If all your tools are stuffed in plastic buckets or jumbled together in a drawer, check out these simple yet clever tool storage tips. They'll help you organize your tools and your shop so you can find exactly what you need, when you need it.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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Glue rigid foam insulation to a plywood base
Store router bits, drill bits, screwdrivers, awls, pencils, Allen wrenches and hole saws in a chunk of 1-1/2-in.-thick rigid foam insulation. To make this pointy-tool pincushion, just glue the foam to 1/2- in. plywood sized an inch wider than the foam. Be sure to use foam-compatible adhesive (PL 500 is one). Then press the foam into place and let it dry for a few hours. Punch holes for the accessories by rotating a small-diameter Phillips screwdriver or an awl at a slight angle into the foam. The tools will widen the holes to fit as you push them in. Screw the plywood to a shop wall over your workbench and load it up!
Quick blade cover-up
Slit a length of garden hose
Recycle old garden hose by slitting open a length and using it as a blade cover for sharp saws and other bladed tools.
A wrench rack from the clothes closet
Hang wrenches on a tie/belt rack
Are all your wrenches stuffed in a plastic bucket? Here’s a better idea. Screw a tie/belt rack (available at discount stores) to a bare spot on the wall over your workbench and hang the wrenches—SAE and metric—where you can swiftly nab and put them away in an orderly fashion.
Corner-on pegboard hooks
Secure tools with a bent pegboard holder
Ever had a plane, level or square get dinged up after falling off the pegboard? Never again. Bend an 8-in.-long pegboard holder into a corner shape by holding it in a vise and pounding it with a hammer to make the series of right angles. Make one corner to hold the left side of the tool and another to hold the right. Now just hold the tool up to the pegboard and insert the corner peg so it clasps the tool’s corner.
Build a PVC pipe tool rack
Build this PVC rack to store your tools on the wall. Use a jigsaw to cut a 1-1/4-in.-wide notch down the length of a 2-in.-dia. PVC pipe. Cut several 3-1/2-in.-long sections with a hacksaw or miter saw, and drill two 1/8-in. holes behind the notch. Use 1-1/4-in. drywall screws to attach these pieces to a 2×4 screwed to the wall.
Handsaw blade saver
Slit a section of PVC pipe
Prolong the life of your saw blades with a short section of 1/2-in. PVC pipe. Hold the pipe tight against slightly opened vise jaws, and saw a slit down the entire pipe (this is a tricky cut, but it only has to be done once). Slide it over the blade to keep the teeth sharp.
Pie plate storage pockets
Screw pie tins and plates to your shop wall
Screw cut-in-half pie tins and heavy-duty paper plates to a shop wall and you’ve got space-saving storage for the sanding discs, circular saw blades and abrasive discs that like to hide in a drawer. Be sure to tape the sharp edges on the cut pie plates to protect your fingers!
Saw blade carryall
Make a plywood saw blade tote
This is an oldie but goodie for storing and toting table and circular saw blades. Cut a 14-in. x 12-in. piece of 3/4-in. plywood and drill a hole for a 2-in. x 3/8-in. carriage bolt. Secure the blades on the bolt with a fender washer and wing nut, being careful to stagger the carbide teeth so they don’t rub together. Saw a slot in the upper end for a handle and for storing it on pegboard.
Store rotary bits in foam-filled container
This rotary-bit organizer may just inspire a renaissance of rotary tool use in your shop. Friction-fit a piece of 3/4-in. plastic foam in a snap-lid plastic food container. Then poke holes in the plastic foam with an awl to hold shafted bits, and slice crevices with a utility knife to hold cutoff discs. Using a spade bit at high speed, drill sockets for larger bits and tube-shape containers. Once your bits are in order, you can rediscover how useful they can be.
Drill bit rack
Build a table top or wall mount drill bit rack
Here’s the Cadillac of drill bit racks. It comes with a sizing index to check round work pieces and the bits themselves for drilling the exact corresponding hole. The length of the rack is up to you—build it to hold all your bits in order of size. You can either build it freestanding for tabletop use or without the base pieces for wall mounting.
To build one, lay your bits—spade and/or twist bits—on a table with 1/2-in. spacing. Cut two 3/4-in. x 3/4-in. strips of hardwood, then mark, clamp and drill according to the bit spacing you determined. (Drill through both strips for spade bits but only halfway through the second strip for twist bits.) Position two 2-3/4-in. blocks between the strips and screw them together. Use the bits you laid out to drill holes in a piece of 1/4-in.plywood for the sizing index. Screw it to the rectangle and get those bits in order!
Magnetic bit rack
Mount a magnetic tool holder for bits
Mount an 18-in. Magnetic Tool Holder (No. 81281) to your drill press’s pulley cowl for quick-change bit storage (available at rockler.com). The tool holder is inlaid with powerful magnetic strips that tightly hold all sizes of bits, plus it’s easy to mount. Mark and drill a couple of 1/4-in. holes through the cowl of your drill press. Then use two 1-1/4 in. x 1/8-in.-diameter bolts with nuts and washers to attach the holder.
While you’re ordering, buy a few extra magnetic tool holders and use them elsewhere in your shop to hold chisels, squares, router bits, metal rulers, wrenches and all those easy-to-misplace accessories.
Bandsaw blade hangers
Nest blades inside binder clips
If you’ve ever suffered the indignity—and possible danger to eyes and face—of a bandsaw blade uncoiling as you’ve pulled it off the peg you hung it on, you’ll love this tip. Nest the coiled blades into binder clips and store them on your pegboard, and they’ll never spring out at you again. Apply labels to the clip so you can simplify size selection and storage.