Please don’t let your children (or your fetal acetates) read this blog entry.
I’m finishing up the interior of a traveling tool chest this weekend and put in the tool rack that’s affixed to the back wall of this particular chest.
The rack is on the back wall because the front wall will be consumed by a large crab lock. But that’s not what this entry is about. It’s about the details of building the rack.
Normally, the tool racks I make are a single piece of 1” x 1” stock that I pierce with 1/2” holes on 1-1/8” centers. This sort of rack appeals to my desire to keep my tools all upright and evenly spaced – I have a lot of German blood don’t you know.
But this rack does limit the ability of the rack to hold a lot of tools.
Two years ago when Megan Fitzpatrick built her chest, she didn’t care much for my arrangement and so she decided to do something different. One night when I dropped off some manuscripts for editing she showed me her rack. I was impressed.
It might be the most thoughtful and capacious rack I’ve encountered.
Instead of plunging a 1/2” bit into a stick of wood, Megan took a “negative space” approach to her rack. There’s a single wooden bar that is offset from the wall of her chest with small bits of wood. And the whole thing is screwed to the wall.
I took some measurements, filed the information away and went home.
This morning I started playing with the variables to make a rack that would hold the maximum number of tools and place them at the right height so you could easily grab them, without stressing the parts of the rack and loosening the screws that hold it together.
So I gathered all the handled tools I could and started measuring them. I wanted the tools to wedge into the rack and keep their tops at a certain height so you could reach in there and finger them without too much fuss.
Here’s what I came up with: The wooden bar is 1/4” thick x 7/8” wide. The wooden bits that offset the bar are 9/16” thick x 7/8” wide. The 9/16” space between the wall and the bar was one magic dimension. The other important dimension was putting about 7” between the wooden bits. Any more than 7” and the wooden wall flexed in a way that made me uncomfortable and put a strain on my screws.
Then I positioned the rack so it was 5-1/2” from the top rim of the chest. I screwed it to the wall.
This setup accommodated every tool I could find. They dropped into the space without any trouble and the tops of the handles ended up in a grabbable place.
— Christopher Schwarz