Tool Wall / Board

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NomadNomad Frets: 501
edited January 10 in Making & Modding

Last October, I started putting up a tool wall in my workshop in an effort to try and get things more organised. This followed on from a clamp rack that I had made from a spare bit of 18mm ply, which had shown me how handy it is to have some stuff at least hanging on the wall.

With the clamp rack, I just screwed the ply to the wall, and then added various bits of wood to make clamp holders by screwing them onto the ply. When I started making the tool wall, I initially went for a similar approach - I got a full sheet of 18mm ply cut into three bits at B&Q, worked out where the studs were in the wall, and screwed them on. I then paused and wondered if there was a better way to fix the tool hangers than just screwing them onto the ply. I wanted something that was fairly versatile, such that I could move the tool hangers around, but I didn't want it to end up in a mess with old screw holes.

I went off and did some searching and eventually found this video on YouTube...

In essence, when he wants to add a new hanger, he drills holes in the board at fixed intervals, fits threaded inserts into the holes, and then uses machine screws to hold the tool hanger in place. If he wants to move things about, he just drills some more holes, ands new inserts, and moves the hangers.

I really liked this idea of using threaded inserts, but wasn't so keen on just having pencil marks on the boards. So, I gridded my boards with the lines 50mm apart, centre-punched each intersection, and then removed the pencil marks...

This way, I don't have pencil marks all over the boards, and the locations for drilling are ready-punched. The boards were then given a coat of shellac. To fit an insert, which looks like this...

...I drill a 3mm pilot hole, and then take it out to 7.5mm. The small drill locates easily in the puch marks, while the bigger one wouldn't. I dab a little bit of gorilla glue onto the insert and smear it around the threads, and then screw it in with a hex bit on a screwdriver. When testing on a bit of scrap, I found that there was a chance of an insert unscrewing from the ply if the machine screw that was in it had been tightened a bit against the flange - adding the glue made the difference in terms of grip and kept the insert in place. So, I always add a bit of glue, and wipe away the squeeze-out as soon as the insert is fitted.

The thread inside the insert is M6, so I got a variety of M6 screws from Screwfix, along with some inserts...

The dark bit of wood with the notch at the corner is used to help keep the 3mm pilot holes perpendicular when drilling. The rectangular bit with the holes is a template for making some kinds of tool hangers. The holes are on a 50x50mm pitch, and the edges are 20mm away from the holes. The outer shape can be used to determine the overall size of a hanger, and a transfer punch used to mark out the hole positions prior to drilling.

It was used to mark out these hammer hangers...

Having the edges at 20mm from the holes in the template means that, when the hanger is made and hung up, there is a guaranteed gap between it and an adjacent one, as can be seen here. If the edges on the template were 25mm away, the sides of the hangers could butt against each other, making it potentially awkward to get the screws in. Even at that, there is a slight lack of precision in any case - I've found that a 6.5mm drill is good for making the holes in the hangers to give a little bit of slack to help align the screws with the inserts.

The hanger designs tend to be worked out as tools come along for being hung...

The little frame saws were easy - a standard two-screw hanger with a bit of 15mm dowel sticking out at an upward angle. The hangers through the saw handles are a thicker block of wood cut to fit in the handle, with a bit of ply glued to the front that has a lip at the top. Material is removed from the bottom edge to make clearance for the handle to get over the lip. The ones for the two gents saws were a bit more involved. The razor saw on the left, is raised up and drawn away - the bit of wood sticking out at the top of the hanger, stops the saw tilting to the right. The fret slotting saw has a cap screw at the top to stop it tilting to the left. This one is removed by swinging the bottom out to the left and drawing it away.

I went through various ideas for the planes, and eventually came up with this...

There were a few things to consider with these. The shelves needed to be fairly strong, and I didn't want to limit the number of inserts used - the last thing I want is for inserts to be pulled out. I also didn't want to have the shelves sticking out too much, didn't want any metal shelving brackets or the like that the planes might hit, and I wanted to minimise the space they used. I eventually came up with these floating shelves that are nicely over-engineered with lots of inserts and long cap screws.

