Introduction: Custom Tool Wall

Picture of Custom Tool Wall

Work space organization should be a top priority for any maker. Having a very small workshop/garage that I share with my car, utilizing every surface is a must. Deciding to move the bulk of my tool storage to the wall not only freed up much needed space on my workbench, but it makes locating that one tool much easier. When it's time to put everything away, everything has a spot making it easy to see exactly what is not where it should be.

Step 1: Planning

Picture of Planning

After having a pegboard system for many years, I didn't quite like how it worked and held my tools. Some tools always wanted to fall off and I felt that a lot of space was either wasted or cramped due to the preset distance of the pegs. When deciding on what kind of system I wanted to setup, I opted to not set up a french cleat system as I felt that once set up, the tool holders wouldn't need to be moved. French cleats have their place, but I didn't feel that my tool wall was the place for them.

If your workbench has ever looked like the first image, you are definitely in need of a tool wall. Before you get started on any tool holders, pull everything you think that you'll want to store on the wall out and sort it all. Decide what you want to have easily accessible and what you want to store in your tool box for less use. Once you've got a rough idea of what holders you need to make, start making!

Step 2: Screwdriver Holder

Picture of Screwdriver Holder

I have a fairly nice set of Klein screwdrivers that I use all the time. Naturally I wanted these to be easily accessible. I made this holder similar to a shelf with notches in it. All of the holes drilled in the top of the shelf match the base profile around the handle so they all rest securely. My original plan was to just have holes in it to lift the screwdrivers out of. After further thought, I didn't like that idea because it would mean I would need empty space above the holder to allow for the screwdrivers to be removed. Using the band saw, I cut notches from the front of the holder to each side of the hole large enough to let the screwdrivers pass through.

Step 3: Nut Driver Holder

Picture of Nut Driver Holder

This holder is made in the exact same fashion as the screwdriver holder. Though this one was much simpler as the handle profile is the exact same conical shape for all the nut drivers.

Step 4: Chisel Holder

Picture of Chisel Holder

I really liked the idea of being able to see the size of each chisel while in the holder. This was made by laying out each chisel evenly and marking the width of each. Using a flat tooth blade on the table saw, cut dados that fit the size of each chisel. Cut a piece of Plexiglas the size of the holder and clamp in place. Drill the first few holes through the Plexiglas into the wood and secure with pan head screws. Repeat this process with the other half. Mount a back piece of wood to allow you a place to secure the holder to your tool wall.

Step 5: Hand Plane Holder

Picture of Hand Plane Holder

These hand plane holders are inspired by Matthias Wandel. Start with a piece of scrap wood the width of your plane and a few inches longer on each side. Cut a small channel in the base for clearance of your blade. On another piece, draw out the profile of the heel of the plane and cut it out on the band saw. Glue that piece in place. I forgot to take pictures of this part, but find another piece of scrap wood the thickness of your plane and glue that to the top. Cut a "fork" out of another piece of scrap that fits around the front knob and glue in place. Glue edges on each side of the holder to help guide the plane in place when inserting in the holder.

I didn't want to make a tiny holder for my smallest plane, so a magnet held in with epoxy in the top of one of the plane holders is enough to secure this small plane in place.

Step 6: Combination Wrench Holder

Picture of Combination Wrench Holder

This is a very simple holder utilizing dowels at an angle to secure my sets of metric and SAE combination wrenches. Once evenly spaced, the holes were drilled just above center using a drill press. The dowels were then glued in place.

Step 7: Framing Square Holder

Picture of Framing Square Holder

The framing square is secured by the use of two L shaped brackets.

Step 8: Square Shelf

Picture of Square Shelf

This shelf was made to hold my combination, try, and set of machinist squares. A hole was later drilled to hold my scratch awl. The shelf has ledges on each side to hold the squares from falling off. A slot was cut where the squares were positioned centered to each other.

Step 9: Tape Measure Shelf

Picture of Tape Measure Shelf

This is a simple shelf with a ledge around the hole thing to keep my tape measures from falling off.

Step 10: Drill Press Vise Holder

Picture of Drill Press Vise Holder

The drill press vice is held on with two hooks made from wood attached to a scrap piece of wood. These hooks fit through the sides of the vise to hold it in place. This makes for easy removal by lifting it up and off the holder.

