step 5: Mount the Rails

Placing the rack sides "inside up" adjacent to one another I mounted the rails using a (straight) scrap wood piece as a uniform spacer that spanned across both side pieces.

So taking care to get the first two rails perfectly square, the rest went quickly and this insured no variation between the two side rails relative to one another.

Special note: I utilized a 1/2" spacer clamped to the backs of the 2 sides for ease of positioning the rails and so as to have a nice snug uniform fit for the back piece to rest against.

Step 6: Assembly

At this point the only thing left to do is glue and screw the 4 sides, measure and cut the back to fit, and screw that in place.

I did cut some trim pieces out of left over scrap to finish out the top so that there was a sort of pocket on the top to put a case bordered in such a way that it couldn't be knocked off. I finished it out with some rubber tool drawer liner i had laying around.

Fill, sand, prime, and paint. I went with fire engine red to match a drawer stand I have with my drill press on it.

1 Person Made This Project!


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Ol Tusker
Ol Tusker

4 years ago

Simple, efficient, and awesome! I will definitely do this build soon...


Question 4 years ago on Step 1

Love the build! Would love to know side to side distance and height of your build. Great execution.


6 years ago

This is a great way to make a storage rack. Very nicely done, I like it!