French cleats are awesome. Just pure awesomeness. Everything I make from now on that will hang on the wall will hang via french cleats. The ability to mix, match, and move whenever I need to is great. But, I think the most overlooked feature of a French cleat system is in the hanging process. Have you ever struggled to hang something pretty big on the wall? With a french cleat you simply attach the easy to hold cleat to the wall, attach a cleat to whatever it is you want to hang, and hook them together. Brilliant! Sorry, I get carried away sometimes. Now on to the project.
With my saw blades in their new home I had this open space on the wall where they used to reside.
This project started out with me just wanting to get in the shop and make something. I didn’t care what. So I found a decent size piece of scrap 3/4” plywood and looked around for what I could hang. I needed something that would be used frequently. I came up with the idea to have a few tape measures on top. A rack of chisels in the middle. And a floating bar for random plier type tool storage.
To hang the tape measures I went with a thin aluminum floor transition strip. I have several 18” cutoffs from my day job. If you don’t have one they are pretty cheap and come in many lengths.
With a plan established I went ahead and mounted a cleat to the back side. No glue. This project will be light enough that screws only are just fine.
To elevate the aluminum strip off of the platform I used a small scrap block. I didn’t want these to split so I took them and the aluminum strip to the drill press for pre-drilling. A cheap parallel wooden clamp is absolutely perfect for holding smaller parts like these at the drill press.
And the tape measure rack mounted. It will hold my two most used tape measures. I really wish I wouldn’t have tightened the screws as much as I did because it flattened out the aluminum but oh well. This is just shop project. Not a deal breaker.
And now to layout the rest of the hand tool holder. At the bottom I used another strip of the aluminum to hold the pliers. I found a scrap piece of poplar and cut it in two. Then rounded the corners. I thought that was good enough to use.
So I screwed it on from the back.
And attached anther strip of the aluminum transition. I like using the aluminum here as it will take the abuse better than a thin piece of wood and it is much thinner than a similar strength dowel so the pliers rest at a position closer to closed.
For the chisel holder I used another scrap piece of poplar. I eyeballed the spacing and marked the front corners to be rounded over.
Then I drilled 3/4” holes about 1/4” deep and followed that with a 1/2” drill all the way through.
Then cut the corners off.
And from the bottom I made slots into each hole. I slightly increased the slot width from right to left. My chisels fit in snugly and require you to pick them up about an inch before they can be removed. This way they won’t easily be bumped out of the holder.
I sanded all the edges smooth and screwed it on from the back.
It does the job just fine and was a fun way to spend a few unallocated shop minutes. The project is pretty self explanatory and you can change the sizes to fit your tools. A much wider platform would allow for many more tool options but I was just using scrap that I had. For those who are interested in this particular design I have a free PDF download below with all of the parts dimensioned.
Although this plan is free to you remember that it isn’t free to produce. If you would like to show your thanks please consider using the donate button at the bottom of this page. If you liked this project and found it useful please share it so others can do so as well. Thanks for stopping by folks and have a great day!