Most woodworking shops start with a little pegboard wall for storing tools, or a drawer or shelf. Through time, as the number of tools increases, the need for storing them efficiently also increases. In a well-thought-out tool storage system the most often used tools are right at hand, and even the rarely used tools are easy to access and can be taken out and put back without having to move other tools. Simply put, organized tool storage will improve your work habits and make your shop more efficient.

The Basics:
• Storing tools in the shop: Imaginative solutions to common problems
• Clamp storage: You can never have too many, but where will you store them?
• The toolbox: Your tools can be as portable as your skills

Storing tools in the shop
Tool storage ideas range from simple racks and holders through tool cases on up to tool storage concepts for the entire shop. At the simple end of this spectrum are solutions developed for a specific need. For example, muffin tins solve the problem of storing screws and fasteners so that they are visible and accessible. A clever pinch rack will store a half dozen handsaws while protecting the teeth, and a simple toggle on a cord will store a circular saw on the wall.

Clamp storage
They say you can never be too thin, or too rich, or have too many woodworking clamps. But as the number of your clamps grows so also grows the problem of storing them. You can’t just throw them into the corner in a jumbled heap. An efficient shop will have clamps sorted by size and type and located where they are readily accessible when you need them.

Clamp Storage

Andy Rae's clamp rack from Gripping Walls with Confidence.

The type of projects you build will dictate the kind and number of clamps you need. And in turn the number and kind of clamps will affect the design of the storage area. For example, a few bar clamps can be stored on a simple wall rack made from a couple of 2x4s. But storing a dozen handscrews and a dozen C-clamps would require a completely different approach -– perhaps a free-standing rack with several clamp-hanging arms.

Over the years, we’ve seen more suggestions for storing pipe clamps than any other. Perhaps that’s because pipe clamps are just more common than other kinds of clamps in our shops. But it is also true that pipe clamps are long and awkward and always in the way unless we have a clever system for keeping them out of the way.

Clamp storage solutions can be as simple as a cleat screwed to the wall, or as complex as a roll-around cart outfitted with custom-fitted holsters and slots. Such as system could hold all your clamps, including DeStaCo hold-downs, miter clamps, K-body clamps, bar clamps, quick clamps, face-frame clamps, and handscrews.

One clamp storage solution we have featured in Fine Woodworking is a rack that covers an entire wall and provides a place for more than 100 clamps based on a clever mitered clamp-holding cleat. We have also featured a ceiling rack for Bessey K Body Clamps and another for Quick-Clamps.

The toolbox
Once upon a time, most joiners and carpenters stored their entire collection of hand tools in a toolbox, which could be transported from job to job. The toolbox was owner built with pride, an expression of his skills.

Heirloom Tool Box

An heirloom tool chest designed by Chris Gochnour.

The toolbox not only stored and protected his tools, but was also big enough to handle most situations, and not too heavy to carry. Although times have changed and power and air tools have changed the tool universe, these conditions still make sense, especially for hand tools or installation tools.