Tonight's effort was these little hook-shaped bits of wood for levelling beams and a radius block...

These have the tools tilted up to help keep them in place because they're more prone to moving around if they get nudged compared to the planes (which are heavy and on shelves that are level).

The main two things that are needed from a hanger are that it holds the tool securely and that the tool is easy to remove and replace. Most of the ones I've done so far use a hook shape of some sort - the tool has to get over a lip, over the end of a sloping dowel, or over a concave shape in a horizontal dowel. Some hangers are just holders for screws, where the head of the screw is the constraint, and some are just an M6 cap screw straight into an insert, with a locknut against the insert to stop the screw coming loose.

A few of the hangers took a bit of thought to get something that works, but making more of them once a particular design has been worked out is generally pretty quick - the template really helps, because there's no need for measuring to make the bit that screws to the wall (and most of the rest isn't so demanding on precision that you need to measure much anyway - often just sketch lines around the tool to be hung).

Nomad
Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501
    edited January 10

    Here's my tool wall as it stands at present...

    The mains strip is on a hanger, of course - it has already been moved to the left to ease the routing of the cable for the overhead LED strip lights (still to be tidied up). The strip lights are on a lightweight gantry that's also fixed to the tool wall - one of the angle brackets can be seen in the picture of the small saws above.

    The wall is 2.4m wide and 1.2m high. I don't plan to put everything on it - it's really about having a place for all the tools that were getting in the way, like the planes and chisel rack lying on benches, small saws cluttering up a drawer, big saws and long rulers/edges/levels leaning against things and always falling over (and having to be searched for). Small stuff like hand tools and guitar-specific tools live in the little wooden chest at the bottom left, and will continue to do so.

    A few things have already moved around as more tools have been added and the layout has evolved. Adding new inserts is quick and easy, and the inserts themselves are dead cheap (£2.35 for a bag of 50 at Screwfix). When you move stuff, you don't move the inserts - you just leave them in place. (There have been a few cases where some inserts have been reused.)

    Note that it's not advisable to just fit inserts at all of the intersections. Each panel has 24 rows of 16 marks, making 384 intersections. With three panels, that's 1,152 inserts to fit. Not hugely expensive if you're investing in your workshop, but you'll be losing your mind and wondering what happened t your life - just doing  the gridding, centre-punching and rubbing out took me ages (exacerbated a bit because I was doing it with the panels on the wall). Drilling all the holes (twice) and then gluing and screwing the inserts in is probably a step too far.

    Even though the preparatory work took a long time, I would say that it was well worth the effort. Of the various approaches I found to doing a tool wall, this really works - everything is accessible, solid, nothing has fallen off, and moving things around is a breeze. I'm so pleased with it, I'm planning to add another two 1m high panels to another wall, to be used mainly for things like templates and to provide space for hanging guitar(s) in progress. Now that I know that the strength is good when several inserts are used (like with the plane shelves), I'll have no concerns about hanging a guitar on something like this. I'll also do the gridding and punching with the panels on a bench, so I'll see if that goes quicker.

    The hangers are all made from scrap softwood, incidentally. My machine bench used to be a door resting on some Ikea trestles. When that got upgraded, the trestles were dismantled and stacked up (nice, knot-free wood). They're now gradually being cut up as new hangers are needed. This means I'm basically using two profiles of wood for everything, which makes coming up with hangers a bit easier - for example, the thicknesses are known, which means I know what screw lengths will work. Basically, most of the hangers are now pretty standardised, so the only thing I have to think about is the bit that holds the tool.

    For anyone that's working in the sort of chaos I was, something like this is highly recommended. Getting all of the crap out of the way and into dedicated places has made a big difference to my workshop - far more usable because there is space, and it's much easier to tidy up because there are places for things to go.

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1657
    Looks good, @Nomad

    I like the flexibility this offers.  Hmmm....might steal this idea....
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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501
    Looks good, @Nomad

    I like the flexibility this offers.  Hmmm....might steal this idea....

