Portable Chisel Rack

A Clever Cleat
This rack hangs anywhere using two cleats that interlock thanks to a 3/8″-deep x 1″-wide rabbet on each part. You want the fit between the two cleats to be firm. Here’s how to do it right: Cut the rabbet on one long edge of each cleat so it’s just a touch shy of 3/8″ deep, maybe by a few thousandths.

Screw one of the cleats to your bench, shop wall or cabinet. With the other cleat, plane or sand the rabbet at the ends so that the surface is a very gentle and subtle curve. Break the sharp corners of the joint using a block plane or sandpaper, which will make nesting the two cleats easier.

Now screw (but don’t glue) this cleat to your rack and give it a try. If the fit is too tight, remove the cleat and thin down the rabbet a bit more. If the fit is too loose, remove the cleat and make a few passes with a plane on the area where the cleat attaches to the rack. This will tighten up the fit.

Once you’re satisfied, glue and nail the two side stops on either end of the cleat that’s attached to the rack. The side stops will prevent you from pushing the rack off its cleat.

Sand, plane or scrape the surfaces of the rack and add a clear finish. Finish your rack with whatever you used on your workbench. For me it’s a wiping varnish comprised of three parts varnish and one part paint thinner.

Since I’ve installed this rack I’ve been astonished at how many trips it has saved me to hunt down the chisel I’m looking for. This rack’s a keeper.

Choosing Good Chisels
The chisels shown with this article are the new American-pattern Ashley Iles chisels available from Tools for Working Wood ($100.82 for a set of six). The steel in these chisels did really well during a test performed by the magazine editors in our February 2001 issue.

If you’re in the market for chisels, here are the other brands that fared well:

• Marples Blue Chips
These are good all-around chisels. They’re inexpensive and hold their edge pretty well. Available at any woodworking specialty store or catalog. A set of five costs about $45.

• Craftsman #36859
While these might have the oddest-looking handle on the market, the steel is surprisingly good. A set of five costs $29.99. Craftsman.com

• E.C.E.
German chisels with a hornbeam handle. Refinish the handle and you have a top-notch tool. A set of six costs $108. Ecemmerich.com

• Two Cherries/Hirsch
Excellent steel and decent handles are the good points. Price and the amount of lapping these tools require are the bad points. A set of four costs $79.99. Highlandhardware.com

• Woodworker’s Supply German Bevel-edge Chisels
Once you refinish the hornbeam handles on these bargain tools, you’ll have a fine and durable set of chisels. A set of four costs $27.99. Woodworker.com PW

Click here to download the PDF for this article.

Christopher Schwarz is Popular Woodworking’s Executive Editor.

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