How to Make a Spanner Rack
Making a Simple Spanner Rack in 8 Easy Steps
I am always looking to improve the way I store my woodworking tools in my workshop; the shed at the end of the garden. My main aim is to have tools to hand where they can easily and quickly be found and accessed when needed; and to reduce the amount of time spent on trying to remember where I put them and looking for them by rummaging through the bottom of tool boxes or drawers. My other aim is to maximise on space saving ideas for storing tools and tool boxes to minimise on having to move things out of the way to get to tools when doing DIY crafting projects. To this end I have recently done a number of small DIY space saving/tool storage projects in my workshop and 'how to make a spanner rack' is one of them.
Below is a step by step guide on a simple project for making a simple rack for storing spanners; and all photos shown here were taken by me.
Tool Organisation Low Cost Solutions
When wood crafting for the home it has to look good as well as being functional and durable. In making something for use in my shed (DIY workshop) looks are not so important although it should still be functional (fit for purpose) and durable.
With this in mind my objective was to make a simple rack from scrap wood to hang my spanners, and fix the rack in a convenient place (not used for anything else), where the spanners would be to hand and be within easy reach when needed. Prior to starting this project these spanners were stored in a small toolbox high on a shelf; out of sight, out of mind. And as it’s something that would be for the workshop rather than in the home I was keen to do this project on a zero budget; the only cost being a little bit of my spare time.
Step by Step Guide to Make a Simple Spanner Rack
In Eight Easy Steps
Make sure you have all the tools and materials to hand before you start, including the wood which should be long enough to conveniently hold all the spanners when they are hanging up. Ideally the wood should be about 1/2 inch thick (12 mm), although 3/4 inch (18 mm) would be OK, and it should be about 2 or 3 inches wide. If you don’t have any suitable scrap wood skirting board would be ideal and for a dozen spanners (as pictured in this article) 18 inches should be sufficient.
If you use a suitable piece of scrap wood and existing nails in your shed then this DIY project can be done on a zero project. If by chance you need to buy the materials an 8 foot piece of 3 inch skirting board and a box of 1.5 inch oval nails should cost no more than $15.
Time required: 1 hour
- 3 inch skirting board
- 1.5 inch (40mm) oval nails
- 2 wood screws
- 2 wall plugs
- Tape measure
- Masonry drill bit
- Wood drill bits
- Spirit level
- Vice or clamps
- Sandpaper or sander
1. Layout the spanners in a row on your workbench, as they would look if they were hanging up, leaving enough space between each spanner so that they are not touching and could be easily grabbed for use.
2. Measure the full width of all the spanners when laid out on your workbench, adding a little extra at each end e.g. 1/2 inch so when hung on the spanner rack the end spanners will not be up tight or touching anything on the sides. Then measure the length of the longest spanner and add a couple of inches to allow for plenty of space for easy access when the spanners are hanging on the spanner rack.
Then find a convenient space for hanging your spanner rack that is larger than the measurements you've taken (overall length and width) either above your workbench, on one of the walls with easy access near the workbench or on the side of a cupboard that is in easy reach.
3. Measure and cut your scrap wood or skirting board to the required length in accordance with the measurements you previously made; which for a dozen spanners may be about 18 inches.
i. Use a tape measure and pencil to measure and mark the length.
ii. Draw a straight line at the point with a pencil and square.
iii. Then either use a bench saw or a hand saw to cut your wood to length along the marked line.
4. Using a wood drill bit smaller than the screw size to be used, drill a pilot hole about 2 inches from each end of your wood, near or above the center of the width of the wood e.g. for 3 inch wide skirting board about 2 inches in and 1.5 inches down from each end. If you intend to use size 4 or 4.5 screws then a 3mm drill bit will be ideal.
5. Mark a straight line about one third from the top of the scrap wood (or skirting board) and at regular intervals e.g. every 1.5 inches pencil mark the straight line. Then using a small wood drill bit drill pilot holes at each marked interval, at a slight upward angle.
