A few days ago, I wrote about starting two racks to house some more of my chisels. I’ve been a bit stretched this last week, and unfortunately I didn’t take nearly as many photos of the process as I would have liked. Those of you who also follow my Twitter account, @LeeLairdWW, saw my brief tweet yesterday evening showing the smaller of the two racks I’d planned.
The smaller of the two racks (photo above) is storing three of my chisels that have extra long handles, or are overall longer than standard chisels, two of which are Japanese paring chisels. With the location of each chisel marked with a pencil, I followed that with a deep dimple with an awl. This helps to provide solid registration for the center point of the drill bit, to prevent the bit from potentially “walking” to an unintended position, before entering the wood.
Before drilling, I took measurements on each chisel, of the hosel/socket approximately 1/4″ down from the widest point. This measurement would ensure the chisels would fit into, and then sit down into their respective slots, providing a good home. I also measured the minimum size of each chisel’s shank/neck, to make certain the chisel would fit into the intended slot in the rack. I documented each of these measurements (shown in photo below) directly to each chisel position, so there was less chance I would create the incorrectly sized hole at any of the locations, while at the drill press.
After drilling all of the holes for all planned tools, it was over to the band saw to cut the slots that allows the chisels to enter from the front of the board instead of dropping down into each hole. As you can probably imagine, if you decide to go with a “drop-in” solution, the hole must be large enough for the cutting edge of the chisel to fit through. On smaller chisels, this works fine. On larger sized chisels, the size of the cutting edge can easily eclipse the diameter of the handle, which obviously prevents hanging larger chisels via the drop-in method.
After I made all of the cuts, to open up the slots, it was back to the workbench (on the smaller rack, this left little to do before mounting). I used some 1 1/4″ self-cutting Kreg screws, to mount the small rack, to the previously mounted plywood. This size screw was reasonable for this application, as they didn’t need to pierce drywall before contact wood. These square drive heads provide such a solid connection to the driver, that there are few other types I generally use, especially in a storage solution. I pre-drilled the holes through each end of the smaller rack, large enough so the screw’s threads didn’t bite into the rack itself. As these are self-tapping screws, and they screwed into plywood, I didn’t drill pilot holes. Just before installing, I noticed the end of the screws were only about 1/4″ beyond the rear edge of the rack, which wouldn’t penetrate deep enough to have the intended strength. Back to the bandsaw. I drew a line approximately 1/4″ in from the rear edge of the rack, as that would let the screws reach to full thread-depth in the plywood, and just followed the line. I hand planed the rear edge, to create a smooth, flat surface. When I tested the screw’s projection length again, all looked good. Before attaching the small rack with screws, I wanted to make sure it was level. I removed the head from my large adjustable square, and with it sitting on the top surface of the rack, used it’s bubble to confirm level as I drove the screws home.
The larger rack had quite a bit of the same processes, but since I wanted the chisels to sit farther out from the wall, I used a second board that is 90-degrees to the first. The rear board has a face-side against the drywall, while the board the holds the chisels, is set so it’s edge is against the rear board’s outer face-side. The studs in my shop are on 24″ centers, so I cut the rear board to 28″, providing a 2″ overlap of the stud on each end. I cut the front board to 22″, so it wouldn’t interfere with the screws I’d use to attach the large rack to the studs.
After I drilled all of the chisel holes, and cut the necessary slots, I used my Auriou Model Makers 15-grain rasp (does it seem like I use this rasp on every single project?) to remove soften some edges. I also used a paring chisel to cut chamfers on the edges of the slots, which helped refine the fit on a few, but it is also a nice visual.