    Feel free. That's what I did. :)

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • SporkySporky Frets: 12751
    That's excellent!
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501

    Template Mk2...

    Knocking a corner out gives marking edges for hangers that are 1, 2, 3 or 4 locations wide.


    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1495
    @Nomad I can't begin to explain how much joy such a neat and well organised tool board gives me. And thanks for taking the time to detail all the steps, I'd love to have something like this in my garage.
    Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
    My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501
    BigMonka said:
    @Nomad I can't begin to explain how much joy such a neat and well organised tool board gives me. And thanks for taking the time to detail all the steps, I'd love to have something like this in my garage.
    It's well worth doing - details on preparing a board coming up.

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501

    I've started doing the second tool wall (for hanging templates, jigs, guitars, guitar bits), so I thought it would be good to document the preparation of a board since that had already been done with the first wall.

    The most important thing with this is to work as accurately as you can with regard to laying out the punch marks that will be used when drilling for fitting the inserts. The more precisely you can keep to your chosen grid pitch, the easier it will be to move stuff around. If things are not accurate enough, a tool hanger that works in one location can have misaligned holes in another, meaning you have to enlarge the fixing holes in the hanger. With my first wall, I settled on 6.5mm fixing holes for M6 screws, and this has been close enough so far, although some have been marginal. Ultimately, you'll find out what size of fixing hole works for your level of accuracy. Once you've sussed that out, stick to it for all hangers to make relocation quick and easy.

    Remember: it's easy to make a few punch marks that are spot on, but not so easy to make several hundred punch marks that are all spot on. And, spot-on punch marks aren't much good if the grid intersections are out of position.

    Here's the bit of ply that I'm going to make a board out of...

    It's 800mm wide and 1000mm high, 18mm thick softwood-faced. Softwood faced is better than the hardwood-faced stuff because the latter can be splintery at the edges, and may well not take the inserts as well. An 8x4' sheet of this stuff won't fit in my vehicle, so I get it from B&Q (when they have it in stock), and get them to cut it up into manageable sizes. I find their cutting to be very good - nice and square, and good to within about 1mm. The manageable sizes are also much easier to prepare and hang on the wall (especially if you're working solo).

    Before chucking lines and punch marks at the bit of ply, and even before it's cut up, have a plan for where the marks are going to go. By that, I mean work out the relationship between the pitch of the grid and the size of the board. For mine, with a 50mm grid, I want the outer rows and columns to start 25mm - half the pitch - in from the board edges, meaning the board size is a multiple of the pitch. That way, with a bit of luck, a tool hanger could span the join between two boards because the two outer columns each 25mm from their edges will (should) be 50mm apart. Also consider the positions of studs if it's going into a stud partition wall - you want to keep the fixing holes away from the insert locations.

    When I did the first wall, I used an offcut of ply as a marking-out gauge, and I reused it for this board...

    Clamping it in place means it won't move while marking. The lines were marked on the gauge with a long ruler, and then taken out to the edges with a try square...

    If the lines come right down to the edge that's on the board, there is no parallax error that would result from them just being on the top surface of, say, a thinner strip of wood. On my gauge, the first mark is 25mm from the end, and they're 50mm apart thereafter. It was made for the original 1.2m boards, so extends further at the end shown above.

    Use a sharp pencil that's already made a few marks on something to ensure the very tip isn't fractious. A harder lead is good - HB wears down too quickly, and I've found that 2H is very good -stays sharp, doesn't make marks that are too dark (dark marks means more rubbing out).

    Small hatch marks are made around all four sides, and then a heavy steel ruler is used to draw straight lines between one set of opposing hatch marks (heavy means it doesn't slide about), before doing the perpendicular marks as shown below...

