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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Air Nailer Caddy
Drawer from a 4-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
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
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