I placed the two boards together in their final orientation, and made marks on the rear board, centered on each of the remaining thick sections between the holes/slots. I measure half the thickness of the front board, and marked along the rear board to intersect with each of the centered marks, which will make sure the connecting screws hit their target. I used the awl to again make marks deep enough so the drill bit (and I) could “feel” them. Using my 1/8″ drill bit, I pre-drilled holes at each of the marks on the rear board. With the front board held in my vise, I placed the rear board against it, so they lined up as planned. I re-chucked my 1/8″ drill bit and while holding the two boards aligned, carefully drilled the middle position, and then drove a screw, and lightly snugged it up. I did the same at one end position, and snugged the second screw. Now I drilled the rest of the holes as deep as the bit would reach, without worrying that one of the boards might move. This drilling operation only created a starter hole in the front board, since 1/8″ bits are fairly short, but the alignment is also transferred besides just the location.
After removing the rear board, I drilled each of the starter holes, on the front board, as deep as the bit could reach. With the rear board out of the way, the bit easily reached the depth needed for the intended 2 1/2″ screws. Since this larger rack carried additional weight, these screws seemed prudent, both to hold the two boards together, and to attach the pair to the studs. Before I drove the screws to mate the two boards, I put a bead of polyurethane glue on the front board’s mating edge. I didn’t take a photo of the glue on the board, but put a little bit on a paper plate just before applying to the wood, and then a second squeeze on the plate immediately after the rack was installed (below, second photo). I used a damp paper towel to put some extra moisture along the mating surface of the rear board, and then drove all of the screws until the heads were flush with the rear face.
I used my stud finder to mark the two wall studs and their outlines, and with the rack held up to the wall, I determined and marked the location of the screws for attaching. I again pre-drilled the holes through both ends of the rack, for the screws that would attach to the studs, and chose to use three on each side for this larger piece. After I drove the first screw lightly into one stud, I verified level using the square’s bubble, before sinking a screw at the other end of the rack (below, top photo). After a quick look to make certain the tools fit, I drove the other four screws into their respective holes (below, bottom photo), and it was time to load the chisels.
Even though I hadn’t actually planned to have any other tools on the larger rack, I noticed there was plenty of room to put both my winding sticks, and my micrometer case, on top of the rack behind the chisel handles. I love to realize extra efficiencies when making a project.
It is great to have this many of my chisels so close to the bench, yet each with it’s own home. The time spent adding these racks was certainly well worth it, and will pay back in time saved in the future.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I’ve been working with my bench out towards the center of the shop, with tons of extraneous “extras”, that really always kept me from developing a storage solution that was both handy and functional. I finally made time to clear some of those “extras” from the shop space, and I am stoked! I’ve known that I wanted my bench in a certain location for a number of years, but there was always something that kept me from it. Funny how I made the time to get after this, after recovering from two major back surgeries. Seems this would have been more opportune before the injuries, but we trudge on.
Ok, this partially came about due to my drive, but there was a secondary (and really a 3rd, too) factor that also helped push me along. The hot water heater in our house is getting up in age, and we purchased one before the impending size adjustment hit. Of course we wanted to get this unit installed BEFORE the old one eroded and poured water all over the floor, but the quote our plumber gave us had a shelf-life of sorts. And one last thing was that I wanted to get it installed before going to help the kids for a couple of weeks.
Alright, so I got the bench over against the wall, so it was time to start making some updated storage, even if it was just a temp stop-gap, until I have the time to layout and build a storage cabinet for the wall. I had a partial sheet of solid-core plywood that I knew would be plenty strong to handle hand planes and most other things I might throw at it.
I decided to start off with making cleats for four of my hand planes: my #8, #62, #6 and #51. It can be a good learning lesson just going through the necessary layout and thought process related to this type of storage. On the surface, it seems like you’d just cut 8 small pieces of wood and attach them to the plywood. Done! Well, it’s not really that simple, even though it’s easily within most woodworker’s capabilities. As many of you probably know, the fact that I am severely anal can also have a pronounced impact on any of my projects.
I started off measuring the planes I planned to store, and get an idea how much space I should alot. When I started thinking about the cleats, I again took measurements to see just how much space each plane required, so they could slide under the cleat. (Note: Make sure you actually measure the thickness of both ends of the planes, as I missed this little detail. When I talk about the #62, you’ll understand!)