    Note that the second set aren't full lines. They're not needed, and they'll add a lot of time when it comes to rubbing them out. When I did the original wall, the boards were already on the wall, so I did full lines in both directions  because it was quicker per set of intersections - I wanted to avoid the ruler slipping on the vertical surface. Rubbing them out afterwards took ages.

    with the marking out done, make a centre mark at each intersection. After trying a couple of methods, I found the following tools to be the easiest to use...

    The main thing with the centre punching is to keep in mind that you're doing a lot of them (320 on this board). A few marks with an awl or automatic centre punch by hand are fine, but it starts to take a toll on you when you're doing loads. The awl and rubber mallet was much better for me physically.

    Also mark out where your fixing holes are going. These boards are going onto a concrete wall, so I can just centre them in suitable locations...


    Punch those and then rub out all of the pencil marks to get...

    ...a pile of debris and a smaller rubber.

    Drill and countersink the fixing holes, give the edges a sand to make them nicer to handle when hanging, and slap on some finish...

    A quick sand to knock back the grain, and it's ready to hang.

    I timed myself for this one - took just about 2 hours in total. 30 minutes for the marking out, 45 for the centre punching, 10 minutes for the rubbing out (way, way faster), and about 30 for the drilling, edge sanding and finishing.

    Finishing is recommended if you glue the inserts in - it's easier to wipe away the squeeze-out.



    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501

    The second tool wall is done...

    The clamp rack has been there for about a year and was probably what kicked off the workshop tart-up in earnest (it was the first thing I did to try and reduce the chaos). Two more LED strip lights on a gantry for area lighting. Another strip light will go onto the left-hand wall, over the storage units that can be seen beyond the drill press - there's a little belt/disc sander in there. Adding a light there should fill this general area quite nicely.

    The first hanger on this will be for a mains strip, and then I can see about getting things like templates and jigs onto it.

    Depending on size, a board works out to about a tenner, and about the same again should get enough hardware to hang plenty of stuff on it - just add bits of scrap wood for hangers. The lamps are 1000 lumen, 8.5W, bought in Lidl for a tenner each, and the gantry is just offcuts and two heavy duty right-angled brackets.

    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1657
    Some great tips and illustrations.  Excellent thread @Nomad :)
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  • NomadNomad Frets: 501
    edited January 20

    Glad you like it, Andy.

    Been doing bits to the second tool wall. After attaching the mains strip and adding a long cap screw to hang templates on, I made these...

    The screws are done up tight to stop them from rotating, basically making an adjustable-width version of the hammer hangers seen earlier. Just some scrap batten, bits of 15mm dowel, with some cork glued on, to make a neck hanger...

    Making them adjustable allows for different neck widths, and if one is repositioned, it should be possible to set them up for necks that spread out from the nut asymmetrically.

    Next, I made a couple of these...

    A scrap of CLS with a scrap of 5mm ply at the end to provide a lip (another variation on the hook shape), and some cork on top.

    In the big counter-bore, there's a long cap screw and washer...

    ...and at the other end, another counter-bore for a nyloc nut that's been put on back to front...

    To get a nyloc on back to front, thread it on normally and work it back and forth a few times to form the thread into the nylon insert, then take it off and thread it back on insert-first. although nylocs aren't supposed to be reused, you still get a decent amount of friction.

    A little bit of the nut is left sticking out so that, when it's screwed to the wall, the nut nips up enough to secure the screw while leaving the wooden block free to rotate, which means that the blocks take up a position that conforms to the profile of whatever guitar body rests on them...

    To stop the body tipping forward (even though it's quite stable), a couple more hooky block things are fitted higher up, but screwed down tight to stop them rotating...

    ...and a retainer bar slotted in to arrest any undesirable movement of the body...

    There's a notch at each end of the bar to stop it sliding left/right.

    Here's the second tool wall with bits added...

    I've still to come up with a hanger for a built guitar that's being oiled. Once that's done, this tool wall will be just about complete apart from maybe adding more templates as they're made, and possibly one or two clamping cauls. I had thought about adding jigs to this, but I'll see if they can fit into storage boxes first.



    Nomad
    Nobody loves me but my mother... and she could be jivin' too...

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