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tool storageTool storage – is it the most controversial subject in the craft? People have debated it. Great books have been dedicated to it. Philosophies have developed and wars fought over it (well, at least flame wars). I’m quite sure many woodworkers spend their entire woodworking careers pursuing it.

Here, I’m going to put the subject to rest. In my opinion, the cheapest, most efficient and flexible way to organize and protect tools for the majority of woodworkers is to just hang ’em on the wall. The literal and proverbial nail in the wall to hang your hat works equally well for chisels, planes, saws and whatnot.

I say it’s the most efficient method because storage, organization and use are all rolled into one. There is no forethought on what tools must be removed from a chest or drawer then temporarily stored on a bench or shelf for the task at hand. When it’s on the wall, you just grab it, use it and put it back. You won’t forget where you put it last because it’s always in the same spot. It’ll always be ready and waiting for use. It’s this efficiency that I love so much.

It also completely eliminates the traditional woodworking characteristic of an underdeveloped object-permanence due to the refusal to leave the “sensorimotor” stage. No more, “where did I put that?” Undoubtedly, those who don’t store tools within eyesight end up with drawers filled with the same screwdriver, tape measure, chisel and uneaten snacks. All drawers eventually become junk drawers. It’s an evolutionary fact.

Additionally, wall-storage units can be built and installed in minutes, not days. First, buy a piece of plywood (even the cheap big box variety). Then, rip a 2×6 down the middle at a decent angle to create two parts with a mating side. Screw one board to the plywood, then screw the other board to the wall, and you have a strong French cleat. Then it’s just a matter of placing some sort of spacer on the bottom of the plywood so it will hang straight and your tool storage system is built. Could it be any simpler?

From there, the options for tool placement are infinite. Customize it any way you want with nails for hooks, dowels as stands, holes drilled in wood for supports or even simple boards sitting on nails as shelving. More than likely you can use up that scrap pile of lumber you’ve been hoarding.

Although there are other options in the realm of hanging tools, such as a pegboard or a slat wall, I have yet to find anything simpler than anchoring plywood.

So there you have it. Subject closed. No need for debate. If you need a spot for a chisel or saw, just put it on the wall within easy reach. There is absolutely no way you could possibly expand upon, identify flaws or come up with new options to my thinking in the comments below…


— Shawn Graham


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Showing 4 comments
  • bergeo

    What thickness of plywood?

  • tsstahl

    I only agree when it comes to daily use. From experience, open air tool storage leads to a lot of rust. As a hobbyist there are times when weeks and even months go by between uses of a tool in my basement shop.

    I use wall storage in the garage like it is going out of style. I love knowing that something is missing at a glance. Even here, the tools susceptible to rust are enclosed in some fashion, though.

    So….you can’t change my mind, either. 🙂

  • Ginaf

    Great ideas
    Also a bit of a problem here in the land of instantaneous rust. Alas.

  • Les Groeller

    A great video, informative and entertaining too! While I agree for the most part, many with windows in our shops/garages, etc. probably have a concern about having our tool collection out for all to see, even when we aren’t home. In my case I use drawers as more of a security feature than anything. Provides at least a little peace of mind. One learns to work with the system one has for whatever reason.

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