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Winter 2013-2014

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AW Extra - Hyper-Organize Your Shop

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A Hook-And-Slat Wall System Puts Everything At Your Fingertips

 

By Jock Holmen

 

 

 

 

I’ve struggled with the clutter in my small garage shop for years. Recently my neighbor remodeled his garage using a commercial wall-slat system. That gave me an idea for designing my own system. I used 1/4-in. and 3/4-in. plywood (Photo 1) to create a hook-and-slat system that organizes all my tools, hardware, shop supplies and hand tools. It’s a flexible system that allows me to make changes easily as my shop evolves. I use the same hook-and-slat system to hang things on a roll-around cart or my bench. I even devised handles that double as hooks so I can hang individual drawers on my bench to put fasteners and hardware right where I’m working. Along the way, I added some pull-out vertical dividers with slats mounted on them. See “8 Great ideas,” below, for all these ideas and more.

 

 

 

Photo 1: My entire wall system hangs on this simple hook-and-slat system. To make a hook and slat, I simply glued a piece of 1/4-in. plywood onto a strip of 3/4-in. plywood. 

 

 

It’s easy to build

 

This hook-and-slat system is simplicity itself. Take a strip of 3/4-in. plywood and offset another strip of 1/4-in. plywood to create a hook and its partner, the wall slat (Photo 1). You must shave a bit off the inside edge of the slat (Photo 2) so the hook can slip in and out with ease. After I attached the slats to the wall (Photo 3) I began to invent different holders and boxes for all the tools and hardware I use frequently. 

 

 

 

Photo 2:  Shave the inside face of the 3/4-in. plywood for each wall slat. Remove just enough material (usually less than 1/32 in.) so the hooks slide in and out without binding.

 

 

 

3 Great Benefits

 

 

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

 

 

My system puts everything in plain view and right at my fingertips. No more fumbling in drawers or cabinets. When I’m done using a tool, it goes right back on the wall, leaving my benchtop clutterfree and ready for work.

 

 

 

This System Can Hold a Ton––Well, Almost

 

 

 

Trust me—this wall system is plenty strong. The slats can hold up an entire cabinet full of tools without causing you worry.

 

 

Low Hanging Boxes Keep Benchtop Clear 

 

 

All the boxes, like these sandpaper organizers, can be taken off the wall and hung on the bench to bring their contents where the work is. The boxes are designed to sit below the benchtop, leaving the top unobstructed.

 

 

 

 

8 Great Ideas 

 

Roll-Around Cart

 

 

My roll-around cart normally lives below my bench. When I need to go mobile, it comes out of hiding, ready to be adorned with boxes and dividers that contain the tools I need for a given job. Here I’m getting the cart ready with everything I need for a glue-up. 

 

 

 

Pull-Out Dividers

 

 

Each divider is task-oriented. This one carries adhesives, countersinks and drivers for assembly. The dividers slide on a plastic channel designed to hold lattice, available at most home centers. A 1/4-in.-wide tongue is machined on the top and bottom of each panel. Multi-ply birch plywood works best for these dividers.

 

 

 

Spot Lighting

 

 

A small block of wood with a hook attached allows me to put my work light right where I’m working. The light can hang off the wall, my bench or even the roll-around cart.

 

 

 

Hook and Handle

 

 

Even my individual screw drawers can hang on slats. That’s because I designed the drawer handles just like the hooks, only smaller in scale. Pull out a drawer, turn it around and hang it on a hook—everything’s within easy reach. 

 

 

 

Hand-Plane Holder

 

 

 

My hand-plane holder puts all my planes within easy reach. 

 

 

 

 

Hanging Tool Caddies

 

 

 

All my handheld power tools and their accessories have places on my wall. Individual tool caddies hold sanders with their paper, drills with their chargers and bits, and routers with their wrenches. When I need a tool, I grab its caddy and take it to where I’m working. Now I never leave a needed accessory behind.

 

 

 

Orbital Caddy

 

 

 

Hey! Check out my random-orbital sander caddy. The paper is organized with 1/4-in. plywood dividers labeled for each grit. I just lift the appropriate divider and grab the paper I want. The sander sits on top of the paper stack for transport. I put a five-degree back angle on the bottom shelf to tip the paper and sander so they don’t fall out when the caddy hitches a ride on the cart. 

 

 

 

Slide-By Panels

 

 

 

The slide-by panel assembly is housed by large shelves at top and bottom. I even used some of my old perfboard to make a divider.

The slide-by panels glide along the same plastic channel used for the dividers (see “Pull-Out Dividers,” above).

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Jock Holmen has been a master carver and woodworker for 29 years. He owns and operates The Norwegian Termite in historic Mendota, Minn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2006, issue #125

Purchase this back issue.

 

 

 

Here are 28 additional totes, cabinets, shelves and holders.

