Monday, 1 September 2014

$1.40 hanging storage unit

There's not much you can buy with $1.40 any more. Even penny candy is 5 cents now, but you can build this storage rack for $1.40 and get change back. What you store on the rack is up to you, and the dimensions of the tool will determine the dimensions of your storage rack. Mostly this project relies on scrap materials and geometry to  make up a great storage rack.

To build your rack you will need some scrap materials:
  • A backer-board - I would say about 6" X 4" is the smallest you can go, but any piece of scrap should work.
  • A hanger arm - the longer, the more you can store, but be careful that the loads aren't too heavy for your backer-board.
  • Some dowel - size depends on the weight of what you want to store. For the rack above I used 1/4". For canoe paddles I used 3/8". Garden tools might take a heavier dowel than that. Each 'arm' above used 3' of dowel. (3' of dowel costs $0.70 at home depot)
  • 4 screws to attach the arms to the backer boards.
  • Some glue.
And a handfull of tools:
  • Drills (one the same same size as your dowel, another a little bigger than the diameter of your screws. - I used a drill press)
  • Saw - I used a compound mitre saw, but you could use a handsaw.
  • Hammer to tap dowel in place.
  • Ruler and speed square for layout.

I had some scrap cedar and some scrap pressure treated boards around, so I used them for my project. Were this going into the house, or someplace on display, I might use hardwood or something more exotic. I might even look for matching scraps.I started this project off intending to only make 1 arm on my project, but a second one evolved... Things like that happen.

Our first step is pretty simple. Cut the hanger arm off at 45°. See. That took longer to type than it took to do. This is going to be an easy project!

Now measure the width of the handles of whatever you want to hang. Using a speed square make lines parallel to your 45° cutoff slightly smaller than the width of your handle, but wide enough that the shank of the tool/paddle/thing will fit in the space between. If you look in my title pic, you can see what I mean - the orange (cheap) screwdriver is being held in the concave section of its handle because it is top heavy with all its extra bits, but you can see how the racks work, and space your lines accordingly.

Measure off the edge of the board "about that much" and make a tick on each line parallel to the edge of the board. To be honest, I just laid my ruler on the board, and whatever thickness the ruler is, that's how far off the edge of the board my line is.

Turn the speed square, and make a mark on each line where the speeds square touches the first set of marks. Wow. That was a lot of geometry/measuring/layout stuff. Lets get back to tools.

Grab a drill (or drill press) and drill holes at all the marks you made. The hole size should match the size of dowel you bought.

At this point I decided to go with a double-hanger, so I got another scrap of cedar to match the first, clamped them together and used piece 'A' as a template to cut holes in piece 'B'.

Now I sanded everything smooth and removed all my layout marks. I also rounded off the corners on the boards and softened the edges so there would be no chance of splinters.

 With the hanger arms done, I moved over to the chopsaw and got a stop block set to cut dowel.

The pieces of dowel need to be twice as long as the thickness of a tool's handle, plus the thickness of the board. If they are too short, the tools will fall off the rack. Too long and they will get in the way. A happy medium is that the dowel is about 1/4" longer than the tools when the tools are hanging on them.

After you cut the dowel, lightly sand the edges to round them, and then get ready to glue them into the holes in the hanger arms. (chisels are for test-fitting only - rust optional). Have a ruler handy when you do this step. You want all the dowels to line up when installed, and none to stick out too much.

With all the dowels in place, and the hanger arm assemblies complete, we can turn our attention to the backboards. I almost made a mistake and put the arms too close together on mine, so my layout got a little messy. Also - this is going in the garage, so I didn't even try to fancy up the board, but if this was going in the kitchen to hang whisks and spatulas, i might do some toll painting or make an ogee on it. Garage storage - meh. It can be ugly.

Anyways, figure out where you want to put the arms so they look nice and are functional, and drill 2 holes slightly larger than the screws you plan to use. I used deck screws.

put a dab of glue on the back of each arm, and screw it to your backerboard, and voila! storage rack complete. Now you are faced with one final dilemma... How to hang it. I can never decide whether these should hang with the arms pointing up (gives a good view of the bottom of the tools) or pointing down (gives a good view of the handles) In the end I decided to go with pointing down.

Also since I was installing mine on pegboard, I drilled a pair of giant holes for the pegs to go through. With pegboard, I find that bigger holes work better for some reason. They are a lot more forgiving.

And here it is all loaded up and ready to go.

TaDaa - seriously, this post took longer to type than the racks took to build. Stop reading, and go get started!


  1. Hey, look at that! Very clever. Someday we're going to actually get around to organizing our garage (which came to us outfitted with about a million square feet of pegboard), and we'll have to make one of these. Dave likes the geometry parts as much as the tool parts, I think ;)

    1. Thanks Gretchen - they are a pretty nifty little storage system, and look good while being functional. I need to make another one for our garden shed!


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