Pegboard Tool Storage Epiphany

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Project by Brad posted 11-16-2011 11:26 PM 26440 views 32 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Pegboard Tool Storage Epiphany
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When I started out in woodworking, I didn’t have a single chisel. So a few years ago, my brother saw to it that a set of Wood River chisels found their way under my Christmas tree.

They came in a flimsy wood case. It was nice to look at but it wasn’t useful. I couldn’t set it anywhere so that I could access the tools. Instead, I had to pull the box from a shelf, open it, pull out a chisel, use it, replace it in the box, close the cover and put it back on its shelf. Whew…That’s a long process to put an edge to wood.

So when I saw plans for a chisel caddy (sorry can’t find them :( ) in a woodworking magazine I built it. Very quickly I discovered that I don’t need a caddy. I don’t need to move chisels anywhere beyond my workbench. So it ended up suspended on some pegboard shelf supports.

Note how the wire supports extend well beyond the rack…and frequently into my head. Once, I came dangerously close to hitting my eye. That immediately reminded me of the boy who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun in the movie A Christmas Story. After my near-miss, Santa’s admonition rang in my head, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.”

As I started to acquire vintage chisels, I realized that my chisel storage had no room for more. So new vintage tools ended up on a slotted shelf I attached to the side of my router table…or in holders taking up valuable real estate on my pegboard.

A solution presents itself
Months passed and then one day I saw a Woodsmith TV episode where they built a mobile shop cart. What piqued my interest was when they mentioned building custom trays/tool supports for use on pegboard.

Moments later I was on their Website and found the project article/plan to build a customized pegboard rack. Insert link:

How it works
Finally, here was my solution. I could build an attractive chisel tray that could hold many more tools securely while eliminating the injury-inflicting shelf hooks. Here’s how the Woodsmith customized pegboard tool holder works:

The new, improved chisel rack

—Wood Selection
I could have gone the cheapest route, picking pine, but I reasoned that I would be looking at this particular chisel tray for some time and decided to spend a few extra dollars on some alder. Alder is inexpensive by hardwood standards, but I think it has some nice grain and looks great after a BLO/Polyurethane finish. At my local big-box store I picked up several pieces of ¾” x 3 ½” x 24” boards.

The Woodsmith plans call for a 1’ long tray. That would only hold the same amount of chisels as my caddy. So I thought about going with an 18” tray…then said what the hell, just go with the whole board.

My caddy has 2” spaces between the centerlines of the holes for my larger chisels. The spacing gradually decreases as the chisel sized get smaller. In use, my hand would bump into adjacent chisels when reaching for a smaller tool. So I decided on a standardizing my spacing at 2” for all the holes. That would give me slots for 11 chisels.

I laid out the center lines for the holes, setting them at 2” intervals and 2 ¼” inches from the back of the board. Then I drew lines ¼” on each side of the center line. These would be cut out to form the slot that the chisel could pass through when retrieved.

Next I drilled 5/8” holes with my 10” Craftsman hand brace fitted with a forstner bit. This hole size worked well for my chisel ferrules on the caddy, so I used it here. Then I used my backsaw to cut the slots.

After that I chamfered the holes and all the edges (except the bottom rear edge which will support the weight of the tray). For this I used my router table with a 45 degree chamfer bit.

In retrospect, I should have done as much work as possible before drilling the holes and sawing the slots. All those edges easily catch on plane edges and tear out was a bear.

My advice is to do all the chamfering and smooth-planing before any holes or slots are cut.

Then it was time to lay out the holes for the three L-hooks I used. I did this by holding the tray up to the peg board and marking the locations. I didn’t notice at the time that one of those spots fell in line with a ferrule hole, so when I drilled the L-hook hole, it broke through.

To prevent splitting, I drilled a pretty big hole for the L-hooks and as deep as the hardware would run. Even so, I had to use a wrench to help me finish screwing them in to their final depth.

Once the test-fit into the pegboard proved true, I removed the L-hooks to finish the piece. I used my #4 on the faces and edges (going very lightly along the slotted edge to avoid tear out). This was followed by two coats of BLO and spray-on poly.

—Installing and using
The L-hooks work like a charm for affixing the tray to pegboard. The 1/8” chamfer on the top rear edge allows it to tip sufficiently to seat it. And it holds it securely too.

Here’s some after shots.

And here’s the comparison between the you’ll-shot-your-eye-out-kid version and the new one.

I love the look of it. And the lack of any pointy things poised to take a ding out of my head or eye. I also like the extra spaces for future additions.

Next up, two things:

—Build a rack to hold my four try squares
—Set my DVR to record A Christmas Story.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

15 comments so far

View schuft's profile


123 posts in 3417 days

#1 posted 11-17-2011 12:44 AM

Great post. And I love that movie, I’ll probably watch it at least three times this December ;)

View MasterSergeant's profile


1439 posts in 3498 days

#2 posted 11-17-2011 12:45 AM


-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Tim Christensen's profile

Tim Christensen

67 posts in 3268 days

#3 posted 11-17-2011 12:53 AM

I actually saw the same article and plan on making multiple shelves for various things in my shop!!

