Tool Storage Solutions - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Tool Storage Solutions

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.35.59 PMI’m yearning for the day I will have a space at home that is dedicated to woodworking. Right now, as many of you know, my “shop” shares space with books and my computer in my study. It’s a small room, and I have scads of books…and scads of tools. The books – most of which in said room are literary criticism and drama – are arranged by subject area (and by author within each subject) on built-in shelves, so it’s easy for me to find exactly the book I need, when I need it. (Of course, I have to visit other rooms for fiction, poetry, history…but those are well-sorted, too.)

My tools, on the other hand, are stored in a number of small boxes, plastic bins, tool rolls, a couple of hanging tool racks, my tool chest (for which I still need to complete the sliding tills). Others are downstairs in the dining room in a bookcase that I use as a china cabinet. So alongside my  Louisville Stoneware dishes are a couple lesser-used planes and saws, a few overflow marking implements and my few “collector” tools. In other words, if it’s not a tool I use a lot, I really have no idea where to find it. (With the caveat that if I’m at home, the needed tool is likely at work, or vice versa.)

So back to my dream: One day (soon, I hope), I will have a room with space enough for both power tools and all my hand tools. (As well as two full sets of hand tools so I can stop ferrying things hither and yon.) And I’ve been planning ways to organize things. While looking around today during a much-needed break from word-herding, I came across the article below (a free download – just click on the link) from the February 2007 issue of the magazine. It’s a good starting point for small-tool organization – a good place to start dreaming.


— Megan Fitzpatrick

• The free download is from a special section, “Woodworking Essentials,” that ran in most issues of Popular Woodworking Magazine from late 2003 through late 2008, covering such basic – but necessary – topics as router joinery, case construction, setting up shop, table saw use and much more. You’ll find them all (and 8,000+ more pages of woodworking plans, techniques and projects) on the Popular Woodworking Magazine 1995-2013 DVD (which also includes the video “Finishes that Pop,” from Glen D. Huey).

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Showing 5 comments
  • Brian

    The Huey chest is just what I’ve been looking for. And i caught myself drooling over the beautifully rugged hardware on the portable chest. Thanks

  • sawdustdave

    You don’t need two sets of tools. Make yourself a tool chest that’s small enough to carry the most used tools. Know anyone who might have an idea on a chest like that?

    • Megan Fitzpatrick
      Megan Fitzpatrick

      I have plenty of small chests; I’m tired of carrying them about.

  • David Randall
    David Randall

    One extra handy thing for small tools (marking knife, pencil, screws or any rolling things that otherwise could be lost in the shavings) is a bench tray. I still use my dad’s. It’s a piece of hardboard, roughly 8″ by 10″, with four strips of 1/2″ by 1/2″ stuff tacked and glued to the edges to make the shallow rim of the tray. It’s easy to slide around the bench as you work, unless you have a workpiece that occupies the whole bench top.
    It’s not perfect – if a corner overlaps the edge and you hit it, the contents are catapulted everywhere. If you are a picture-straightener however, this is unlikely as you’ll keep the tray square to the bench. If your bench has a removable centre for clamping, the tray is extra-useful in stopping rolling tools heading magnetically for the gap.
    When not in use the tray stores vertically, taking little room.

  • gumpbelly

    Thanks for the download Megan. It`s a time capsule of storage ideas from PWW, and before. Kinda nice to have Malcolm, and Glen’s chest on my work desktop. Always enjoy seeing that piece.

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