Step 11: Hammer Holder

Picture of Hammer Holder

These hammers are held in place with the same technique as the combination wrenches. With a larger angled dowel, these hammers should never fall off the wall.

Step 12: Marking Gauge Holder

Picture of Marking Gauge Holder

The marking gauge holder was made from a simple block. Using a spade or forstner bit, drill a shallow hole the size of the base of the gauge. This will give an edge for the marking gauge to hold onto. Drill through the center of the previous hole just a bit larger than the shaft of the marking gauge. Using a band saw, remove the front of the holder to reveal the internal slot. Drill a hole through the back of the slot to secure the holder to the wall.

Step 13: Pliers Holder

Picture of Pliers Holder

The pliers holder is simply a dowel supported by two end pieces. This holder can be adapted to any length depending on how may pliers you have.

Step 14: Depth Gauge Holder

Picture of Depth Gauge Holder

My depth gauge has two magnets attached to the bottom of it. Utilizing this, I embedded two magnets in a piece of scrap wood that will attach to the magnets of the depth gauge.

Step 15: Speed Square Holder

Picture of Speed Square Holder

I have one larger and one smaller speed squares. They each have the same hole in the same location. This allowed an easy stepped holder that could support both squares at once.

Step 16: Miscellaneous Holders

Picture of Miscellaneous Holders

Some tools used the same technique to create their holders so I didn't take any pictures of the process.

I have a cheap set of brad point drill bits that I removed from their case. I just cut out a piece of wood that would match their profile to hold them up straight. This holder was screwed to a scrap wood backing.

I have a larger shelf that was made similarly to my tape measure holder. The only difference is that this has multiple supports holding it from the bottom to ensure that it can hold more weight.

I had a few pencil holders that I made some time ago by drilling a large hole with a forstner bit in a piece of scrap wood, then securing it to the wall through the clearance hole through the front.

My digital angle gauge and dial indicator are held on a shelf. They are made in the same fashion as the tape measure shelf.

Some tools are secured by small nails just like my digital calipers are.

Step 17: Layout

Picture of Layout

Once you are happy with all of your holders, lay them out with the most common tools within reach.

Step 18: Populate the Tool Wall

Picture of Populate the Tool Wall

This is the exciting part! You are now ready to attach all of your holders to the wall. Making sure that all of your holders are level as you go, you can line up similar holders. I did this with my screwdrivers and nut drivers. This allowed me to have one more space for my ratcheting bit driver that I hadn't even planned for.

Have you made a tool wall yourself? Do you have any suggestions for improvement for my own organization or others reading this? If so, share your knowledge in the comments!


MimaTinkers (author)2017-03-30

I'm a woman in my sixties. I own and use the tools. I take care of my tools. When my husband or son use them, they rarely get put back where they belong. It looks like I'll have to follow your lead and set up a wall so I can immediately see if there's something "lost" in the garage someplace. I'll give them two days to put it back or go out and buy a more expensive version. Then if it was my son who is negligent, I'll take the cost out of his next birthday or Christmas gift money.

Lovetra (author)MimaTinkers2017-04-04

I am a woman, age 80 and the tools are MINE! I am organizing my tools on a french cleat system but see a few ideas here I will incorporate. My husbands collection plus those I have purchased.

I have 3 grandsons, and some nephews and 1 niece who like to come around and use MY tools. I would like to share . . . BUT > I intend to hand out a rule sheet with some do's, don't s, and better not abuse of, quite a few specific items to include "put back where found" or pay the consequences. Final Consequences? YOU can't borrow or work here anymore! That goes from spills, to nicked sharp instruments, boards with nails through table saws, etc, etc.

They can learn or it's all off limits. The shop is 24' x 26 feet

I am writing the Manuel as I go! It starts with safety first. Tired of replacing since I don't have a Money tree growing in the yard and I don't intend to pay for fingers or arms! A little upset with a couple of parents also.

Kieranz (author)Lovetra2017-04-23

Hi Lovetra

Couldn't agree more. Would care to share manual with all of us so that we can learn and share. Many thanks.

sarawelder (author)MimaTinkers2017-04-18

great idea!!!

tomatoskins (author)MimaTinkers2017-03-31

I like the way you think!

Skipmid (author)2017-03-30

Very well thought out and gorgeous - totally appeals to my OCD- I just need my son to vacate the premises first - maybe the wife too :) as they will use my stuff and never put it back. Well written and well executed !