-- Tim C., Sgt. Bluff, Iowa.

View clieb91's profile


3976 posts in 4745 days

#4 posted 11-17-2011 03:26 AM

Brad, A real nice description for you solution. I saw something on one of their shows quite a bit ago and made a few different types of holders, but just out of 2×4s. Need to still add a few of the L screws to my chisel rack as it is currently sitting on the back of my bench, just have to find space on my wall :))


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View WoodSpanker's profile


560 posts in 4202 days

#5 posted 11-17-2011 10:41 AM

Some epiphanies are good one! seems you had a good one. Plus which, you detailed it enough that now your epiphany can be OUR epiphany also. :)

-- Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Woodworker craves not these things!

View Ken90712's profile


17888 posts in 3999 days

#6 posted 11-17-2011 01:07 PM

Nice job, I have a set of these as well. Still using the cheap box though.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View WilcoFlier's profile


58 posts in 3823 days

#7 posted 11-17-2011 05:02 PM

Nice solution!

How do the woodriver chisels perform?

-- Wilco Flier

View ChesapeakeBob's profile


368 posts in 4293 days

#8 posted 11-17-2011 05:16 PM

Great report and photos! Keep on collecting those vinatge tools and continue posting here!


-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3219 days

#9 posted 11-17-2011 05:46 PM

Excellent idea. Last night I was looking at the wall and wanting to put up a peg for some clamps. The problem was I have a cabinet that I am NOT taking down to put up a peg hook that is long enough to hold the clamps. Now having seen your idea I have some work to do in the evening after ASE exams, feed the cats, feed me, etc etc etc.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View cannondale's profile


54 posts in 3874 days

#10 posted 11-17-2011 06:57 PM

That is going to change my shed set up. Thanks for sharing your great idea. I have a peg board and this will enhance it nicely!!!

View poopiekat's profile


4781 posts in 4544 days

#11 posted 11-17-2011 08:38 PM

Fantastic method for attaching wood-to-pegboard!!! I’m going downstairs right now to make that little shelf I want for pencils and tape-measures, two items hard to incorporate into pegboard storage!! Great! Thanks for posting!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16814 posts in 3428 days

#12 posted 11-17-2011 08:54 PM

Excellent presentation, nicely done! And the detail for cutting the chisels holes is wonderful. Thanks!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View StumpyNubs's profile


7826 posts in 3610 days

#13 posted 11-17-2011 11:24 PM

I made a lot of these for all sorts of tools a couple years ago. Those little “L” hooks work great. Problem is, I hate the look of pegboard on the walls. But it’s a great idea!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Brad's profile


1146 posts in 3550 days

#14 posted 11-18-2011 03:35 AM


Yeah, pegboard isn’t sexy, but the white pegboard I used looks much better than the brown. It keeps with the principle of painting my workspace white to help reflect light. I view pegboard as an interrem storage solution until I gain the skills needed to craft fine tool cabinets.

Another BIG plus is that I can get a good feel for how I like to organize my tools in use. So when I do get around to spending big bucks on good wood to build my cabinets, I’ll know how to lay them out according to my tastes.

Still another advantage of the modular tool supports using L-hooks is that I can practice making shelving that I would have to make for the cabinet.

I’m working on a backsaw till using the pegboard mounting system. That will give me a lot of practice: a) practice cutting dovetails, b) practice designing tool storage to fit my tools and preferences.

I like my Wood River chisels. They aren’t top of the line—meaning that they don’t hold an edge as sharp or as long as my vintage Pexto chisel, but they’ve been serviceable. I have hammered them with my small deadblow hammer and now the mallet that I built and the handles have stood up nicely to it. When I balance the price against the performance, I’d say they’re a good value.

I’d rather make mistakes with these chisels than with the Lie Nielson ones I’ll eventually add to my inventory. At $55 per chisel, that’s no small matter.

I also didn’t want to spend a lot on chisels initially until I had uncovered my preferences. Preferences in steel amalgams, handles, lengths, shapes and sizes. I’m furthering my trip down that road through vintage chisels right now. I’m picking up different makers and styles (firmer versus bevel for example) to get a sense for them and what I prefer.

I’ve also found that I rarely use my 1” chisel and almost never use my 1 1/2” chisel. I almost exclusively use the following sizes: 1/8”, 1/2” & 3/4”.

That’s my take.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View rrdesigns's profile


538 posts in 3996 days

#15 posted 11-18-2011 04:21 AM

Great presentation of your project. Loved the history and the solution. Thanks for sharing.

-- Beth, Oklahoma, Rambling Road Designs

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