Racking up Bench Appliances—How to store bulky appliances in a small space

It seems that wood appliances are to hand-tool users what jigs are to power-tool users. And they multiply like little bunny rabbits. I have three so far, two of which I use all the time.

My current shooting board (A1 above) gets a lot of use, squaring up stock and cutting pieces to exacting lengths. My dovetail (DT) chopping block (A2 above) gets less use, but when it does, it’s been an invaluable aid. I made it out of a retired shooting board. My bench hook (A3 above), gets the most use, holding smaller stock while I crosscut it with my trusty Noble No. 1 backsaw.

Storing these valuable aids has always been a pain. At first, I gave it the ole college try, tossing them under my workbench. But when I’d grab one, it always seemed to catch on other appliances, tools or whatever else was occupying the catchall at the time. So I came up with a crude storage block made out of a 4″ x 4″ with slots cut in it to kind of fit appliances on their sides.

This too was clumsy as the appliances would still catch on edges everywhere. Not to mention that the 4″ x 4″ slid around a lot, even after gluing sandpaper to the bottom.

So I decided to make a simple storage rack. But before I arrived at the design below I took a few measurements. I would be storing three appliances on their edges so I needed their slots to be wide enough to easily remove and dock them. To calculate the spacing between dividers, I tallied the thickness of the cleats + base layers + top backstops (+ laminated shooting layer on the shooting board). The DT chopping block was very wide and I had to make sure it would fit in my limited vertical space when placed on edge. It did.

As for the width, it turned out I only had space for three appliances. As I add more in the future, I’ll have to pick which ones to put in the purgatory space below my bench shelf.

Here’s the design I ended up with.

The Build
I started with a scrap particle board base about ¾” x 10 ¾” wide x 14″ deep. Ideally, I wanted dividers that were 11 3/8″ tall (3/8″ of which would fit into the groove) to ensure each appliance stayed in its own place. These run the length of the base at 14″ deep. I say ideally, because the ¼” plywood scraps I had lying around only allowed for two full-sized dividers, which I drafted for duty on each outside edge of the storage rack.

I cut the grooves the full length of the base using my router table fitted with a 3/16″ straight bit. The plywood was a bit less than ¼” thick but thicker than the 3/16″ groove my bit cut. So I had to sneak up on a snug fit by micro-adjusting the fence. After achieving the perfect friction fit, I glued the dividers in place.

To keep the rack from sliding around, I affixed spongy drawer-liner material to the bottom with “U” nails. A staple gun would have worked better but I didn’t have one at the time.

Then I put the rack in place…

…and tested each appliance for ease of access and replacement

And here’s the space after putting the rack into service.

Having used it for some time, I can say that it works perfectly. I remove and dock each appliance with ease, without them catching on anything. And by stacking them vertically, I optimize the use of my under-bench space.

About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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1 Response to Racking up Bench Appliances—How to store bulky appliances in a small space

  1. Jamie Bacon says:

    Nice solution. I have a similar issue with storing my bench hooks under my bench. I may try a system similar to yours. Thanks!

    Jamie Bacon

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