A tool rack in your chest is a nice way to keep your chisels, screwdrivers and other tools close at hand and protected from damage. After experimenting with lots of different racks, here’s how I make racks for myself and customers.
I start with a length of pine that’s about 1” x 1-1/4” x the interior dimension of the chest. To lay out the holes for a set of five chisels, I set a pair of dividers for 1-1/8”. I start stepping out about 1” from the end of the rack and step off five divisions.
Then I mark out how wide the slots need to be to hold the chisels for the tools that are 1/2” wide and wider.
To mark out the remaining holes for the rack, I start about 1” from the other end and step off divisions until I reach the chisel area. I stop one step short of the chisels to make room for a screw that will attach the rack to the chest.
I then drill 1/2” holes that are centered on the thickness of the rack. When I get to the holes for the wide chisels, I overlap my holes to create those wider slots.
I remove any machine marks with a plane and then add two decorative 3/16” beads.
To attach the rack, I use #8 x 1-1/4” screws. I drill a clearance hole and countersink at either end of the rack and one in the middle between the chisel section and the rest of the tools.
I position the rack 7” from the top of the chest. You could get away with less (say 6”) if you wanted your handles a little closer to the rim of the chest. Then I drill pilot holes for the screws and screw the rack to the wall of the chest (no glue; I want to be able to remove the rack for repairs or modifications).
I like to have the rack on the front wall of the chest, though I’ve seen a fair number of chests with the rack on the rear wall.
— Christopher Schwarz