2016 November 10    Tech   Woodworking & Woodcraft


There are probably a thousand ways to make a tool rack.  I wanted one that's easy, doesn't use fancy materials, and above all... can be completed in one afternoon, from stuff that's probably already sitting around.

This ultra-simple rack is great for lawn and garden tools such as rakes, shovels, etc.  You could probably also use it for hammers, wrenches, or anything else that could hang from a nail.  (Disclaimer.)

A tool rack like this is about as simple as it gets.  Even so, a project like this requires at least some skill.  Let's see what we've got here.

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In This Article

The Materials

The Tools

Making The Rack

Mounting On The Wall


The Materials

You need a two-by-four and a handful of sixteen-penny nails.  The two-by-four could be pine, fir, or any generic lumber you can get.

To mount the tool rack, you'll also need 3-inch deck screws or drywall screws.  Deck screws are stronger.

Choose almost any wood finish.  Boiled linseed oil is one of the easiest finishes you can apply.  It looks great on pine!

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The Tools

Carpenter's Level.

Drill Driver.  Use this for driving the deck screws to anchor the rack to the wall.

Driver Bits.  Whatever matches the deck screws you bought... Philips, star-drive, square-drive... be sure it's in your kit.

Hammer.  A 16- or 20-oz hammer is great for this.


Power Drill with 1/8" or 7/64" bit.  This Makita kit has both a cordless power drill and an impact driver.  Perfect for jobs like this.  Use the drill for the pilot holes, then the driver for the deck screws.

Straightedge or Yard Stick.

Tape Measure.

Table Saw.  You'll need this to rip down the 2x4 and remove the rounded edges.  You don't "have" to do it that way, though.  You could actually hand plane the board down to whatever shape you like;  it's just a lot slower. 

Also you'll probably want to use a circular saw or a miter saw to cut the wood to the desired length. 

To make the 45-degree corner, I used a block plane.  An electric wood planer ought to work, too, I guess.

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The Woodworking Steps

This is not a table saw how-to.  I'm going to assume you know how to use one safely.  If not, find a friend who does.

Basically we'll be taking a two-by-four and ripping it down on the table saw.  The width is not critical, but figure on two inches or so.  The main purpose here is to remove the rounded edges.  (This step is for looks more than anything else, but I think it improves the finished product a lot.)

Once you have the 2x4 ripped down, it's time to cut it to length.  Figure out where you're going to install the tool rack, then use the circular saw or miter saw to make it the correct length.

Next, we make the 45-degree edge bevel.  I wanted to keep it simple, and find an excuse to use a hand plane.  A router table would be another method.

The good ol' block plane... still a great woodworking tool in the 21st Century.

The idea is to run the hand plane lengthwise down the piece of wood, along a corner edge.  When you're done, the cross section will look like a square or rectangle that's missing one of the corners.

Obviously this step is optional, but it makes the finished project look better.  More purpose-built, finished, or something. 

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The Tool Supports

By this point you've got a long section of 2x4 that's been ripped down, so the result is maybe two inches wide.  The crudely rounded edges are gone.  And now, one edge has a nice flat bevel, which you planed by hand.  (Or maybe you ran it through a router table, if you prefer.) 

Point is, it doesn't look like generic scrap lumber anymore.

Now, time to install the nails.  These are going to be the supports from which you hang the tools.  (Obviously you could use something more refined, such as oak dowel pegs, if you prefer.)

For each support I used a pair of 16-penny nails, 2 3/8" to 2 1/2" apart.  For some tools they'll have to be farther apart.  Figure which tools you want to hang up, and space accordingly.

The second type of spacing is "How far apart will each tool be?".  I figured 7" between each tool.  Again, some tools may require more space. Some less.  Assemble your lawn & garden tools and see how much space they would take up on the tool rack. 

So, let's say the first pair of nails will be 2 3/8" apart.  So you mark those two spots with a pencil.  Then, measure 7", and put another mark.  Then measure 2 3/8" and put another mark.  From there, another 7", and so on.

Don't drill any holes or drive any nails until you've got everything measured out and marked. 

Before you drive the nails, drill pilot holes.  Otherwise you could easily split the wood. 

Finally, drive the nails which will be the tool supports.  They should be as straight as you can manage.  Drive them far enough that the points are not quite to the other side.  You should be able to see the very ends of the points, because of the pilot holes.

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The Mounting Holes

Most homes have the wall studs at 16" on center.  Once in a while, you'll find they're a little bit off for whatever reason.  It helps to use a stud finder. 

You'll want to know the exact center-to-center spacing of the wall studs.  Then, make holes in the tool rack that match up with those distances.  This step is critical.

Think of some way to distinguish the mounting holes, so you don't mix them up with the ones for the tool supports.  One way is to wait until you drive the nails, then make the mounting holes.

Nails = tool supports.  The deck screw is for anchoring to the wall studs.

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Mounting The Tool Rack

Once you've got the mounting holes drilled, the rest is easy.  Put the tool rack up on the wall where you want it.  The mounting holes should match up with the wall studs, because you measured them out ahead of time (you did do that, right?)

While you're holding the tool rack at the desired height, pick a mounting hole near the center and drive a 3" deck screw most of the way in. 

Then use a carpenter's level to level up the tool rack.  When it's level, drive in another 3" deck screw.  Then do the rest. 

Now it's ready to use!

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This tool rack is about as simple as it gets.  And it works great.  For what it is, I think it looks pretty good too. 

Complete it with a nice linseed-oil finish. 

If you have all the tools and materials, you can probably have the whole project done in just one afternoon.  The result is highly satisfying.  Finally, organize that jumble of tools that have been taking up floor space! 

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