Chisel Rack

  • Advertise with us
Project by Brit posted 05-03-2022 04:52 PM 989 views 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve pontificated for far too long about building tool racks for my workshop, so I finally bought some pine, MDF and oak to build a few. This chisel rack is the first of these and a plane rack (which will be located to the left of the chisel rack) will follow shortly. I like using words like ‘shortly’ because it is basically an undefined length of time :o) Just don’t expect it in the next 30 minutes ok.

After looking at loads of chisel racks online, this one started with a few design principles:

1. The rack needs to hold all my general woodworking chisels in one place.
2. All of the tools must stand up straight and not lean over in any direction as is the case with some chisel rack designs.
3. They must not be spaced too far apart as space is a premium in my 9ft x 9ft workshop.
4. Each tool must be easily identifiable and accessible.
5. The rack needs to hang on the wall using the French cleats I put up a few years ago.
6. Where possible, I wanted the chisels to sit on their ferrules because I like a bit of bling.
7. The chisels on the top row must be removable from the front rather than having to lift the tools straight up and out as there will eventually be a deep shelf directly above the rack.

Armed with this information, I gathered all of the tools together (42 in total) and decided which of the tools would go on each row and in what order. The tools for the top and middle row seemed to take up the same amount of space in width, but the spacing for the front row was too great and therefore didn’t comply with design principle number 3. There was nothing for it but to buy another Ashley Iles Mk II bevel-edged chisel to take up the slack. I hope you understand that I HAD to do this because there is no point establishing design principles if you don’t stick to them. LOL.

I started out by making the three oak racks and fitting each tool individually in the allotted space whilst allowing for a 10mm stub tenon on each end. This was the most time consuming part of the build, but I just kept chiseling away at it (pardon the pun) and pretty soon I could clamp each one to the bench and make sure everything fitted. In a lot of cases, each tool helped make it’s own home.

The back row houses my I. Sorby English mortise chisels (1/8” up to 3/4”) along with two I. Sorby lock mortise chisels.

The middle row houses (right to left) a set of seven vintage Palm Tree firmer chisels (1/4” to 1”), three sash mortise chisels (1/16th”, 1/8” and 3/16”), three vintage Thomas Wales & Sons in-cannel gouges (1/4”, 1/2” and 3/4”), three vintage paring chisels 1/4”, 1/2” and 3/4”) by various makers.

The front row houses (right to left) my set of Ashley Iles Mk II bevel-edged chisels (1/8” to 2”), two Lie Nielsen dovetail chisels and three vintage Marples out-cannel gouges (1/4”, 1/2” and 3/4”)

Then it was on to the two pine sides. I had to make sure that I had enough depth between the front of the back row and the back of the middle row to easily pull the English mortise chisels forward and rotate them 90 degrees about their horizontal access to be able to remove them once the shelf is installed above the rack. So whilst I was working out how to hold the three oak racks in the air with only two hands, I drew a little sketch. No idea why because I never looked at it again until I photographed it for this post. I suppose it shows how designs can change as you get into a build. Then again, it could also be 15 minutes of my life that I wasted and won’t ever get back.

Once I decided on what depth the sides needed to be, I marked out where the racks would be placed height-wise. I positioned them so that I could see enough of the blade of each tool and thus comply with design principle No.4. After cutting the tenons on each end of the oak racks and chopping their respective mortises in the pine, I decided the sides would be more aesthetically pleasing if they sloped back towards the top and this should also match the slope of the plane rack that will sit alongside the chisel rack. The slope is long enough to encompass a No.8 bench plane, so we’ll see how that goes. Time for another dry fit.

I also incorporated a pine front to stop me cutting myself when reaching for something on the bench below the chisel rack. This is just screwed to the sides. The back of the rack is made from MDF with pine French cleats. The back and sides are painted in Rich Praline Eggshell paint to match the rest of my workshop and the oak racks are finished with multiple coats of Peacock oil. All hand tool work apart from drilling the holes to mount the sides to the back.

Thanks for looking!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

26 comments so far

View Boatman53's profile


1089 posts in 3686 days

#1 posted 05-03-2022 05:20 PM

Look good Brit. I think you hit all your needs.

-- Jim, Mid coast, Maine home of the chain leg vise

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10470 posts in 2071 days

#2 posted 05-03-2022 05:23 PM

Very nice, Andy! I completely understand the need to buy one more tool to fill out the rack. I try to explain this to my sweetie, but she doesn’t seem to quite get it.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Andre's profile


5290 posts in 3295 days

#3 posted 05-03-2022 05:26 PM

Functional and looks good, expected more color with the “Peacock” Oil:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Don W's profile

Don W

20432 posts in 4057 days

#4 posted 05-03-2022 05:51 PM

Well done!

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View EarlS's profile


5601 posts in 3837 days

#5 posted 05-03-2022 06:10 PM

Fine looking chisel collection with a nice display/storage cabinet.

My chisel collection fits in a small drawer, much neglected. I like the idea of hanging it off the wall cleat.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View HokieKen's profile


21983 posts in 2628 days

#6 posted 05-03-2022 06:13 PM

Lovely work Andy!

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View duckmilk's profile


5203 posts in 2814 days

#7 posted 05-03-2022 06:16 PM

Looks great Andy! Very organized and all in one accessible spot. Did you sharpen all of them before placing them in the rack??? ;-)

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View Brit's profile


8518 posts in 4332 days

#8 posted 05-03-2022 06:38 PM

Thanks guys!

Andre – I see what you did there. Clever.

Duck – Most of them are already sharp. Aren’t all your chisels sharp? Doesn’t everyone have sharp chisels? LOL. Seriously though, I think a couple of the gouges are still waiting to be commissioned.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Peteybadboy's profile


4939 posts in 3439 days

#9 posted 05-03-2022 07:10 PM


Nice looking rack!

I think I have said that before, different meaning. hmmmm

-- Petey

View Brit's profile


8518 posts in 4332 days

#10 posted 05-03-2022 07:22 PM

Thanks Petey.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Eric's profile


5681 posts in 1362 days

#11 posted 05-03-2022 07:48 PM

Very nice way to display all of those chisels. Well done. I like French cleats in the shop, helps out when the time comes to reorganize.

-- Eric, building the dream

View 987Ron's profile


4125 posts in 806 days

#12 posted 05-03-2022 07:57 PM

Well done, lots of chisels.

-- Ron

View BurlyBob's profile


10745 posts in 3755 days

#13 posted 05-03-2022 08:06 PM

That’s a very impressive collection of chisels. They deserve a fine chisel rack like yours.

View swirt's profile


7761 posts in 4461 days

#14 posted 05-04-2022 01:18 AM

Great rack for a very healthy collection of chisels.

-- Galootish log blog,

View BigAl98's profile


311 posts in 4528 days

#15 posted 05-04-2022 01:50 AM

Please don’t take this wrong, but why the big space between each rack? Couldn’t you have made the spacing 1/2 of what it is now, and still be able to pull a chisel out just as easily?

-- Al,Midwest -To thine own self be true

showing 1 through 15 of 26 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics