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DIY Storage for Hand Tools

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We finally had a beautiful and halfway warm day in north Texas! So I took advantage of it and got out in my shop and built a french cleat storage system for my hand tools and paddle bits.
Check out my power tool storage post to get the basic information on a french cleat system.

Before I was storing all my sockets, wrenches, ratchets, and screwdrivers in cases under my workbench…but if you haven’t discovered it yet, I hate things tucked away where they aren’t seen. So problem solved with just few hours of work. : )

Remember that everything on this is customizable, so if you don’t like the way I’ve design a holder, just browse around online to check out other designs, or design your own!

Wall Braces:

1) I found a scrap pine 1x and ran it through my table saw with the blade at a 45 degree.

2) I first located the studs on my wall (related video here), then used 2″ screws to attach it in place. I don’t add the second brace until later, but it is 7″ above the first.

Note: When making your holders, in most cases you need to make the back piece (that is connected to the cleat) long enough, to where it goes down at least to the bottom of the brace on the wall. If you don’t make it at least as long as the brace then it doesn’t sit as snugly when you hang it. The only exception is when you are hanging something real light such as the paddle bits and screwdrivers.

Wrenches and Sockets Holder:

1) I started with the standard set and first laid out all my marks. I’ve put the dimensions on the below photo for you. Then just in case it’s helpful, I’ve listed the measurement of each dowel rod placement below the photo.

These measurements are taken with zero being the left edge:
Top: 2 9/16″, 3 1/8″, 3 11/16″, 4 1/4″, 4 3/4″, 5 5/16″, 5 15/16″, 6 9/16″, 7 1/4″, 8. (1/4″ set)
Center: 3/8″, 1 1/8″, 1 15/16″, 2 11/16″, 3 5/8″, 4 9/16″, 5 9/16″, 6 5/8″, 7 1/8″. (3/8″ set)
Bottom: 1/2″, 1 5/16:, 2 3/8″, 3 3/8″, 4 3/8″, 5 1/4″, 6 1/2″, 7 13/16″. (3/8″ set)

2) Before drilling my holes, I grabbed two spare pieces of scrap and used my miter saw to cut a 10 degree angle on one side. Then I used my nail gun to temporarily attach the work piece to these ‘ramps’. This will allow me to drill a consistent 10 degree angle on all these holes so the dowel will be slightly angled up.

Note: If you use this trick, be sure you are facing your work piece the correct way or your dowels will end up being angled downward. The bottom of your holder should be closest to the drill press, so the top is closest to you.

3) Next I drilled my holes using a paddle bit. Since I have both 1/4″ and 3/8″ sockets, I first drilled all my 3/8″s then went back and drilled the 1/4″s.

4) Then I grabbed some 3/8″ and 1/4″ dowel rods and used my scroll saw to chop them up, then glued them in place.

Tip: There were a few times when either the socket or wrench was too small for the dowel rod….so I would take the piece and stick it in my drill (don’t tighten down the chuck too tightly), then while I pushed on the trigger, I would hold the piece against my sanding block and it quickly takes off material. Just keep taking off material until the wrench/socket fits to your liking.

So in the above photo, you can see that I tried a different design to start with…..and it worked fine even without the back coming down to the bottom of the brace, but after I built that one I was still needing to build something for the sockets and I thought it was wasted space to build a whole separate holder, so I scrapped that design and built that one you see on the left. I wanted to show you though in case you don’t have sockets to store, to give you another option to consider.

5) Last thing on this holder was to add a side holster for my socket driver. Just another piece of scrap where I used my scroll saw to cut out a slot then glued it on the side.

6) I repeated all the same steps and built one for my metric set.
Top: 2 13/16″, 3 3/8″, 3 15/16″, 4 7/16″, 5″, 5 9 /16″, 6 1/4″, 6 7/8″, 7 3 16″, 8 3/8″. (1/4″ set)
Center: 2 1/3″, 2 13/16″, 3 9/16″, 4 3/8″, 5 1/4″, 6 1/8″, 7 1/8″, 8 3/16″. (3/8″ set)
Bottom: 5/16″, 1 1/4″, 2 1/8″, 2 7/8″, 3 7/8″, 4 3/4″, 5 3/4″, 6 15/16″, 8 3/16″. (3/8″ set)
Ratchets/Extensions Holder:
1) This holder was anything but an exact science. I grabbed a scrap then laid my ratchets and extensions down until I liked the layout.  Then grabbed another piece that was roughly 1 1/2″ wide and moved them down on it, keeping them in the same formation then traced around the handle.
2) I drew a line 1/4″ down from the top then used my scroll saw to cut out each slot. (That third one came out a little wonky.)

3) Then once I screwed the cleat onto the back piece, I glued then clamped the slotted platform on the back and let it dry.

Pliers/Cutters Holder:

1) I grabbed some 5/8″ dowel rod and cut a length of 12″.

2) Then I cut two end pieces and put a 5/8″ hole in 5/8″ from the side with a paddle bit.

Note: I chose to come in 5/8″ because this gap determines how far off the back piece my rod will hang and I need it to be big enough to allow my handles to slip in. So I grabbed my biggest handled tool (the square nose pliers) and used these as a gage.

3) Once I cut the back and screwed it to the cleat, I glued the rod in the end pieces then glued them on the back piece. Then I flipped it over and put in two brad nails on each end piece.

Note: I positioned the rod assembly 3 1/2″ from the top of the holder so that the back wall would help keep the tools closed while they were hanging. Play around with different placements before sticking it permanently to figure out where works best for your tools.

Paddle Bit Holder:
1) I actually just purchased a full set of paddle bits so I took the plastic cover from the package and set it on a piece of wood then marked where each end fell. : ) I figured, they already figured out the perfect spacing, so why not use it?!
2) Then I drew a line at 1 1/8″, then found center and drew another line.
3) Since the shafts of the paddle bits are 5/16″ I grabbed my 5/16″ drill bit and put it in my drill press and drilled all the holes except the one for the 1/4″ bit on the far left. Since 1/4″ is slightly smaller than 5/16″, it would fall right through. So instead I used a 1/4″ bit to make this hole and just store this one upside down.

4) Since these are really light, I went ahead and skipped making a back and just attached this platform to the cleat itself. I glued then nailed along the bottom edge of the cleat.

Screwdriver Holder:

1) Here is another non-exact science one…I lined what screwdrivers I have up then traced around them with a pencil. I would hold one in place and trace then, while still holding it in place, line up the next one so I could make sure I was getting the spacing correct. Drop the first one, trace, then repeat.

2) Next, I used my scroll saw to cut out each slot. I made each slot 1″ deep.

3) Then since these were light weight tools as well, I again skipped the back and just glued/nailed it directly to the cleat.

Note: Again, I positioned the platform along the bottom edge of the cleat but this time it wasn’t just for esthetics. Some of the shorter screwdrivers need a back wall to keep them from tipping out of their slot. So by placing it along the bottom, the tools use the cleat as a backing.

And as of now, those are the only tools I needed to hang. : ) What do you think?

Total Time: 5 hrs
Total Cost: $4 (dowels)
Here is the related video I posted to my YouTube channel:
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