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tool rack

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.

tool rack

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

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Showing 5 comments
  • Danny H.

    Chris, I know you are into using by gone traditional tools and hardware of the past and that’s OK. Just want to convince you that its also OK to use modern tools and hardware also ! Now could you please take those slotted, clocked screws out and put in some Phillips or Square head , or maybe even some Allen or Star head ones. Not everything needs to be period correct all the time ! knowing you though, those are probably the only ones you have on hand .

  • Naomi

    I’m really sorry to bother you.
    I don’t know where or who to ask.
    I’m missing a little metal rod thing for the caster wheel and I can’t lift the fan. I need to push it as I’m very old and not strong. What is it called? I can’t buy one as I don’t know what to ask for.
    Please help me find one. I don’t know where to start
    Thank you very much.

  • Derrick


    If you were to modify this to have the additional slot between the rack and the chest back for other tools (back saws, squares, etc.) how would you do it? Just add the appropriate sized space blocks where the screws penetrate, or would you reposition/reorder anything?

    Thanks! I wish I had added the bead to mine, but since it is screwed on I guess I can.

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