I had a strip of wood (3/8″ thick) that was just about the correct width (~2″) to fit between the side flange on most of the planes. I cut it up into 8 pieces, with four being a bit longer than the others. To get the space needed behind the cleats, I re-used some dense pine (also about 3/8″ thick), and cut them so they were just shy of the same width as the cleats. Each was glued to the back of a cleat, with some 5-minute epoxy, which sets strong enough for the initial work and will only get stronger.
I pre-drilled the holes where the screws would pass, even though I planned to use some that do not require a hole. I just didn’t want to take the chance that the bite of the screw might cause a split or crack. I need these to be strong enough to keep my tools safe.
I started placing the bottom cleats, working from the outside edge, towards the center. To get the bottom of the cleats to all reasonably line up, I placed a wooden spacer under the bottom of each cleat, before driving the screws home. I placed each plane onto it’s bottom cleat, to see how much space I wanted to leave between it and it’s neighbor(s).
After I had all four of the bottom cleats in place, I placed a couple of planes onto their cleats, to find the best placement of the upper cleats. It turned out with the lengths of the bottom cleats, there wasn’t any way to make the plane hold, and also release. It only took a moment to realize I had the cleats reversed. The bottom cleats don’t require a great deal of depth, and the upper must have more travel than is needed to disengage the lower. So, off with all four of the “bottom” cleats, and I repeated the process with the old “upper” cleats, only at the bottom. Jeez!
Ok, lets pick back up, with the #8 sitting on it’s bottom cleat. I again moved the upper cleat until it would easily restrain the plane, but also allow for removal. The #8 and #6 were each very easy. When I came to my #62, some major adjustments were needed. With the adjustability of the mouth, on the #62, there is very little lip on the toe, to grasp and potentially move to release the plane. I drew a section of the cleat’s center, that I’d remove, so the toe section could easily move enough to make this work. To remove the wood, it was two straight cuts down the length with my Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw, and follow that with my Knew Concepts fret saw across at the base of the cut.
Ok, so I attached the upper cleat for the #62, and when I went to test the plane, it wouldn’t fit under the cleat. At first I wondered what might have happened, but when I looked at the plane, it was the old palm to the forehead. Dang it, I hadn’t measured the thickness of the toe section, and with the moving parts, it is quite a bit thicker than the sole at the rear of the plane. I cut another small piece of pine, planed it down to remove some of it’s thickness. I glued this piece to the already existing offset, and after the glue set, drilled through the full thickness, using the original holes as guides. (Oh, and yes, I used a 1/4″ longer screw for this cleat.) I reattached the upper cleat and it worked nicely.
The #51 was a bit different, as it doesn’t have a centralized space between two side rails, so I took this into account. I cut and planed a thin strip of wood, that I could use to prevent this plane from contacting (or being contacted) by the #6 next to it. This strip of wood also acts to retain the #51, as it contacts the two cleats on the plane’s right edge, since there is no rail on this edge. With the strip in place, it was obvious the bottom cleat was still a bit too long, so I removed the excess with a sharp Japanese chisel.
With this quick modification, it was easy to place the upper cleat and secure it, so the plane was retained and also removable. Whew!
I realize this is just four planes, but it was a good mental workout, to deal with a couple of oddities. I haven’t yet made holding locations for my smaller planes, like the 4 1/2, 3, block planes or shoulder planes. These will come, as well as some additional chisels that aren’t already on the back of my bench, and additional saws. If nothing else, this will give quick access to these tools, and limit some of the shaving/saw dust exposure, they once had under neath the bench’s top.
This is a great dry-run for an upcoming tool chest for the wall, as the layout of the tools and ways of handling holding is something that very subjective and has the potential to always change. I will likely add at least a few more tools, prior to securely mounting the storage unit to the wall above my bench. I’m really looking forward to having the tools at the ready, without the work on the bench covering them in shavings.
I hope this might be useful to those that have never tried to create this type of storage before, and maybe add to what others have currently. Thank you as always, for taking the time to come check out my blog.
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