Bench-Top Tool Rack

How to build a custom organizer for frequently used tools

Bench-top tool rack

A simple slotted rack set in an opening in a kitchen countertop or workbench provides a safe, space-efficient place to store knives, chisels, saws, or squares as it protects blades from getting nicked or damaged. This rack, made with durable strips of 3/8-inch-thick hardwood, is designed to be removed for easy cleaning and refinishing.

1. Measure the blades and handles. Take the widest blade and add 3/4 inch for clearance. This will be the frame's inside width. Measure the thickness of the thickest handle and add an inch so there's enough room for your hand to reach in and grab it. Multiply that number by all the tools you intend to store and that will give you the frame's inside length. (Example for six tools with 3/4-inch handles or smaller: 6 x 1 3/4 = 10½-inch inside length.) Finally, make sure the longest blade won't hit anything below, or bump into anything above as it's being removed.

2. Make the frame. Using the measurements above, miter and glue together the frame. When the glue sets, glue two cleats to the underside of the frame's long pieces, as shown. Position their inside edges so they project about ¼ inch into the frame's opening and are no closer than ¼ inch from any outside edge.

3. Cut the spacer blocks. To find the spacer block width, measure the thickness of the thickest blade and add 1/16 inch. Multiply that sum by the number of tools the frame will store, and subtract that number from the interior length of the frame. Then divide by the number of slots, minus one.(Example for ¼-inch-thick chisel blades: ¼ + 1/16 = 5/16 x 6 = 1 7/8. Then 10½ – 1 7/8 = 8 5/8 ÷ 5 ≈ 1 3/4-inch-wide spacer blocks.) Rip-cut the frame stock to that width, then cut the spacers to the length of the frame's interior width. Glue them to the cleats, using tile spacers or old CDs to maintain consistent spacing.

4. Cut the opening. Place the frame where you want it to be on the counter or bench, and run a pencil along the outside edges of the cleats. (If you can't reach the cleat nearest the backsplash, just mark its outside corners.) Remove the frame and connect any missing lines. Inside each outside corner you've penciled in, drill four holes slightly bigger in diameter than a jigsaw blade's width. Insert the blade, start the jigsaw, and cut along the lines connecting the holes.

5. Set the frame. Insert the frame into the hole, then fill it with your tools of choice.

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Bench-top tool rack


Bench-top tool rack

illustration of a tool rack
Illustration by Harry Bates

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