Bruce W. Maki,
Lately I have been going crazy. My workshop has too much stuff.
I have once again reached "home improvement constipation",
a condition where no project can move forward because there are too
many other projects underway, and all those projects have parts
and pieces that are occupying space in my shop.
This organizer rack is just a simple array of holes, like the
mail sorting "pigeon holes" that you might see at a hotel
in the old days. I made this organizer from scraps of plywood, OSB
and other sheet materials that I had around the workshop.
The drawback with my "made from available materials"
approach is that the size of those available sheets dictates the
dimensions of the organizer.
There are three categories of parts to this project:
- Vertical dividers
- Horizontal base plates
- Side coverings.
|The location of the new millwork organizer... sitting
on top of the twin steel shelf units.
These storage units are 18" deep by 36" wide.
Rather than place them flat against the the wall (the obvious
choice for most people) I have arranged them sticking out,
perpendicular to the wall. When placed back-to-back these
shelf units seem to help brace each other and become less
prone to tipping. I could tie them together with some
C-clamps, but I didn't need to.
These units are supposed to hold some huge amount of
weight, like 500 pounds per shelf, but only if the load is
|Some of the materials I gathered together. I had
many 4' long scraps of OSB and ½" plywood, so I decided
to make the organizer four feet long.
||I ripped divider panels on the table saw.
I would have made all the dividers 4 inches wide, but I
chose 3-3/4" because it gave me less waste from the
material I had on hand.
|This is the first sub-assembly I made.
Essentially three dividers tacked to a piece of OSB.
||But... let's back up:
The first step in making this sub-assembly was to lay out
the divider locations on the base plate.
|I set a divider board in place and drew a line
next to it.
Then I laid a bead of urethane construction adhesive next
to the line. This will help hold everything together.
||I put the divider in position and applied a few
short beads of hot melt glue to tack the board in place.
When all the divider boards in position, I will need to turn
the assembly over, and the hot melt glue will keep the
boards from falling off.
|When all the divider panels were tacked in
place, I turned the assembly over. I had to draw some lines
marking the centers of the divider panels, so I would
know where to drive the staples.
||I drove short staples (7/8 inch) through the
base plate into the edges of the divider boards. I spaced the
staples about 2 to 3 inches apart.
This was tricky because often the staple tips would poke
out the side of the divider. It's important to hold the
stapler as perpendicular as possible.
What If You Don't Have An Air Stapler?
A small pneumatic brad nailer would work almost as well.
I prefer staples because they are basically "two-legged
If I had to build this without power nailing tools, I would
use 4d box nails, which would be about an inch-and-a-half
long. Box nails are slim nails with the head of a regular
nail. Being skinny, they don't tend to split the wood as badly
as other nails. The wide head is needed for better holding
ability. Also, small ring-shank nails should work, such as 3d
lath nails, also typically about an inch long. Most hardware
stores should carry these nails.
I might also try using short (1¼") deck screws, as
long as I didn't have too many problems with the wood
|I stacked up the first two sub-assemblies, just
to see how they would look.
You can see why I made the divider spacing different... so
I can reach the point where I need to staple the
I've seen similar projects built with all of the divider panels
lining up nicely to form a perfect two-dimensional array of pigeon
holes. But there is one MAJOR problem with this approach... you
cannot easily fasten the adjacent rows of dividers. The usual
approach to that problem is to cut a dado (rectangular groove) in
the base plates, for the dividers to fit into. That is a LOAD of
work. I have a lot of woodworking tools, but I don't even own a dado
cutter. I don't want to own a dado cutter... it sounds like a
lot of hassle for a small benefit.
||To speed things up, I applied glue to all of the
dividers at once.
|To align the sections I placed a piece of
hardboard next to the edges.
||Once all of the sub-assemblies were built, I
fastened them together with urethane construction adhesive and
|I fastened four sections together in just a few
||I stapled the "lid" on. This is
actually the bottom piece.
|I attached a cover panel to one open side...
||...and then the other. This panel is extra tall
because it will act as a fastening "tab".
Notice the different types of wood involved. I used some ¼"
plywood, ¼" OSB as well as ¼" hardboard. I could have
used lauan plywood for the base plates, which is even thinner.
|Next... I lifted this organizer into place, by
That may seem trivial to the reader, but this thing was heavy.
It must have weighed at least 80 pounds.
||I fastened the organizer to the wall with three
2½" pan head screws. I drove these screws into the
One benefit of using OSB for the wall surface in my workshop is
that I can see the staples that hold the board to the wall,
therefore I can easily locate the studs without having to use a stud
This design is meant to sit on a sturdy structure,
such as a shelf unit. I attached the organizer to the wall to
prevent it from sliding around.
This design is not intended to be simply hung from a wall,
because the structure will probably sag, which could result in
heavy and pointy objects falling on the heads of people. Not a
This design needs to be supported from below. It
might also be possible to provide support from above by using
steel strapping to suspend the side that is away from the
wall. Remember, if you start altering designs then you
are playing engineer, and it will be your fault
if something falls on somebody's noggin.
|I loaded the organizer with a few items.
Initially this organizer will be used for storing pipe clamps,
prybars, and pieces of conduit.
||This is the first millwork organizer that I
built, a couple of years ago.
When I added OSB to the garage ceiling this past summer I
slapped a coat of paint on the organizer.
I actually use this for storing millwork. Notice how this
unit is only a few inches from the ceiling. The height works
well for me... I can reach the lower slots without a stool,
and I can usually put a stick of millwork into any slot
without the aid of a stool, by simply giving it a shove.
Having materials nearby, but up and out of the way
is one of my main approaches to achieving workshop sanity. The same
goes for infrequently-used tools.
A Warning About Children:
Children and garages don't mix, yet we mix them anyway.
Anything stored up high can fall. If a falling object
is heavy enough, it can injure or kill. I suspect that
the primary danger is from objects striking a person in the
head, which can cause a lethal skull fracture. According to my
college industrial safety textbook, it takes only 600
inch-pounds of kinetic energy to deliver a fatal skull
fracture to an adult. That's like a 10 pound object falling 60
inches, or a 60 pound object falling 10 inches, or whatever.
Look at the final picture of the organizer. I have pipe
clamps and big 36" Gorilla bars (prybars) stored in
there. While those things are not likely to slide out by
themselves, they could get pushed out by children playing
There are no children in my household, and if there were
any visiting children in my workshop they would be accompanied
my an adult... me. But that is not the case in
most homes. The garage is an extension of the house, and
kids play there. If there is even a chance that
children could play in your garage, I urge you to not place
any heavy objects up high.
Back To Top
- Table Saw
- Pneumatic Stapler
- Hot melt glue gun
- 4' Ruler
- Caulk Gun
- Plywood, OSB scraps
- 4' x 4' sheet of hardboard
- ¼" crown staples,
- Urethane construction
- Hot melt glue
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