Not all useful projects need to be enormous undertakings. Sometimes it’s the simple ones that have a large impact. This is especially true with shop projects. Increasing shop efficiency is a continuous cycle where all of the small little things really start to add up. Making a simple, universal tool holder for lathe tools is a great example of this. Simple, but with great added convenience.
As I’ve already said twice in the paragraph above, simple is the key word with the design. This doesn’t have to be complicated so the design we went with is just a three-sided, open front tool holder with some type of holders that would accommodate various types of tools.
I also happened to have a good friend of mine in the shop with me while making this. Matt Lane is a fellow YouTube woodworker from the next state over. He stayed a week here to help knock out a few projects and this lathe station was one of them. Be sure to stop by his website or subscribe to his YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of his new videos.
For the structure we used a scrap piece of 1/2” hardwood plywood. This is PureBond hardwood plywood from Home Depot. It’s the best plywood I’ve found at less than $50 per sheet of 3/4” (where I live anyway). It’s also formaldehyde free and made in the USA. This piece of scrap was more than long enough so we just ripped a 10” section of it off.
You might be able to tell from images that I didn’t do any work on this project. Matt just happened to lose his voice the day before we started this so he did all the work and I did all the talking. Next up was cutting the pieces to length at my miter saw station. He cut two identical pieces for the sides and whatever was left in the middle ended up being the back piece.
Joinery is like underwear. Lots of choices so choose the one that fits you the best. It’s really easy for me to cut box joints so that’s the route we went. I like box joints to be symmetrical from side to side so we ended up gang cutting the side pieces first and then cut the appropriate layout on the back piece.
To reduce the bold, boxy look of the structure we tapered both side pieces from top to bottom. There is no specific angle we chose. We just lined it up on my multi function hold down jig until it looked alright and then made the cut. Easy as pie.
Gluing this project up was a difficult process that required all three of us. It was a little stressful to get everything together but we were alright in the end (joking).
I didn’t want to cut specific size tool holders for specific size tools as I know tool options change and preferences change. So I opted to use PVC for the holders. Two sizes to be exact. 1-1/2” for the smaller tools and 2” for the larger tools. This gives me a lot of room for adjustments or rearranging down the road. To cut the holders we setup a stop block and sacrificial fence on the miter saw and cut both ends of each piece at 45 degrees. The angle isn’t critical. Close enough is good enough for it to work properly.
Securing the holders to the back panel is pretty straight forward. Predrill holes for small 1/2” screws. The 45 degree angles provide access for the screws as well as keep the bottom of the tubes open so they won’t clog up with shavings.
Once assembled it could be attached to the cart. A couple small glue blocks were added to the inside bottom edge of the side pieces. Two screws are all that is needed through these glue blocks to secure the tool holder to the cart. The good thing about this is that it can be easily removed and re-positioned if needed.
And here’s how the completed stand looks all filled with tools. Everything is conveniently within an arms reach. I know some will frown from storing the tools with their cutting edges exposed but that isn’t an issue to me.