The Drill Bit Rack





Introduction: The Drill Bit Rack

About: Desktop Support Technician by day. Rock Drummer by night. DIY Home Improvement Enthusiast. Maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. Professional level napper. I have a full workshop in my basem...

Drill Bits ... you know I love them ... especially Forstner bits. What I don't love is sorting through a pile of bits to find the one I need/want/desire.

Do you have one of these tray things on your drill press? If so, what is in it? Mine is pretty useless as a beer ... I mean cup holder. I'd say almost as useless as the slide out drink holder on my old desktop computer. For awhile I put my most used bits here, but then I still had to get a microscope to find the etched diameter marking on each bit ... or break out the calipers.

Maybe you store your bits in the factory case/box? Those all seem to be different sizes, making storage a nightmare ... that is if they plastic hinge doesn't break within the first week.

Maybe you use old coffee cans or plastic containers like I did for awhile, which ends up becoming a catch all for small hardware, fasteners and sawdust.

It was time to put an end to this madness and organize my drill bits. I wanted them grouped in sets, I wanted them portable, and I wanted them labeled.

Step 1: The Back Panel

Oh yes ... 3/4" plywood. My chosen space could accommodate 30" x 24", so that's what I went with. I drilled holed in the top corners so I could hang it from the ceiling, thus avoiding the need to drill into the concrete wall.

Step 2: The Racks and French Cleats

Next I ripped down 24" long strips for the drill bit holders and cleats. Using the shanks on my Forstner bits as the average gauge, I went with 1 7/8" depth for the holders. The cleats are probably 1 1/4"-1 1/2".

Step 3: Fabricating the Holders

For my largest diameter Forstner bits, I had to laminate two layers of 3/4" plywood. Everything else just requires one layer.

I laid out the bits by eye, made my marks and drilled the holes on the drill press. The cleats were attached with glue and brad nails.

Step 4: Laying Out the Rows

I debated about how to lay out the spacing. Should I try to make it adjustable? Should I space according the bits I had? Should I overthink this until my brain explodes? In the end, I went with 5 equally spaced rows. Most of my bits fit into this spacing and those that don't, I can just stagger.

I cut a quick spacer block out of some scrap plywood and attached these cleats with glue and brad nails.

Step 5: Finishing

Once the glue was dry, I finished the rack and all the holders with boiled linseed oil. For hanging, I just used some plastic perforated strapping ... also called pipe hanger strap .. and attached each side to a ceiling/floor joists with a washer and screw.

Step 6: Complete

Labeling was done with a fine tip sharpie. I thought about using a label maker, but the spacing was tight and I figured they'd just dry out and fall off over time.

This design allows me to take a set of bits to my work bench or a job site. I'm also able to rearrange them on the rack if I so desire.

The last picture shows the plywood lamination in order to accommodate larger diameter bits.



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    22 Discussions

    This is a great idea for odd shaped bits like Forstner or spade drills, but for "regular" drills, I prefer a metal drill index. They are cheap, hold a wide range of sizes and keep dust/drit out.

    Great ible! Good design, great execution, even better presentation of the ible!

    FWIW: In my climate I've had trouble with bit shanks rusted when placed inside wooden holes. Have you experienced this? If not, how would you address the problem?

    3 replies

    I live in Florida and EVERYTHING rusts all the time. It is my biggest challenge keeping my tools in good shape. I created a similar organizer for bits, but instead of wood I used a material called Starboard. It is mainly used for surfaces on boats. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and can easily be worked with any woodworking tools. The material is soft enough that it won't hurt edges and durable enough to last forever. Since it is plastic it has no moisture issues at all.

    You can pick up sheets of the stuff at most Home Depot stores and you can get cutoffs on eBay for reasonable prices.

    Good luck with your rust problem.

    I haven't had any rust issues with bits and I did put some renaissance wax in the holes to make the bits slide in out out easier, which would end up transferring to the bits.

    what kind of wood are you using? I'd think a hard wood would have less of an issue than a soft wood like pine.

    Excellent idea! I've been trying to figure out how to handle router bits and you just solved my problem. Gotta go out to the shop!

    1 reply

    I have a french cleat router bit tray as well. I'm just starting my 1/2" bit collection, so I didn't need a large rack .. yet.

    I gave the rust issue a bit more thought and came up with this. It simply adds 3/4" to the height of the ledger for the French cleat and a piece of 1/8" plastic glued and screwed to the top of the ledger, drilled for whatever size and spacing of drill bits. A thin hardboard could also be used.

    This idea is also brilliant for router bits. Shafts for most need only be 1/4" or 1/2" and thickness of the ledger could accommodate various width cutting edges.

    Thank you for the idea and inspiration.

    drill bit holder.jpg

    nice - next on my list. thanks for putting up.

    If you add cleats to your bench or drill press table, you can hang the bit holders while you work; getting them off the surface and they won't tip over.

    1 reply

    Did you go with ply for bit holder strips for cost/convenience? Was wondering about the long-term durability given how thin the plies are at the outside edges of the bit shank holes. Now, granted I am o̶c̶c̶a̶s̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ s̶o̶m̶e̶t̶i̶m̶e̶s̶ ̶f̶r̶e̶q̶u̶e̶n̶t̶l̶y̶ always accused of over-engineering things, but I think I would not consistently pull the bits straight up but also forward to some degree. Have you had any problems with that portion splitting?

    1 reply

    Great questions. I live in New England and my shop isn't consistent in terms of temp and humidity, so I knew solid wood would end up bowing a bit and then the cleats wouldn't work right. The plywood won't move (at least not enough to hinder operation). I also like the look, ease of use, and cost as you pointed out. All of the Forstner bits have a consistent shank diameter on the chuck mounting end (3/8" I think), so that last pic is deceptive. There is a good 1 1/2 ply between the bit and the veneer, so splitting hasn't been an issue (at least not yet). I did have some "wandering bit" syndrome with the smaller bits though .. that was the one downside to using plywood for the holders.

    very simple but somehow elegant looking at the same time. Bravo and thank you. This is going in line right after the TS sled.

    Very nice! I like the modular cleats!

    Another excellent project! My drill bits are all in their plastic cases, which I hate. It's slow and fiddly to get them out. This is a much better way to store them. Thanks!