 

 

 

Drill Caddy

 

 

 

 

Air Nailer Caddy

 

 

 

 

Router Caddy

 

 

 

 

4-Drawer Cabinet

 

 

 

 

Drawer from a 4-Drawer Cabinet

 

 

 

 

2-Drawer Cabinet

 

 

 

 

Drawer for 1/2" Router Bits

 

 

 

 

Orbital Sander Caddy

 

 

 

 

Shelf for Allen Wrenches

 

 

 

 

Shelf for Hex Bits

 

 

 

 

Shelf for Plug Cutters and Countersink Bits

 

 

 

 

Shelf for Foam Brushes

 

 

 

 

Rack for 2 Bar Clamps

 

 

 

 

Clamp Rack

 

 

 

 

Tote for Drill Bit Cases

 

 

 

 

Tote for Glue Bottles

 

 

 

 

Holder for Extension Cords

 

 

 

 

Holder for Hex Drive Bits

 

 

 

 

Holder for Portable Shop Light

 

 

 

 

Holder for Spokeshaves

 

 

 

 

Holder for Coping Saws

 

 

 

 

Holder for Shop Brush

 

 

 

 

Holder for Spring Clamps

 

 

 

 

Holder for Hammers

 

 

 

 

Portable Storage Panel for Rolling Carts

 

 

 

 

Pegboard Panel for Rolling Carts

 

 

 

 

Shelf

 

 

 

 

Shelf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

randall wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 08-31-2009 3:17 PM

I really like this idea, my shop is very small and this wood free up a lot of space. Thank You..........

r_losasso wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-01-2009 1:56 PM

i absolutely love this set up and can't wait to begin implementing it in my own garage

Shannon Fields wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-02-2009 2:33 PM

I've already started using this in my shop!! WOW! What a wonderful idea! So far, I've put a slat over my compressor and hose reel to house the box I'm going to put my compressor parts in! So much potential, so little time left on earth!

Again, WOW!

Steve Tibbetts wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-05-2009 11:02 AM

I am looking at the current issue of AM and thinking about the rolling cart / workbench cabinet.  If I were to build them the same height as my Ridgid portable table saw, I would solve the problem of insufficient table space for handling sheet stock.  It would also mean that I would save the cost of new table saw, although I have been thinking that would be nice too.

Steve Tibbetts wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-05-2009 11:02 AM

I am looking at the current issue of AM and thinking about the rolling cart / workbench cabinet.  If I were to build them the same height as my Ridgid portable table saw, I would solve the problem of insufficient table space for handling sheet stock.  It would also mean that I would save the cost of new table saw, although I have been thinking that would be nice too.

Steve Tibbetts wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-05-2009 11:03 AM

sorry for the double post

Beekeeper41 wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-09-2009 8:13 PM

I like the idea. I cannot seem to find in the article the distance between the horizontal slats. It looks about 12". Is that correct?

Ross wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-12-2009 7:54 PM

In process of buying a new house;  Guess what my shop's gonna look like?

Marc Keith wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-16-2009 2:04 PM

This is great. I may not implement the entire workshop but I will be busy this weekend :).

bry32080 wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-17-2009 2:21 AM

I had the same question about the distance between the horizontal slats too.  It looks like if you make the plane rack, you should be right under the next slat.  Just a suggestion.

Labrenn wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-17-2009 10:27 PM

I just spent 2 1/2 days reorganizing my shop earlier this week. I was working in my shop this evening and loved the new layout because not only can I make great projects, but, my boat is in there too!

Now, after seeing these great ideas... I have to start all over again!

arw01 wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-19-2009 10:15 PM

The article from the original magazine Nov 2006 used 6" as the space.  He created spacers to hold the next cleat in place on top of the spaces once the first one was done and level.

He also put 3/4" plywood up on the walls so to have a space to always screw into.

A piece of OSB behind the drywall should work just a well.

prisonpreacher wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-26-2009 3:23 PM

If you build all the rolling stock cabinetry / benches in the shop with the top hook rail at the same height, you can simply make double sided hooks to connect the pieces together side-by-side to extend work surfaces if needed.  If you put a rail on the back-side of the cabinet, you could even connect it to make a catch table for your table saw work.

Clay wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-29-2009 9:41 AM

Great idea love the different accessories

Kim Allen wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 10-14-2009 7:23 AM

Can you provide the spacing that you used when applying the rails on the walls. Did you start at X inches off the floor and then apply a rail at 12" increments or what do you suggest?

Wilson Decker wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 10-14-2009 7:05 PM

Great idea ,maybe i`ll start making some of these .

Robert Schmitt wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 11-10-2009 9:50 PM

Don't get me wrong, this is a good resolution for a messy shop. but i belive that it lacks functional-ability and personalization. Though, it is a good start. I would recommend that you consider your options first, and although it may be hard, set your inspiration aside and consider functionability.

thunt wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 12-30-2009 11:16 AM

I have not seen the measurements of the wall slats anywhere.  CAn you answer the spacing question?  Thanks.  Tommy

get Ridgid Tools here wrote get Ridgid Tools here
on 04-21-2010 4:47 PM

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John wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 09-06-2010 2:12 AM

Really great idea.  I have a small shop and this looks like something my shop really needs.

gdo wrote re: Hyper-Organize Your Shop
on 10-22-2010 4:42 PM

Looks like a neat idea but what a dust catcher.  Even with a great vacuum system wood working makes dust.  I also do metal working in my shop(s).  I have one for wood and one for metal since they do not mix.  The wood shop is my unheated garage (live in Colorado) since I do more metal working than wood working but have tools for both.  I make model stationery steam engines as a major hobby.