AMbros Custom (author)2018-01-02

WOW Troy,
this is very great and well organize shop idea. your idea encouraging me to make similar one but with my twist.
soon i am going to make my own diy is not my hobby it's my passion..

I can't wait to see yours! Be sure to write an instructable and let me know when it's done!

tcavaness (author)2018-01-02

What is behind the tool holders? It looks like plywood. Did you install plywood over drywall? What thickness? Are the tool holders just screwed to the ply?

tomatoskins (author)tcavaness2018-01-05

Yup, 3/4 inch birch plywood. My garage doesn't have any drywall on this wall so the plywood was just secured to the studs. Tool holders screw directly to the plywood.

Robert Erxleben (author)2018-01-02

what size of plywood did you use for the wall ?????


I used a standard size 4 x 8 foot piece of birch plywood. It was cut into 3 foot sections so I could fit it in my car. Not the best, but you deal with what you have.

sineSurfer (author)2017-03-30

Just for the looks, screw everything from the back. Here's my tool wall, and a couple more add-ons.

salmansheikh (author)sineSurfer2018-01-04

Ah yes, I was just going to ask about a drill bit holder. Looking in a drawer for a certain size can be frustrating.

tytower (author)sineSurfer2017-04-02

Good stuff

tomatoskins (author)sineSurfer2017-03-31

I love it! The holder for your drill is great! I hadn't thought about building something like thiat.

sineSurfer (author)tomatoskins2017-03-31

Thanks, with the reduced space I didn't wat the drill to protrude too much.
A couple more additions to the wall and window:

Kathleen Basiewicz (author)2018-01-02

I did the same thing when I set up my less than 8X10 workshop. I am OCD and I have to be able to find everything. I am lucky that my family isn't aware of my shop yet, so far I don't have to worry about then using or borrowing my tools. I too am over 60 and proud to have this little slice of heaven.

uncle frogy (author)2017-03-30

I am always amazed by some peoples ability to organize their tools and work-space. I am a believer or sufferer of more room more stuff and my tool collection is very eclectic. I never heard of anyone with too many tools.

My big problem is one of storage of all the hardware and leftovers and usable "scrap " and what might actually be junk someday that I accumulate. They take up more space all the time. I have hung on the wall tool boxes and some tools organized in a similar way and I see some details I will add to my own "system" .

good use of space and my hats off on the discipline involved in creating it!

uncle frogy

mikej_w (author)uncle frogy2018-01-02

I used to have a very disorganized shop. Now it is less disorganized, and much easier to navigate. Now I won't buy something unless it will have a home in my shop. If I really, really want it - something else will need to be discarded to make room.

fredellarby (author)uncle frogy2017-03-30

I had to check and make sure I hadn't written this. I neither comprehend nor believe in a workshop that looks this clean and organized.

I started with some plywood on a wall and just keep hanging tools from nails into it.

theo67 (author)2017-03-30

Excellent project. I hope you can guarantee security.

I once had a well set up and displayed tool collection like yours. An enterprising burglar was able to pick the best and most expensive from my tool display. In and out in under six minutes before any response could be be effective from my alarm system. I now have a well organized tool shambles, in cupboards and tool boxes all over the place. At least I know where everything is. The extra time taken sorting out what I want for a project is more than compensated for the time and expense taken in replacing lost tools. Now let an intruder pick out the best of my collection if he can find it in under six minutes.

paulmat (author)theo672017-10-29

I use this system also but sometimes it just becomes easier to go out and purchase a new tool rather than spend the time searching for the one I KNOW I have someplace.

masoon (author)2017-06-23

Nicely done! I run an antique restoration business and have a very similar tool set up. I use a pic of my tools for my avatar.

make-it-mike (author)2017-04-28

What a fantastic Instructable! Great job! Tool organization is a huge challenge in my small workshop. It's an epic, eternal battle for between storage density and accessibility that I suppose I will be waging for my entire life. Some of the ideas presented here are going into practice in my own shop, ASAP!