The drill bit should be thinner than the oval nails to be used e.g. 2mm drill bit, and the purpose of the slight upward angle for the drilled holes is to help ensure the nail pegs are hammered into position at an upward angle. This upward angle of the metal pegs will help to keep the spanners in place on the rack and prevent them from slipping off.
6. Gently hammer an oval nail part way into each pilot hole; about a third (or half an inch) of the length of the nail so that about half an inch protrudes. Ensure each nail is firm and doesn't wobble, and if it isn't tap it in a bit further or if necessary use slightly thicker nails.
Tool Racks - Storage Solutions
Tool racks, such as the one featured below, when suitably chosen and located in your shed, workshop or garage is a great space saving storage solution for your tools, giving you convenient and easy access to them when most needed.
7. If you are fixing the spanner rack to wood e.g. a wooden shed or a side of a cupboard then skip to the next step. If however you are fixing the spanner rack to a brick or stone wall then partially screw a screw into each pilot hole so that about an 1/8 inch is protruding on the other side or optionally (if they fit without force) push a nail through each pilot hole). Hold the wood against the wall with one hand, where you intend fixing it while at the same time placing a spirit level on the top edge of the wood to level it. Remove the spirit level and (without the wood moving) mark the wall along the top edge of the wood with a pencil. While still holding the wood in place tap the back of each of the two nails or screws quite hard (but not too hard) a few times so that they leave an indentation where you should drill.
This is one time while trying to hold the wood with one hand and leveling with the spirit level or holding the hammer with the other hand to mark the holes for later fixing that the wood is likely to slip and you wish you were an octopus to hold everything in place while you are leveling and marking things up. So take your time and be patient, and if needs be, re-level and have another go at marking the wall where you want to drill. A good tip is to use the eye once all leveled up and marked out e.g. eyeing it up from a distance by holding the wood at arms length against the wall (where it will be fixed in place) and looking to see if it looks straight; if by chance the wood has slipped and it has slipped noticeably since trying to level it off with the spirit level (and you hadn't noticed) then it should be obvious when you look at it at arms length.
After marking out where to drill for the two screws use a masonry drill on the hammer setting to drill the holes deep enough to take suitable wall plugs and screws. Push the wall plugs into the holes and if necessary drive them home (flush to the wall) with a few gentle but firm taps from the hammer.
8. Finally, screw the spanner rack into its final location on the wall, or the side of a wall cabinet or cupboard, and place your spanners on the spanner rack; ranking them in size order e.g. the smallest spanner on the right and the largest size spanner on the left, to make it easier and quicker to find the correct spanner when needed.
Choosing the Right Screw
The best size screw for the job
For fixing the rack to the wall or a side of a wall cupboard or cabinet the wood screws should be long enough to go through the thickness of the wood being fixed to the wall and if fixing to a masonry wall at least another 1 1/4 inches if not 1 1/2 inches in length. If fixing to a wooden shed or on the side of a wall cupboard or cabinet then the screw needs to be shorter so that it does not go through the shed wall or the side panel of the cabinet or cupboard.
Making or Buying a Tool Rack
And organising your tools
There are some good tool racks you can buy but sometimes it seems to me for a simple case of using a bit of scrap wood and a few nails you can simply and quickly make your own bespoke tool rack for nothing that does the job just as well as something you buy off the shelf.
Do you always buy the readymade tool racks for your tools or when you can do you sometimes make your own simple storage solutions for hanging your tools in your DIY workshop, shed or garage.
Readymade vs Bespoke
Do you prefer to buy readymade storage or make it yourself?
Other Tool Storage Solutions
Tool racks are not the only solution to storing and organising your DIY woodworking tools, other means for storing tools include tool boxes, shelves, cabinets, cupboards and drawers. Obviously how you store your tools and keep them safe partly depends on space restraints of your shed or garage and of course how you use them e.g. I keep a selection of electrical, plumbing and general purpose tools in separate tool boxes which are convenient to carry up to the house when I wish to do a few DIY jobs around the home.
How do you prefer to store and organise your tools, and do you have any handy tips, views or helpful comments; if so lets hear them in the comments at the bottom of the page.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Arthur Russ