Someday I expect I will have a larger shop, but then, I'll probably just acquire more tools and be right back where I started! Hah!

tomatoskins (author)make-it-mike2017-04-28

I understand completely! This is in my single car garage that I still share with a car. Everything 'fits', but getting in and out of the car is a daily challenge. :)

tytower (author)2017-04-02

Lots of good ideas there. For tape measures a piece of steel strapping from old packing crates and the like can be screwed both ends with a gap behind and clip slots over the strap

milesfromneihu (author)tytower2017-04-04

My trick for a tape measure is to cut a fitted niche in a block of LDPE foam. It's quick n easy. See photo below (milesfromneihu), lower left corner.

Lovetra (author)2017-04-04

Oh, I meant to say I particularly liked the pliers idea & the chisels. I tried one other I saw but perhaps I didn't do the measurements correctly cause I have trouble with pliers staying put, even when they are not "borrowed"

oakdeneal (author)2017-04-02

Very nice.

A motto from a good friends father stays with me all these years.

"A place for everything, and everything in it's place."

MatthewN32 (author)2017-03-31

Good idea, I can't really relate 100% because the only person who misplaces things is my nephew, who gas a tendency to think he is entitled to using (and breaking) my tools, I have quit a few drill bits broken because of him, I know its nothing big, but something like this would help for accountability of the tools

milesfromneihu made it! (author)2017-03-31

I made a modest tool board not too long ago. It aint great, but it's better than nothin'. Used LDPE (Low Density PolyEthylene foam); it's super easy to work, yet quite durable. Hot melt glue holds the LDPE. Aluminum wire (bonsai wire) for the hooks.

That's a great looking system! Keep it up!

JimOHoff (author)2017-03-28

Looks very good! Might put a guard under the chisels, hate to slice a finger reaching for a screwdriver.

tomatoskins (author)JimOHoff2017-03-31

Thanks for the input! I hadn't thought about that. Super simple fix!

ElChick (author)JimOHoff2017-03-30

I agree with your comment. That was the only criticism I had for this setup. It's a beautiful layout!

mikeasaurus (author)2017-03-29

I have a pegboard in my shop, but I really need to upgrade and solve some storage problems that aren't addressed with my system. Thanks for the ideas, Troy!

tomatoskins (author)mikeasaurus2017-03-31

Anytime! Pegboard is simple to set up and change, but it just stopped working for me.

Giovanni138 (author)2017-03-29

This is very impressive. I'm kind of jealous of this. I just have to many different tools that would not fit on a wall. I have drawers of Phillip drivers one of metric wrenches one of standard wrenches etc. If I'm needing a single tool and don't have it I'll go buy it so the style is not standard. I would love to have something like this. I guess I can do this with the tools I use the most.

tomatoskins (author)Giovanni1382017-03-31

Having too many tools is not a bad thing :)

MoP1 (author)2017-03-31


falcon13 (author)2017-03-30

Love your system, but I have windows above every bench--I think it will work in the drawer system I have. Putting most used tools together is a great idea since I will want to have only one open at a time. Loved sorting/visuals of the tools.

stepinfech (author)2017-03-30

Very Nice!!!

I have tried this before & the only problem I had was when
something got lost or broken or purchased new tools it always seemed a problem
to set things up again. I always seemed to have to many things on the go at the
same time and end up with what I call organized confusion things are exactly where I left them

JerseyNick (author)2017-03-30

Great wall with functionality and beauty and can't wait to try and duplicate it.

klschubert (author)2017-03-30

Beautiful and elegant.

Jim555 (author)2017-03-30

Way too neat and tidy

Loosestrife (author)2017-03-30

Very nice. Back in the early '80s I got the "a place for everything bug", and much of my designs mirror those in this instructable, only mine are less cosmetically pleasing. For isolated tools, I found tracing the outline on the wall helped identify where things go. My one variant I hadn't seen elsewhere involves cutting out old flannel shirt pockets and screwing them to the wall to hold heavy vice-grips, channellocks, etc.

SusanneT11 (author)2017-03-30

I plan to something like this inside a big old wardrobe that all my tools and assorted bits and bobs are in. I would like to add a small pull out bench with a vice. (author)2017-03-30

Excellent instructable. May be the motivation I need to finally tackle the chaos that is my workshop.

maewert (author)2017-03-30

I'll have to try this once I'm finished purchasing tools so I can lay them all out in a nice order... oh wait... I'm never finished buying tools so I'll never get to do this... :-(

Nice 'ible! Thanks

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics graduate studying Mechanical Engineering. I love making things and doing anything outdoors (especially SCUBA diving). I am ... More »
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